Daisy Valera 

In the comments responding to one of my posts, “When Your Wages Can’t Stretch,” someone asked me the question of how I survived when my pay ran out.

I thank them for the tact they showed in using the word “survive.”  The verb “live” would have sounded out of place – even cynical.

Well, a few years ago a friend of mine was kind enough to share his knowledge of craft making with me – and not only his knowledge, he made all his materials available to me.

The learning process was slow.  The time I needed to devote to my university studies prevented my experiments with metal and stone from coming to fruition.

For months, many of the earrings I was able to make had to be thrown out because they had one or another defect.

Quantities of German nickel (the type of metal I used, which has to be imported since it isn’t found in Cuba) had to be thrown out due to my inexperience, almost leading me give up on the venture.

If it hadn’t been for my friend — who’s the kind of person that enjoys teaching what they know, no matter what the cost — I’m sure I would have tossed my artisan aspirations into the trash.

Perhaps the hardest part of learning was to realize that I am a person who hated it when things didn’t turn out quickly and correctly.

With all this — overcoming my easy-way-out mindset and accumulating a few B’s in my university courses — things began turning out OK.

The earrings I made were no longer bent, and it didn’t take me three hours to complete a single pair.

But to be an artisan, in my opinion, it’s not the quality achieved while making lots of products; the difficult part is when you have to sell those products.

You have to learn how to convince with words, not with luck.

I’ve had to knock on dormitory doors hawking earrings to my classmates and later to my co-workers.  I’ve even buttonholed people in the street.

Lately I’ve been making jewelry to order, plus I’ve been arranging my earrings on a cloth for when someone wants to see them.

Since I’m completing my post-university social service work commitment, I don’t have enough time to make many earrings, plus my hand begin to hurt when I even think about touching a pair of pliers.

It seems that because of the constant effort, I’ve ended up with tendinitis, leaving a part of my hand constantly inflamed.

So, to answer the question, making earrings is how I make it to the end of the month, devoting hours in that pursuit, despite the fact that this time should go to relaxing after having worked all day.

It’s a way to satisfy my basic needs, though it also helps me deal with stress, fatigue and frustration.


Daisy Valera

Daisy Valera:Soil scientist and blogger. I write from Mexico City, where Havana sometimes becomes so small that it disappears. However in others, the Cuban capital is a city so past and present that it steals your breath.

4 thoughts on “How I Survive

  • Bill, this a Cuba Travel Section question and we will see if we can get you a contact in Nueva Gerona to communicate with. Best regards, Circles Robinson, editor, HT

  • I don’t know if you can help me. I am from Pittsburgh Pennsylvania USA. My great grandfather is buried on the Isle of Youth. In the early part of the 20th century he went there and bought a pineapple farm. He worked his farm for several years before his death. Anyway, I am looking for a picture of his headstone. My father told me that he once saw a picture of it but there is no copy still available. I am thinking he might be buried in the american cemetery in Nueva Gerona. Can you put me in touch with someone on the isle who might be willing to research this for me? Thanks so much for your consideration.

    Bill Little

    Mt Vernon Community Church
    2200 Buena Vista Rd
    McKeesport PA 15135
    (church) 412-751-8479
    (cell) 412-551-8048

  • Sidnei, It seems totally crazy that with the current development of technology and efficiency levels achieved in the industry of capitalist countries, people continue to have more than 1 job, or work several hours until they are 60 or 70 years. Above all if you live in a socialist country as Cuba is by principle.
    The world has to change, because people are not fucking slaves, moreover anyone who defends this is because is not harmed by it, wich you seems to be, think about that Sidnei.

  • So u think that around the world nobody has 2, 3 or even 4 different jobs??
    Ok, then!!
    Nice fantasy you have about the world outside Cuba!

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