I remember when I was about six I used to get all excited when my parents would take me roller skating on the weekend.
We’d go to a rink a few blocks from our house where it cost only a peso to rent a pair of skates. They were metal but had four pretty yellow or orange wheels.
I don’t remember how many times we went, but I do recall that I enjoyed trying to skate and that my parents would skate alongside me because I was always afraid of doing it on my own.
But time passed, the skates started to fall apart and were never replaced. For a long time nobody went there and then the rink was converted into something else and I grew up.
In fact, I was 12 when I saw some skates again. But these new ones were different; the wheels were aligned and I couldn’t stand up straight on them for more than a second.
Despite not knowing how to skate well, I love watching others who do. That was what stirred me a few days ago to stop and watch some boys who were fooling around with skates and skateboards.
They were at a place here in Havana where INDER (the National Institute of Sports and Recreation) has set up different sized ramps. I stayed there a long time watching how the dozen or so teens made what seemed like thousands of complicated moves between one ramp and another.
However, the time I was there allowed me to see a few other things. The kids there wore really good quality clothes, yet they didn’t seem to worry about falling on the ground and ripping them.
A question also came to mind. Where did they get those skates and skateboards? These rarely turn up in Cuban stores, and when they do they go for prices well over $30 CUC – an amount very few here can afford.
After standing there for around two hours watching as the kids laughed and enjoyed the sport, their parents began showing up – many in cars (another privilege not many here enjoy).
My conclusion: Skating today is not an activity that just any child or teen can take part in; you need a lot more resources than the majority of people here possess.
In recalling my childhood I wonder how it’s possible that such a simple act as renting skates to anyone isn’t something that we can’t resuscitate today. Something to keep in mind in this society, which should have the obligation of affording the same rights and opportunities to all.