By Fabiana del Valle
HAVANA TIMES – Preparations began the night before. We needed bottles to take water, a snack if we had to wait too long and an alcohol spray to disinfect our hands or any surface we might touch.
When the time came for my daughter to try on what she was going to wear the next day, the debacle began. Nothing fit her! The little girl had grown in front of my eyes and was now a little woman.
It was lucky that I had an almost new pair of pants from when I was thin and I’d kept them for when I’d lose a few poundss. I don’t think I’ll be able to fit in them again, but they fit her perfectly. We fixed the shoe problem by taking out the sole on the inside that is normally padded. That’s how we added another half a size to the shoes, and she could get her feet in.
My girl was ecstatic, as if we had fixed everything up for her to go to a party and not for her first dose of Soberana against COVID-19. After so many months of lockdown, her fear of needles was a lot less than her eagerness to see her friends from school or breathe fresh air.
We live in a rural area, so we had to travel to San Diego de los Baños, which is 8 kms away. The Ministry of Education in the municipality had organized for a bus to take the children and parents in this recreation place. which had been set up for children to be vaccinated.
I was terrified of the idea of the bus full of so many people altogether. However, I don’t have the money I need to hire a car that could take us there. My father’s motorbike, which has solved many a problem, hasn’t had tires for months and there isn’t a lot of hope that it’ll be on the road again.
We had to leave early; the bus was set to come at 7 a.m. Then my cousin’s husband who drives a state-owned truck called me to tell me we could go with him. We would save ourselves the bus trip that way and we’d get to San Diego.
Half an hour later, children began to appear with their parents, uncles and aunts, even grandmothers it seemed from the sheer number of people who gathered together. The bus finally came, and just like I had feared, it was full of people of all ages.
Given the number of positive COVID-19 cases being reported in the municipality I live in, every day, being crowded into such a small space is dangerous. That’s why I was only thinking about getting home, about the precautions I’d have to take to prevent catching COVID-19.
The characteristic smell of mineral/medicinal waters in San Diego’s spa made it hard for us to breathe with our masks on. The heat and hours passed by without any kind of organization. It’s true that people in charge went to great lengths to try a create a bit of order among that chaos.
Finally, it was time. We had to first go to a table where they wrote down my daughter’s name and surnames, then we went to another table where they took her temperature. That’s when I was given a small piece of paper with her information. We then went to a see a doctor where she examined my daughter, wrote her assessment on the back of the piece of paper, signed and stamped it.
After my daughter was vaccinated, she had to wait half an hour in a small room where we parents weren’t allowed to accompany them. The first thing she told me when she came out was that she was hungry. Right now, there are very few things you can find to eat on the street. Add to that the risk of infection and exorbitant prices. Therefore, the bread and mango juice we brought was a delicious feast.
We sat in the park, far from the crowd. I was calmer with this first phase of this trip over, although I still didn’t know what time we were heading back.
We heard somebody say that the vaccines had run out, that they were going to bring the ones they needed still from the polyclinic. That’s why we were forced to wait a few more hours. The bus wasn’t allowed to leave until the last child had been vaccinated.
We got back home at 3 PM, exhausted, wanting a shower and take a nap more than anything else. After this experience, she no longer wants to go back to San Diego, see her school friends or breathe in fresh air.
I learned my lesson, I’ll save some money and when it’s time for her second dose, I’ll pay for a taxi.
Read more from Fabiana here on Havana Times.