By Fabiana del Valle
HAVANA TIMES – Trying to get anything sorted in Cuba right now is torture. I’d been waiting months to try and see a dentist, but there are never any resources, the few available go to children, pregnant women and young people serving their Military Service.
Not falling under any of these categories, I had to keep on waiting for a miracle. Time passed by, I continued to ask friends if they knew anything until I managed to find a person willing to solve the problem, and for my partner too, as he was suffering the same as me.
To do this, we needed to travel approximately 60 km to the polyclinic in Consolacion del Sur. It might seem crazy to travel so many kilometers when we have “free medical care” just a few feet away. It’s best not to go into that, we’re used to living with these kinds of incongruencies.
We left the house at 5 AM to catch a passenger truck that leaves for Pinar del Rio, every day. It was full at that time. But we sat down, motivated and hopeful, and a couple of people trodding on our feet wasn’t going to take away from that morning enthusiasm.
We reached Consolacion bridge and got off the truck. We needed to wait for a horse-drawn cart to get to the town center, and that meant waiting in a long line. Faced with the possibility of losing time, we decided to walk.
It was Dariel’s first time in Consolacion, and as we walked along, he was surprised to see how clean the streets were and he compared it to his hometown. We were laughing, it was a good day. What could possibly go wrong?
At the dentist’s office, we went to the reception desk. They wrote our names down and we began to wait for our turn.
We waited over an hour, the chairs were uncomfortable, the heat unbearable, and patients were getting restless. I couldn’t help but overhear snippets of other people’s conversations, especially about the current situation.
“Girl, it isn’t easy! My son had to buy a liter of cooking oil for me for 1000 pesos. We spent a whole week eating plain rice.”
“Things aren’t easy, these blackouts are driving me crazy.”
“Look at the time and they still haven’t called me in. I don’t even know how I’m getting home. It was terrible just to get here, transport is a mess.”
“Did you hear? That guy also left and got there perfectly fine. About time, it was really hard for the poor man.”
“Oh God, the air compressor has just broken,” a woman said!”
All of our hopes were lost with this piece of news. Time and money spent for nothing, there was zero chance of being seen. Disheartened, we started making our way back.
At the junction on the highway, there were lots of people waiting. Their tired faces told us they’d been waiting there for a while. An hour and nothing.
We decided to leave the group and see if we had better luck. The sun was still scorching even under the umbrella, but that morning enthusiasm had vanished.
My mother was waiting in the doorway when we finally made it home.
“Did you manage to get it sorted?”
“Nooo,” Daniel told her, “it seems we got out on wrong side of the bed today.”