Close to Vedado (II)

This Vedado Park has a permanent sculpture exhibition. photo: Caridad
This Vedado Park has a permanent sculpture exhibition. photo: Caridad

My friend Ana Maria and I have worked together for years doing exercises for our University career in audio visual communications. During that time we were living in the dorm, and we decided that when we graduated and each had our respective jobs we would try to live together in a small apartment. We set the maximum we could pay at 50 CUC (25 each or US $30) and drew up our strategy for coexistence.

In terms of getting permission to stay in Havana, we’re OK for now, in that we’re currently working legally in our respective jobs here. Afterwards -once we’ve finished our studies- that remains something we’ll have to take care of.

For Ana Maria, this is something simple, because her home is in Havana Province, which gives her the ability to work in the capital. However, my residence is in Santiago de Cuba. So if I want to work here I’ll have to change my address, which is not something simple.

Then there’s the matter of social service, the repayment that the government requires for our years of free university study. This is supposed to be performed in one’s city of origin. It’s therefore necessary that some company or institution request my services to allow for me to work here in Havana while repaying the State.

Both procedures are very complicated -thanks to the diabolical labyrinths of the Cuban legal bureaucracy- and I have still not completed them, which sometimes makes me a bit anxious about my dream.

In any case, for the time being we’re living in an apartment close to Vedado, in fact it’s an apartment that’s as big as a house, which we are sharing among four. It’s not what we had planned, but its fine for starters.

If you analyze it carefully, it’s really like moving from one dorm to another. Of course this is only in terms of living together, because nothing compares to eating freshly cooked food. And even if these meals don’t include all God’s ingredients, at least you know that there’s dedication and love in meals made by friends -the family- and by yourself.

Likewise, even though the bathroom is also shared, we don’t have a host of other people around taking baths and splashing water on us, and we can finally sit down on a toilet with complete confidence.

Living together in itself is not so bad. The rooms have all the privacy of the world, and we have a solid friendship with the others sharing the apartment. There’s nothing like being surrounded with friends when you’re far from home and family.

Likewise, the neighborhood tranquility and the isolation experienced in the house when all the doors and windows are closed create a great atmosphere for concentrating on our studies, especially for Ana María and me, given the work that we have to do to complete our theses.

So, for the time being, and for at least one month -the time for which we’ve paid the rent- we will be able to enjoy the rewards of living close to Vedado, and without worrying about having enough food in the refrigerator.

Francisco Castro

Francisco Castro:Everything becomes simpler when one crosses the line of thirty. That does not make it easier, but rather the opposite. There I am on the other side of the line, trying to figure out, what little I know about art, politics, economy ... life, how to move without breaking oaths that seemed essential, how not to give up, how to make the years spent into a beacon to the future.



One thought on “Close to Vedado (II)

  • The wholly unnecessary bureaucratic red-tape you describe above simply cannot be afforded in a poor socialist country. As you reasonably point out — your service to your society can as easily be accomplished wherever you happen to want to live now. And if resources were properly allocated across the country — as any properly-run socialist government would have it — then people wouldn’t be leaving the provinces in droves and all crowding into the over-loaded capital city, would they now?

    So it’s not inherently a problem of socialism — except that it’s made a problem, because of undemocratic unaccountability coming from the past. (And sorry too — but I feel that I have to keep hammering this point home on this website. I hope I am forgiven this quirk of mine. 😉

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