Irina Echarry

My occupation? That’s a long story. Many of the people I know don’t exercise the career that they studied. I graduated as a Pharmacy Dispensary Technician, then I learned to carve wood, to knit, and I studied Theology. I have always liked to write. I still have diaries from when I was a child. In them I would try to explain to myself the things that I couldn’t understand. Now I’m a writer, or at least I try to be.

I have only published one book, but as we all know getting published isn’t easy anywhere, including Cuba. I don’t know how it works in other places, but here you have to win a literary contest or send your book to a publishing house and wait patiently until it’s your turn. It doesn’t matter – I have time, I’m willing to wait.

I’m also a photographer. A short time ago I had two jobs: I worked as a cultural promoter in a place in Old Havana and I was doing a photography internship for a newspaper. They approved me quickly for hire on the newspaper, and three months after beginning they asked me to define my situation and commit to one of the jobs.

The newspaper was a weekly that was to expand to four times a week in the coming months. That’s why they needed more people. I thought hard and then opted for the newspaper job even though the salary was lower.

But when I arrived at my new workplace, big news awaited me: an order had arrived not to take on any new workers. The explanation: they had suddenly decided that there wasn’t sufficient infrastructure for so many editions, and so they wouldn’t need anybody else. At least, that’s what they told me.

Since then, I’ve been unemployed. It’s okay, I’ll find a job soon. It’s not a pleasant situation though, especially now that Cuba is passing through such difficult times after the recent hurricanes.

I receive some help from my family and I also make cloth wallets which a friend sells, and later we divide the money. I’ll survive. At any rate there are those who never work and live off of their transactions in the black market. I don’t have that gift, but my hands are clever. Now I have time to write, think, read, watch the clouds and take whatever pictures I feel like taking.