A Microwave Oven and Macro-Stressed Woman in Cuba

Janis Hernandez

microwaveHAVANA TIMES — Microwave ovens can be of great help in the kitchen and have become nearly indispensable household appliances. They allow us to properly cook foods in a relatively short period of time and retain the nutritional properties of these foods. They also require a smaller number of containers and utensils.

In view of all these advantages, buying a microwave oven is a good investment.

First, I considered getting someone to buy it abroad, where the highest price isn’t above 50 dollars or euros (depending on where you purchase the product and the oven’s characteristics). Customs fees here and there, however, raise the price far too much.

In Cuba, the price of these ovens is far too high for the population’s average income. That said, it is worth the effort, so I saved up, peso after peso, until I’d put away the hundred and plus Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUC) I needed and set out to buy the blessed oven.

I bought the smallest model at 117.95 CUC (as I couldn’t afford a bigger one). It is a Daytron-brand, 700-watt, 2450 MHz oven.

Overjoyed, I started heating up, defrosting and cooking meals, feeling that the house chores had become easier. But it was too good to be true. One fine day, the oven stopped heating up the food. Luckily, the 6-month warranty hadn’t expired and I immediately took the oven to the repair workshop assigned to this type of equipment. Since it is quite far from my house, I started spending quite a bit on transportation, and my dear microwave oven began to go up in price.

There, I was asked to fill out an extremely long form and told to pick up the oven the following week. I did just that.

With the oven back home, I was happy once again…until it stopped working three days later.

When I phoned the repair shop, I was told I had to take the oven back, that they couldn’t give me a voucher so that the store where I bought the unit could replace it (if they had the same unit in stock) or give me back my money, not until three attempts at repairing it had been made.

So, the oven went back into the box and to the shop. The following week, I went to pick it up and demanded that they test it front of me…and guess what? It wasn’t working. I left it for another week.

Yesterday, I went to pick up my oven again and, when I tested it, I realized it had a big dent on one side. When I demanded an explanation for the damage, the technician, bold as brass, said they had accidentally dented it while trying to remove the chassis. When I demanded compensation, they told me it wasn’t possible, that it was a kind of collateral damage. I had to take the damaged oven back home.

To my surprise, the oven isn’t working again. Tomorrow, I’ll take it to the shop one last time (as is established). I will have to head back to the store with a load of signed and stamped papers. We’ll see what the manager says, whether they replace the oven or reimburse me.

For the time being, I’ve returned to the hectic pace of the kitchen, where the spot for the microwave is empty, and I begin to experience a kind of macro-stress.

To be continued…


Janis Hernández

Janis Hernandez: I don’t seek to change the world, much less give recipes on how it should or shouldn’t be. I don’t have the gift of oratory or that of the letters. I’m not an analyst or a philosopher. I am just an observer of the things that happen around me and I feel obligated to speak about my country without a muzzle, just write and that’s what I do in my diary.

4 thoughts on “A Microwave Oven and Macro-Stressed Woman in Cuba

  • Tokmadjian the Canadian business man invested and got 14 years in jail as thanks!

  • So far, there has been the characteristic bluster from the Castro propaganda machine regarding burgeoning interest in foreign investment. On the ground, the Mariel Port Enterprise Zone remains a ghost town. Lots of trade missions to Cuba will come and go and give glowing speeches about investing in Cuba some day. But the head count of who is actually setting up shop is still very low. You are obviously not the only person who gets the joke about doing business in Cuba.

  • You do realize that these items ( microwave ovens particularly ), like the plasma or LCD, are not really items you fix, indeed are not meant to be fixed. They work for like, 10 years straight and when they fail, you throw them away ( by then new technology has made them obsolete anyways ) When microwave ovens break you buy a new one. The one mentioned in this story was broken right out of the box? It’ll never be fixed. Welcome to the wonderful Orwellian world of Cuba

  • As I read this article, I shuttered and wondered why the rest of the world – or at least part of it – wants to do business with Cuba. Having spent the last 15 winters in Cuba, I have learned the language and I have learned a great deal about Cuban bureaucracy. How can Cuba hope to attract business partners, when even a microwave oven cannot be repaired properly? It is,indeed, laughable. How can Cuba hope to compete with the rest of the world when its communication system lacks, well . . . the ability to properly communicate? I am helping a Cuban friend to open a cafeteria in Holguin. After many weeks of waiting, a health inspector came to his establishment, inspected the premises and informed him that everything was “good to go.” The following week, my friend went to pick up his license (patente) for this cafeteria. To his dismay, his address was copied down incorrectly. The result? He will have to return the following week to pick up his license. Why another first world country would want to deal with a third world, third rate country like bankrupt Cuba is beyond me.

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