A Cuban Teacher, Love and Money

Jorge Milanes

Cuban teachers.

HAVANA TIMES – “I love them because I taught them the power of love and now, I can see the result,” Patricia says, an elderly neighbor who has been living alone for the past 15 years. She has two children: a girl and a boy who went to the US, but they have forgotten her.

Every morning, another neighbor in the neighborhood, a former student, goes with her to the “grandparents’ home”. 

Today, she is elegant and excited on her way to the home. After my greeting, she tells me other things, including the fact that thanks to her job as a teacher, she still has students today who love her, help her out and give her a reason to live.

“I was a literature teacher at high school, so I spent my life among teenagers, which is why I still have the energy to go to an event scheduled by the grandparents’ home.”

I praised the teacher for her painstaking elegance, and she explained that she had the clothes she was wearing, for many years now, but that she took good care of them.

“It seems to me that this elegance gets many people thinking,” she clarifies in a hushed tone, “if you go to my home, you can see that I also have presents made my students, which I still have as I’ve looked after them a great deal. Maybe, many people link my elegance comes with an alleged economic contribution that my children send, but that’s not the case. They call me once in a while just want to know if I’m still alive. I don’t count on any help from them. Even if other people think I have a lot of money.”

Patricia also tells me that a garlic seller tried to rip her off, a couple of days ago. The vendor was selling a string of garlic for 70 pesos and she paid it for it with a 5 CUC bill (120 pesos), and he apparently forgot to give her the change.

If you have family living abroad, people just assume you have money, including street sellers who are offering what they sell. On the other hand, Cuba’s aging population and the zero chance of having the financial resources needed, with the miniscule pensions, put social status into question.