A Hard to Come by Spoon

Jorge Milanes

The Habana Libre Hotel.

I have a friend who got sick during his last trip to Cuba, maybe because he didn’t adjust to the hot weather and the high humidity that persists on the island most of the year round.

Though accustomed to cold, dry climate of his country, he had come to Havana where he was happy to find its radiant sun.

He and his wife stayed at the Habana Libre Hotel, located at the centrally located intersection of 23rd and L streets in the Vedado district.

After several days enjoying the beach, countryside excursions and other activities, he was hit hard by the flu.

His wife blamed the air conditioning in the room, which could only be regulated by the hotel service personnel.  But by 3:00 in the morning the cold had dropped to a point that hardly anyone could take.

Soon my friend lost his voice. One could only hear him if he made the utmost effort to communicate over the painful hoarseness.

I brought him some honey, which is a good natural palliative for throat ailments as well as respiratory problems.  I also suggested that he get some treatment for his bronchial asthma.

Since there wasn’t a spoon in the room for the honey, his wife went down to the restaurant to get one – but the staff refused to give her one.  They told her that they have to make inventories of all the silverware and that none could be missing.

She gave them the number of the room where she was staying with her husband (my very sick friend) but they wouldn’t budge.  Someone finally gave her a straw and a sterilized bottle top with hot water.

My friend told me that by the time his wife returned to the room, he was stunned as she was, wondering who would want to steal a spoon? – something that seemed truly illogical and beyond all reasonable limits.

In an indignant tone — after a sip of the savory honey — he asked, “Could it be that Cuba’s becoming surreal?”