Jorge Milanes Despaigne

Clothesline in Caibarien. Photo:cubadebate.cu

Many people know of the nutritional importance of fish, among whose properties are iron and omega-3 fatty acids. Iron is good for the human brain, at least that’s what my mother has always told me, which is why my uncle used to wonder: “If that’s so, then I don’t know why there are so many absent-minded folks here in Caibarien.”

I didn’t understand my uncle very well, not until my last vacation. That was when I had the opportunity to visit the town, full of a singular charm for the rectilinear layout of the streets, its colonial houses still standing, and its people – as kind as they are conversationalists.

Being in a village of fishermen, I was excited about being able to eat fish and all types of seafood, which is probably what I did to an excess; I spent a night in the hospital vomiting almost to the point of dehydration.

It must have been the fish salad from the restaurant where we ate, or perhaps the rice with shrimp and crabs… What’s sure is that I don’t know what it was that triggered that reaction.

As the saline solution dripped slowly into my vein, my aunt fell asleep in an armchair beside the bed where I was lying. Myself though, unable to fall asleep, I began thinking about the local bus terminal there, the beach, the “Cayo Conuco” restaurant, and “La Pista,” which is their little disco.

I realized that in almost all those places I had seen some nutcase or village idiot hanging around, which made me think back to my uncle’s words…

The next morning I woke up to pandemonium in my hospital room. The relatives of another man confined to the bed were demanding an explanation from his companion.

I figured the worst had happened, but my aunt whispered to me, “Don’t worry, the man’s still alive.”

The family had asked the person accompanying the patient if he had taken his medicine, to which his friend responded very seriously: “Ohhh, no; they didn’t give him the medicine. They gave it to me, and without giving it any thought, I took it.”


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