HAVANA TIMES – Long lines or queues have become a part of Cubans’ everyday lives. Nearly no one sits still when the alarm bells go off for some product that is soon going to go into shortage.
A few days ago, long lines peaked at bodega ration stores and markets in my neighborhood. This is because products are being sold outside the ration booklet and in regular Cuban pesos. People are trying to satisfy a need that has yet to come.
I go to see what the line is for. Some people are buying boxes of soap, or half a box, while others are filling trolleys, bags, sacks and even their cars with the product.
“Ladies and gentlemen, they said on the midday news that starting tomorrow hygiene products, as well as chicken, hot dogs and eggs, will be sold in limited quantities,” a woman explains who doesn’t seem to have a single doubt about what she is saying.
In the face of this possible scenario, I also asked who was last in line so I could buy some of that soap because, while it’s true the economic crisis in the ‘90s didn’t severely affect me because I was working as a tourist entertainer for a Canadian audience and it allowed me to have a more privileged financial position), all of the stories that my family and friends told me about those years worried me.
In an attempt to buffer the imminent crisis that so many people have foretold, I bought a little more than I had originally set out to. It seems that they haven’t received the limited sale order here yet, which would mean we wouldn’t be able to buy more than a box of soap.
Cuba has been experiencing crises for many years now, but soap was never a reason for people to line up as it was always sold at CUC hard currency stores too, like many other products are. However, this time, it took priority in my neighborhood and many people lined up in order to at least “secure” their hygiene.