Jorge Milanes Despaigne
For a person who has never set foot outside of Cuba and for the first time they finally do, it’s very difficult to get over the psychological trauma caused by such a long time here with so many questions.
We’re accustomed to hearing ones like: “What are we going to eat today?” “Is it my turn to go to the store or not?” “Have the rice, beans or sugar been delivered there yet?” “Where’s the ration book?” In short, people here are possessed by concerns and worries about their food for the month.
My aunt Lazara was invited by her son Evaristo (who lives outside of Cuba) to spend some time with her and to learn what lies beyond her day-to-day routine. Since the time he has left the island, he’s gotten used to seeing and buying necessities for himself and his family, in addition to those things he likes that are outside the ordinary.
“As soon as I got there, my son took me shopping at a supermarket,” she told us – still in awe.
“We were passing by all these shelves full of food and sometimes I didn’t even understand what they had since it was all written in a different language. I was dazzled by so much stuff. I’m telling you, I was so confounded that instead of wanting everything, my subconscious led me to buy rice, beans and sugar.
“Your cousin was watching me, but he didn’t say anything; he wanted to remember his impression of what happened when he went shopping outside of Cuba for the first time. After nearly two hours in that market, we went by the meat department and I almost died. Just imagine, there were all kinds of meat,” she continued.
“I bought around $ 25.00 worth of beef; I didn’t know the exact number of pounds it was. The truth is that the butcher asked me if I was Cuban and if I had just gotten here, to which I replied yes.
Then—with a mischievous smile on his face—he said, ‘It really shows, ma’am.’”