Jorge Milanes Despaigne
She had come here on vacation. The place where she works closed down for the month of August and she thought that she would enjoy the sun, sand and surf in Cuba, along with the island’s beautiful people.
She packed her suitcases the same afternoon in her office closed, and then went to the travel agency where she purchased her round trip ticket. “I was lucky,” she told me. “Right now it’s not easy to get tickets since it’s the high season.”
I accompanied her through the streets of Havana, showing her historic sites and monuments of the city, as well as familiarizing her with Cuban customs, which are as affable as those of any people of the Caribbean.
The first morning, almost as soon as we greeted, she admitted that due to the haste in which she had organized her trip, she’d forgotten to bring a toothbrush. We were near the Fountain of India, which was so dry that it looked tarnished in front of the newly built Saratoga Hotel, the place where my friend was staying.
Behind us we left the Capitol Building, now undergoing a wholesale renovation, and we went in the store beside the Payret Cinema.
Being such a central location, where people from all parts of the world converge, surely we’d be able to find a brush here. But we had no such luck.
We stopped in Central Park, where I told her about the time when a bunch of drunken US Marines desecrated the statue of Jose Marti located there by climbing up on it and then urinating on the statue. She was familiar with our national hero from a novel she had read in her adolescence and that still remembered…
“On past here there’s a complex of stores!” she exclaimed, putting her hope in the old Manzana de Gomez center. Nonetheless the attempt failed. But since it was steamy hot, we decided to have a Daiquiris in the Floridita Bar, and later we wandered down Old Havana’s Obispo Street.
We roamed around several places that possess the charm of a bygone epoch, and others that express the stupor of the present. We walked until we got to a little neighborhood bodega store that sells goods some items in regular Cuban pesos. Here, where it proudly showed off its half-empty shelves, paradoxically we found a white tooth brush with green bristles.