Another Minefield in Cuba: The Kitchen

The crowd hoping to get a ticket to be able to buy cooking gas when it arrives.

HAVANA TIMES – The multitude I encountered on Rastro Street between Victoria and Mendieta here in Holguin caught my attention. The crowd was so immense that it literally turned the corner by Mendieta. Other people who appeared to be dispersed there, simply sitting in doorways or standing on the nearby corners with no connection to the issue, also turned out to be in that line.

I had to ask: “Sir, what is this line for? “To sign up for the gas canisters” an older man answered. “We’ll see if God will help us,” he added. “Of course he will,” I said. I never give any other response in these cases.

I continued on my way, thinking about that whole mass of men and women I left behind. I knew that not all of them would get the tickets they were lined up for. The term refers to a list of names that are noted in a ledger, after which they give you a slip of paper with a number on it. Finally, they tell you when it will be your turn to buy what you want, or what you need.

Given the current complexity and near-total scarcity we’re suffering in the country, with the inevitable chaos that situation has triggered, this is the alternative they’ve found to put some order into the sales of products.

In Cuba, because of the difficulties obtaining gas for cooking, there are other burners like electric ones, oil stoves, or finally a kind we used a lot during the so-called “special period” crisis of the 1990’s – wood fires. However, due to the blackouts, the hot plates are useless, and food preparation in general has become a tragedy. Not to mention that the expression, “I’m going to cook” has become, “I’m going to invent something,” because that simple daily activity has become totally tragic.

Not even being prepared works. It’s never enough. None of the people who were part of that bulky human mass in line really wanted to be there. Enduring sun, heat, anxiety, and who knows what other feelings, like impotence at being able to get a cylinder of gas so they could cook at home.

Further, we can’t discount the possibility that, as things go right now, you can perfectly well not have anything to cook with. So in these cases – what can you invent? A sweet drink and bread with anything is food. But only for one or two days – more days ingesting only these is very bad news.

This is a permanent worry for the mothers and fathers of little children who go to school. More so, since right now in the childcare centers, the parents of the kids who are there all day, or different types of schools, are asked to please send food with their children, because the schools can’t give them adequate meals. I’m talking about the fact that the food they have in these centers is scarce and of poor quality.

No, our children won’t be the strongest people in the world. Like the generations born in the nineties, who suffered for the same reasons. Poor nutrition and a terrible quality of life has marked us, right up until today. However, despite that, and against all logic, we continue working, studying, living, believing that one day we’ll overcome what we’re now suffering, and trusting that it won’t be a long time to wait.      

Read more from the diary of Lien Estrada here on Havana Times.

Lien Estrada

I am a lover of animals. I am passionate about a good book, a good movie, or a good conversation. I can't help but regret that I don't enjoy studying exact sciences. I am glad to have read Krishnamurti from a very young age. My upbringing is Christian, but I am fascinated by all religions, especially those of the East. The sea is another world that I find captivating.

3 thoughts on “Another Minefield in Cuba: The Kitchen

  • All religions have similarities. They are based upon belief not proven fact. Without them, there would be less strife in the world.

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