My dream was finally realized. I now have a computer. Yet the funniest thing was how I went about getting it.
It turned out that a few days ago I was paid 150 CUCs (US $185) from a royalty for a job I’d collaborated on. I had already decided to sacrifice other needs and buy myself a computer, or at least a part of one, because 150 CUCs could only buy me about half of one.
I went to see Félix, who had helped me with my girlfriend’s computer when she lived at my house. He knows a lot of people who buy and sells components on the black market. Among the two of us, we decided that it would work out cheaper to buy used parts and then assemble the computer ourselves.
The first components that appeared were a keyboard, a mouse and a couple of speakers. The woman asked 20 CUCs, and I didn’t hesitate to buy them.
At work I found out that a young woman was selling a monitor and a chassis, everything for 80 CUCs. The only bad part was that she lived in the Centro neighborhood of Havana, about six miles from me. I would have to look for someone with a car who would do me the favor. Sure, I paid them for the gasoline, and in the end I would be cost me another 4 or 5 CUCs. I didn’t even consider a taxi; they’re too expensive.
I spent about four days trying to arrange a ride. I called to my uncle and we came up with a date, but he ended up not coming through. Then I tracked down my cousin, but he had a motorcycle accident; nothing serious, but what a coincidence. I then resorted to a neighbor who told me he would give me a lift, but when the moment came, he said his car was broken down. I called a friend but he told me he didn’t have time. By then I was on the verge of going crazy, I was so worked up.
My desperation reached the point that one night I went out in the rain to bring home the monitor and chassis however I could, even if I had to carry them. I no longer even cared about the police confiscating them for me not having the receipts or registration. Then I accidentally ran into a co-worker who calmly told me, “Don’t worry, tomorrow you’ll have those parts in your home.” And so I did.
Fatigue had already begun to possess me. Parallel to my difficulties with the chassis and the monitor I had been visiting a friend who had promised me a hard disk as a gift. I visited her seven times, with her counseling me not to worry on each visit, though in the end she told me she wasn’t able to get it. The worse thing was that I was running out of money.
Then a miracle happened.
I was leaving work and bumped into a former co-worker. By chance I mentioned to him that I lacked the kit (the motherboard with a microprocessor and RAM). He told me that he had one with a Pentium 4 and that he would sell it to me cheap, for only 40 CUCs. With another person, it could have cost me up to 90 CUCs.
I had already spent 140 and I still lacked the power source and the hard drive, not to mention the reader, which I still don’t have because I’ve been left without a dime.
My friend’s acquaintance sold me the power source for 20 CUC; ten cheaper than his price on the street. Finally, looking through the revolico.com website, there appeared a guy selling a 40 Gb hard drive for 25 CUC. When I called him, he told me that he lived in Lawton, about 12 miles from my house.
That day I had already walked almost three miles to see something on the Internet on a friend’s computer. I was dead tired but had to put everything else aside because my dream was now coming true. I had to go see another friend for him to lend me the 25 CUCs, because I was broke by this time. From there I went to Lawton.
The ride was about a half hour by bus. Once in Lawton I almost got lost. I had even gotten back on the bus though it turned out I was only three blocks from the seller’s house. Fortunately I asked the driver and got off in time. The sun was blazing and I could feel it in each step of those few blocks I had to walk.
I finally found the house and I bought the hard drive, but the seller didn’t try out the disk for me. In fact, I didn’t even see his face, because it was his wife who attended to me. I attributed that fact to that he was being careful, but when I got to Félix’s house and tested the disk, it was useless; it wasn’t good for anything.
My blood pressure shot up and my head began to ache. It was 6:00 in the afternoon. I was more than tired; I felt foolish and feared that I had lost 25 CUCs that I didn’t even have.
Fortunately, when I returned to the seller’s house and demanded my money, he apologized to me and exchanged the bad disk for one that turned out to be in 100% working condition – after testing it. I returned exhausted but pleased. That same day we installed Windows, and three days later my uncle (the same one who had left me waiting the first time) helped me by driving the computer from Félix’s house to mine.