Living to a Hundred in Cuba

Main Street in the city of Pinar del Rio

By Pedro Pablo Morejon

HAVANA TIMES – I left to go see my daughter on Saturday morning. I got to the highway and found a dozen people waiting, some since dawn. Everyone helpless, looking out at the empty highway because barely any vehicles were passing by.

Conversation was the normal. There isn’t any fuel. We’ve all seen photos recently of huge lines to buy gasoline.

9 AM went, 10 AM, 11, 12 PM and there was absolutely nothing. Not even a private truck. Hours passed by and the number of people grew like inflation, there were already 50 of us. My daughter’s phone calls to know when I was getting there then only made me more desperate. The few cars here and there didn’t want to stop. Five minutes later, a bus on its way to Havana stopped, the bus driver was in a bad mood.

It was so full that very few people managed to get on. I didn’t want to stick myself in the middle of that dog pound of pushing and shoving because I still have a little bit of dignity, although I know there hasn’t been room for decent people here in this shithole of a country for a while now.

Well, anyway, I turned back around at 2 PM, exhausted, annoyed, and hungry. The electricity had been switched off since 2 PM and it was only coming back at 8 PM supposedly.

The neighbor told me that sausage had come in at the ration store and she gave me a packet that I’m allocated through the rations booklet. None of the groceries had come in, only sugar and rice.

There’s a close relationship between cold cuts and cancer. I avoid sausages, ham and any other mega-processed food, but I’m not an extremist because I live in Cuba and you eat whatever you can find, not what you want to eat.

Plus, when the electricity comes back at 8 PM, I won’t have the energy to cook the two chicken legs I still have left.

There wasn’t any bread at the bodega store because “there isn’t any flour,” we were told. I ate two sausages with a bit of powdered milk that I still have left thank God, and I went to train with weights at my friends’ rustic gym.

I finished just as the electricity came back on. I made dinner and had a shower. It was almost 9:30 already. I made a plate and switched on the TV to entertain myself a little with the Saturday movies as I normally do, but nope, they’d put on a crappy program from the steps of Havana University, performances, music, political propaganda… I went to bed.

I turned 100 years old about a month ago, it’s December 2074 and I’m going to die. It’s a natural and peaceful death, surrounded by my daughter, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren who love me.

I wake up in that moment, look at the cellphone and it’s 4-something AM on Sunday. They cut the electricity. Another blackout.

I know I won’t be able to fall asleep again, so I get up and start the day a little earlier than usual.

I’ve been having this constant feeling that I’m going to die just after turning 100 years old for a while now, and that unlike what I used to think about old age, mine will be happy and calm, the best part of my life. It seems silly but that’s how I’ve been feeling, and I’ve come to believe it.

An old man passes by selling garlic, I buy a string of them for 200 pesos. I’m going to put the beans and two chicken legs on to cook before they turn off the electricity again. Nobody can live to 100 here like this.

Read more from the diary of Pedro Pablo Morejon here.

Pedro Morejón

I am a man who fights for his goals, who assumes the consequences of his actions, who does not stop at obstacles. I could say that adversity has always been an inseparable companion, I have never had anything easy, but in some sense, it has benefited my character. I value what is in disuse, such as honesty, justice, honor. For a long time, I was tied to ideas and false paradigms that suffocated me, but little by little I managed to free myself and grow by myself. Today I am the one who dictates my morale, and I defend my freedom against wind and tide. I also build that freedom by writing, because being a writer defines me.

One thought on “Living to a Hundred in Cuba

  • May 1, 2023 at 8:07 pm

    Señor Morejon. Usted es tremendo hombre. Gracias por sus escritos que reflejan la verdad de el infierno de el comunismo. Siga viviendo i escribiendo que nos ayuda a todos. Déjeme mandarle una ayuda.

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