By Pedro Pablo Morejon
HAVANA TIMES – Rocco and Frida met each other over two years ago. They clicked so well that they knew from that moment onwards, nothing would ever separate them.
Rocco isn’t a family man, the product of experience or the way he was raised. He has too much of an irreverent view of relationships. The exact opposite of Frida who comes from a stable home where family, commitment and marriage are the pillars you build a life upon.
“I have always grown up with the fairytale of a happy home,” she told him one day, and Rocco, pragmatic as always, with his rebellious rationale, ignored the phrase, although he’s loved her from the moment he first set eyes on her.
Frida has reluctantly loved him for who he is, like a wild horse that gallops with no limits, who refuses to be kept in check, although he’s become tamer over the months out of his love for her.
Her parents are traditional, as you’d expect, and even though they weren’t very happy with the relationship, they tolerated Rocco for a while. Although this initial period came with a subtle hostility on their part in the form of gestures and hidden reproaches.
Rocco, with his dark side, who doesn’t like to be questioned, became fed up with the living situation and one morning left Frida with a broken heart. He also went searching for a freedom that would allow him to explore new bodies, different sensations.
That’s when a woman appeared, some fun without any great importance. Frida’s family found out because gossip is just as popular as candy around here. They told their daughter, who felt like she’d died and couldn’t breathe again until Rocco decided to call the adventure off.
This all happened in the space of a month, it took Rocco 31 days to understand that freedom meant nothing without Frida, and he came back, and was forgiven.
But they didn’t have their own place to live in and Frida’s parents objected to their daughter being hurt again by somebody who was nothing but a vulgar Casanova in their eyes, who Frida would never have a future with, without understanding that they were now the ones hurting her.
She finds herself in a landmine, in the middle of a war between two parties she can’t give up. She doesn’t want to get on the wrong side of her kind parents who have given her everything. Nor does she want to lose this man who has pushed her to grow, and who she feels safe and fulfilled with.
Neither Rocco nor Frida have their own home. They are now looking for somewhere to live. Rent costs thousands of pesos per month in a country where everything has always been expensive for Cubans, but now after the reforms process, prices have gone up ten times their original price, thereby driving up living costs.
Plus, you can’t dream of building a house in the short or mid-term. One life wouldn’t be enough for Cubans who don’t have a relative living abroad to buy building materials which are as hard to find as water is on Mars and for prices out of this world.
To give you an example, a bag of cement costs over 1000 pesos, which is more or less the equivalent of a third or more of an average wage in Cuba.
Despite the State promising the production of materials and its legal regulations published in the Cuban Republic’s Official Gazette to fix prices, it hasn’t been able to guarantee anything.
Building materials can’t be found at the so-called rastros, places where people would go to buy them, when they came in and for exorbitant prices. All of this because state-led companies are less than incompetent and most of these resources are destined for building and renovating tourist facilities for foreigners to enjoy.
Some stores with US dollar prices sell a bag of cement for the equivalent of 10 USD, which equals 800 Cuban pesos according to current exchange rates on the street. The same steep prices can be said of rebar, stone, bricks, cables, wood…
The future of Cuba’s housing situation looks very bleak. All Rocco and Frida can do for now is wait for a miracle.