HAVANA TIMES — It’s clear not all Cubans have the same economic situation, but what’s certain is that the vast majority have salaries that last them a mere 8 to 10 days (counting basic food products), and that, the remaining 20 days of the month, they have to what I do: work miracles to acquire essential products.
Though no one in Cuba is starving, providing a family with the three fundamental meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) is a real headache, particularly for those of us who work in the State sector and have no access to Cuban or other hard currencies.
Yesterday was one of those days in which I awoke to find we didn’t even have enough grains to throw together some rice and beans, one of Cuba’s most common meals – not only because it is easy to make, but because it is the cheapest (or used to be).
The situation was serious, but not too serious, because I had 50 pesos at hand – 50 regular pesos, don’t think for a moment they were CUCs.
Fifty Cuban pesos (around two US dollars) isn’t much, not even in Cuba, my readers will likely say, and they will be right – but it’s better than nothing, right? It would be worse to have no food and absolutely no money.
I went out to get some food with this small fortune in hand. My older daughter was coming home early from school and I had to have lunch ready.
I did the math to see what the most economic and productive option was. After adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing a few times, I gave up. The money was just enough to buy two pounds of rice (10 pesos), two pounds of beans (30 pesos), two and a half pounds of cassava (5 pesos) and two avocados (5 pesos).
So many calculations gave me a splitting headache. I felt the world spinning around me, like after one comes down from a ride at an amusement park.
I had solved the big problem, and my head understood this well, but, since it’s smarter than I am, it still ached, because it knew that I would be facing the same problem in two days’ time.