Maria Magdalena Shares Her Woes

Rosa Martinez

Butcher at a Havana market. Photo: Caridad

HAVANA TIMES – Maria Magdalena is a woman over 60, and she lives in my neighborhood, a few blocks away from my house.

Our friendship began in a long line at the butcher’s, when she was heatedly arguing with the butcher about the weight of the piece of chicken she was buying…

While she defended her and everyone else’s right not to be ripped off (like so often happens here in Cuba), the rest of the customers present didn’t seem to be too bothered by her struggle, or they pretended to look the other way at least.

In the end, we all know that they steal from us, but are we going to come to blows every time we go to the ration’s store?” someone told her that time.

The others just watched on, in silence…

Then I stepped in, to prevent the argument from escalating more than anything else, and asked the sales assistant to please weigh the woman’s chicken properly, and that he not take it to heart, as it was her right to protest and demand good customer service, which especially includes properly weighing the product…

He gave me a stern look, but he had no choice but to make up what was missing; he probably stole some more from me, but it doesn’t matter, because the woman walked out of that horrible situation calmer.

Ever since then, Magdalena, who is Cuban through and through, became my “dear friend”, as she herself calls me, and every time I walk past her home, she forces me to have a cup of decent coffee (which I have no clue as to how she can afford it) and she stops me for a few minutes to listen to her talk about the national situation, Cubans’ everyday life, the latest joke in the neighborhood, in short, a little bit of everything.

But, we still hadn’t run into each other in 2019 yet, and I thought it was strange because she was always on her porch (like a guardian at their post) or surrounding areas, at least when I used to come home from work.

We finally saw each other yesterday. I soon learned the reason for her temporary disappearance.

“I spent a couple months in the US,” she said suddenly, as soon as she had greeted me affectionately.

Even though I was in a rush, like I always am, I knew that this conversation was going to be a while, so I had no other choice but to sit down for a few minutes, and prepare myself to listen to some of her stories as a tourist, which I will tell you, my dear readers, in another article…

Rosa Martínez

Rosa Martinez: I am another Havana Times contributing writer, university professor and mother of two beautiful and spoiled girls, who are my greatest joy. My favorite passions are reading and to write and thanks to HT I’ve been able to satisfy the second. I hope my posts contribute towards a more inclusive and more just Cuba. I hope that someday I can show my face along with each of my posts, without the fear that they will call me a traitor, because I’m not one.



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