Summer Holidays and Longing for Water

Rosa Martinez

Cooling off in the Bayamo River.  File photo: Ihosvanny

HAVANA TIMES – The first Sunday of the summer rolled around in Cuban households last weekend. Nearly every student in the country is already on their school holidays, and nearly half of public sector employees too, the other half will have their break in August.

Every family begins to plan activities to try and make the holidays fun, for the younger ones especially. Most families need to make huge sacrifices in order to give their children the best the summer has to offer. Many can only afford to buy shoes and other essentials for the upcoming academic year with the money they’ve put aside, and if there are two school-aged children in the family then the headache is twice as bad.

It’s an ordinary Sunday in my house. As both my daughters have finished their exams and got decent grades, they make the most of being able to sleep in a couple of hours extra; until past 11 AM to tell you the truth.

I ask myself how they are able to stay in bed so long, but I know it’ll only be like this the first couple of days, as they are tired from an extremely long school year, and they won’t want to rest as much once they regain their strength…

I get up early, like I always do. Staying in bed past 6 AM is sacrilege to me. I start going about my daily activities around the house, although not in so much of a rush. I know that lunch will probably be ready by the time the girls wake up.

The afternoon is unbearably hot. Everyone wishes to be on a beach after lunch, or better yet, a river, as the water in any of our province’s many rivers and streams is a lot cooler. However, it’s just the first Sunday of the summer holidays, we’ll have time to prepare an excursion or two, I think…

The girls decide to play together, but the heat suffocates them, and they have no other choice but to improvise a pond in what was an old pig pen, and they spend nearly two hours throwing water at each other. They end up getting into an argument over something silly, but not before they enjoy having a good time.

Their father and I try and bear the high temperatures as best we can, spending a while in the backyard where there is a pleasant breeze or lying on the kitchen floor. We make some cold lemonade to quench our thirst and wait for the afternoon to calmly pass, hoping that the night cools things down.

But, nothing changes. Two friends come to visit us and even though our house isn’t so small, it feels like we’re in a sauna. The only two fans that work in our house go from one side to the other, first in the small room where we talk for a long time with our guests, then in the kitchen when we invite them to have something to drink.

It’s the first day of rest we’ve had these holidays and there doesn’t seem to be very much to keep us entertained. The announced pay-rise gives many of my friends a lot of hope, almost all of whom are professionals who work in the public sector, and I’ll get a few extra pesos in my pocket from August onwards as a university professor, which terrifies me instead of giving me peace of mind. I don’t think that this pay-rise in times of great crisis will solve a lot, but I don’t want to be a prophet of doom…

My girls dream of going camping, anywhere where there is water nearby. Their father and I do the math to try and see what we can do with what we have managed to save.

New measures in Cuba foretell changes in the country. It’s a regular Sunday at home, the first of the summer holidays. I wonder what is going on in other Cuban households.


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.