The Drought and an Unexpected Reply

Rosa Martínez


HAVANA TIMES — The water was running across the sidewalk unchecked. Several people worriedly looked at the fatal spill, wondering, perhaps, where in our draught-stricken city it could be coming from. The sight was just one more worry we Cubans deal with every day.

I was going to continue on my way to do my daily routines, like nothing was happening, but something (I’d like to think it was my conscience) got hold of me and made me stop. I couldn’t stop thinking about the 15 days we spent at home without a drop of water and the number of large buckets of water we had to carry back from the trucks that occasionally showed up, or about the quarrels we had in the neighborhood over this situation.

I followed the stream of water and got to the source of the precious liquid, essential to all living creatures and increasingly scarce these days (owing to climate change brought on by our actions, or so scientific studies reveal).

Instead of one leak, I came across two: one from the home of Fina, a neighbor we all like very much, and the other from the garage of Rafael, a young man which everyone in the neighborhood says has a chip on his shoulder.

I went over to Fina’s without giving it a second thought. I felt that our friendship would make my complaint easier to get across.

“Don’t think I’m sticking my nose in your business,” I said to her, “but, how can you let so much water go to waste with the shortages we have around the country, not to mention Guantanamo, one of the provinces worst-hit by this. Don’t you know the situation could get worse when the dry season starts? We’re going through the worst draught of the last 115 years. C’mon, Yeya!”

“Are you the water police?” she replied, only half-jokingly. “Don’t get worked up, girl. When it runs out, we’ll simply carry it back home. What else can we do? We Cubans are used to difficult times, so, leave me alone and don’t talk to me about saving or anything like that, I’ve spent my whole life saving on everything.”

My neighbor and friend’s reply didn’t discourage me. She’s like that, she says the first thing that comes into her head (and, at any rate, she closed off the pipe). Having achieved my objective, I headed (with some fear) to the home of irate Rafael.

“Sorry to bother you,” I said, barely opening my mouth. “I wanted to let you know you’re spilling water out onto the street…” He didn’t even let me finish and, to my surprise, said: “My god, there’s so little water and I’m flushing it away right here. I’ll get on it right away!”

So is life: we sometimes get the best responses from those we least expect.

The draught in Guantanamo continues. Water distribution cycles are being stretched out over time even more. Locals have to carry the water back home from wherever it shows up. Tanker-trucks are nowhere to be found, and, when they come around, they head straight to the homes of people with money who can pay to have their tanks filled, or to those of State officials who use their contacts to solve their problems. All the while, we common folk try to manage as best we can.

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.

2 thoughts on “The Drought and an Unexpected Reply

  • My in-laws live in Guantanamo. I can confirm that based on what they have told us that the drought is the worst that anyone has ever experienced in the area. Here in San Francisco, we are also dealing with record drought conditions. However, I have no plans to carry buckets of water home from a water truck. For me it means that I shouldn’t wash my car more than once a week. I didn’t ask my suegro but I have no doubt that a few hundred pesos of the financial help my wife sends has gone toward paying the water truck driver a tip for making an extra stop in front of the house. The only extra expense my drought has cost is the extra fee we pay included in the water bill. Of course I live in a modern city and Guantanamo is a once beautiful town imprisoned by the Castro regime in the past. The comparisons, while unfair, do speak to what Castros revolution has cost the Cuban people.

  • Drought is terrible, and hard to deal with even here in the USA., where the infrastructure is better. Can you use seawater to flush commodes and for other types of non food preparations? Mopping the floor with sea water may not be the best, but saving the potable water makes one find alternatives.

    I hope your drought breaks and water becomes more available in quantity for all to use.

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