By Safie M. Gonzalez
HAVANA TIMES – It was 11 AM and I was in the middle of Vedado, and the sun was at its highest point in the sky, dehydrating anyone underneath it. I always leave the house with a bottle of water, but I’d already finished it.
I was sorting out some things for work and then I decided to go into one of those state-run stores (of the few left here) which, by the way, had practically empty shelves. I went in out of curiosity more than anything else. It’s true, prices were cheap, but it’s impossible to leave the place with everything you need because they hardly had anything. I didn’t buy anything.
At the agro-market’s exit, there was a man with a cart loaded with products, including black beans which he was selling for “100 CUP already” per pound; a pound of lemons (5 small lemons) for 70 pesos; a small avocado, 25 CUP; and I didn’t want to keep looking. What for? He also had onions, garlic, beans, and so much more, but I preferred to go on my way without buying anything. (Officially 25 pesos = 1 USD)
I know that this isn’t news, we’ve been getting by for months like this already. Some people can buy these products one day, for them to last how long? How many pounds of beans? Of lemons?
In the end, I was determined to go back home. I was thirsty and my water bottle was empty. I headed towards the stores under the Yara movie theater, there’s a small place there which was closed for indoor consumption for the population during the pandemic (I don’t know if it’s reopened yet or not), but it had always stayed “open”, selling very little, a few alcoholic drinks.
I remembered that they used to sell bottles of water for 50 cents CUC or 12 pesos, but even that’s not the case anymore. That’s not the worst thing though, the worst thing is that you can’t find this precious liquid in any state-run store, at least those selling in national currency.
I carried on walking, and I found a small bottle of water (250 ml) for 30 pesos at a private cafe. I bought it, I was dying of thirst and I still needed to catch the public transport to my house. In this long chain, of us Cubans, the link that always breaks is our one, us regular Cubans.
With a bit of luck, “maybe” Cubans will be able to find at least a bottle of water for a more affordable price to appease our thirst once the country opens up to tourism again. But I can’t find a possible solution for the price of all the other products that are cultivated in our land.