Getting Used to Havana’s WI-FI

Yanelys Nunez Leyva

Photo: Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES — Ever since my problems began because of my involvement with the Cuban Museum of Dissent, I haven’t been able to connect to the internet again at my old workplace, the Revolution and Culture magazine.

Even though it was painfully slow and unhurried, it allowed me to surf the web a bit every day.

Due to my new circumstance, officially unemployed from a government institution, I have to go to the nearest WIFI spot to my house: about 7 or 8 blocks away at the Fe del Valle Park.

And as this has been going on for some weeks now, I’d like to share my routine with you. JJJ

It’s late afternoon and the sun is scorching, but I don’t wait until it gets dark because I’m afraid I might get robbed. Unfounded fears maybe, but I’m afraid all the same.

I get to the park and hover around the area for a moment, only to realize that all the benches in the shade have been taken like they normally are. And I think to myself, that in Cuba nobody finishes their 8 hour working day or maybe there are too many unemployed people like me. Dammit.

I cross the road and go to the Trasval Superstore, where all of its shelves are half empty now, but it doesn’t matter and people still go there, like when it first opened a few years ago, and we all still hoped that the escalator would work one day.

I try to sit a little bit away from my cyber colleagues and take out my laptop. I put the laptop bag under me to make my seat more comfortable. People walk quickly by on the pavement or sidewalk, I sit in the middle, I try to move out of their way a little, but calmly, I need to forget the world around me if I want to get what I’m looking for.

I connect without any problems, it’s super fast, I haven’t seen anything like this before. Youtube videos play after a few seconds. I get goosebumps.

I’ve been dreaming about this moment, about being able to see a video online, for four years. I need to stop thinking about these things. Time. I only have an hour and I can’t afford to spend another 3 dollars.

The first thing I do is check my email and I have to read all my annoying Facebook notifications in a hurry where information from other sites I’m subscribed to mix with personal and work emails, exhibition invitations, etc.

I have to be selective, I download what I find interesting so I can read it later at home.

After 15 minutes, I need to try and move my feet, I already have cramps, but I can’t stretch them out because people are walking past which is their own fair right.

I can’t spend too much time worrying about my cramps. I check the time I have left on Nauta’s home page and I realize that I’ve already used too much. I’ve got the feeling that an hour on these cards is much shorter than an hour in real time. Another ETECSA invention? I wouldn’t be surprised.

I return to my emails, I copy and paste all my draft emails that I’d written up before and that can be found on my PC desktop; and I send them to all my recipients interchangeably. It’s a new strategy I have to save time and money. Once again, time.

I disconnect. I try to remember the websites I wanted to visit. Impossible. There was one related to residencies abroad. I feel blocked.

I’m sweating a little and the sweat in my eyes doesn’t let me see the computer screen clearly. The almendrones (US cars from the ‘40s and ‘50s used as taxis) pass by and cover me in smoke. And I’d just had a shower. It doesn’t matter. I need to concentrate. What was the website?

I stop. I connect again and check my Facebook. I look for the last lot of links that people have shared. The most recent bits of gossip about the Cuban art world. Nothing new. Zero chatting. Not possible.

I download art-related articles as well as national and international news. I’m happy. I leave a little bit more up to date. I tell myself not to feel sorry for myself.

That’s the end. There’s only a few minutes remaining. My back, neck, eyes and behind are already hurting anyway. Everything hurts.

I leave. Smiling. I only think about this diary post. And how good I’ll feel when I write it.

2 thoughts on “Getting Used to Havana’s WI-FI

  • US President Barack Obama in his inaugural speech also offered a free service.
    Open information is the enemy of socialismo. That restriction (constriction?) is permanent policy.

  • The unspoken yet worst part of this article is that Yanelys struggles to do what I can do for free from any Starbuck’s is soooo unnecessary. Both French and Spanish internet technology firms have offered to connect most of Cuba with high-speed internet access for FREE. The Castros, for fear of losing control of the information going in and coming out of Cuba, rejected these offers. Google made a similar offer.

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