Yenisel Rodriguez

Plantain seller. Photo: Caridad

I never thought I’d witness in the streets of Havana a traditional wheelbarrow for selling vegetables and tropical fruits.  I had previously only seen them in photos from “back in the day,” as these had disappeared soon after of the arrival of the Revolution.  Their loss was something that Americans call “collateral damage.”

To discover that form of wooden transportation was an indescribable experience; I felt like I was traveling back in time.  After a few hours, though, my experience in science fiction turned into a socioeconomic reflection. I wondered: Is it is possible for the culture of commerce to be reborn in Cuba; can we return to selling goods without running the risk of feeling like or becoming criminals?

A traditional wheelbarrow for the sale of agricultural products is something technologically unbeatable. It possesses a sufficiently expansive surface to place a wide variety of merchandise; it allows easy access to the product on the part of the buyer; and the commodities stay fresh. In short, the act of buying and selling is ennobled.

So far only I’ve only seen this type of commercial activity carried out with masonry carts, a type of mobile basin in which fruits and vegetables promiscuously rub against each other exchanging their textures and flavors, something that never pleases the consumer.  Recalling the carts of street vendors of days gone by increased my satisfaction when seeing that wooden cart. Its big steel wheels rocked the streets of the Santo Suarez neighborhood.

Hopefully what I’ve seen was not an activity from a past that can no longer survive today, but the first wave of a cosmic artifact that will lead us toward a utopia of full stomachs and free souls.


Yenisel Rodriguez

Yenisel Rodriguez Perez: I have lived in Cuba my entire life, except for several months in 2013 when I was in Miami with my father. Despite the 90 miles that separate Havana and Miami, I find profound reasons in both for political and community activism. My encounter with socio-cultural anthropology eight years ago prepared me for a commitment of love for cultural diversity.

2 thoughts on “The Return of Wheelbarrow Vendors?

  • If you have visited the eastern end of the island where I live this is a common sight everyday. We buy are fruits and vegetables from merchants pushing wheelbarrows,riding bikes or horses. I guess in the city you have forgotten the simpler way of life.

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