The last Havana International Trade Fair took place last month, yet I still remember what happened to me the day of its closing, which was when most people have access to the week-long event. Dehydration and hunger forced me to leave before noon that day.
In the end, the abhorrent culture that demands technological development and the aesthetics of marketing — my initial reason for not wanting to attend these fairs — never managed to saturate my being since the “lack of food” forced me to leave before seeing many of the stands.
When I was most delighted in the discovery of the operation of that whole technological rigmarole on display, I begin to suffer a splitting headache. I immediately realized that it was already lunchtime so I offered to buy my companions an instant soda, knowing that in the context of this event our domestic currency would not be allowed for any larger purchase.
“Only a little soda to wind up visiting all the booths” was my thought while I was looking for the food court. One always guards the hope that the Red Cross will assure some minimum service for a common worker, especially on closing day when they see the most people.
But the Red Cross didn’t even have soda from the tap for us bearers of domestic currency. It had been of absolutely no use for us to have gotten into this or any other fair; the Interpol of CUCs had caught us. They always succeed in surrounding us with tuna snacks and imported beer, pointing out to us their respective prices of $1.50 CUC and $2.35.
Like always, we had to decide between going back home to eat for lunch what we had planned to have for dinner or to control the adrenaline sparking our consumerist dreams so as to visit the rest of the booths.
I always opt to return home. I’d never understand how a solar panel works on an empty stomach, and less still could I thumb through the catalog of hams that the Bravo Company was handing out on that closing day.
Later I learned that on that day the Americans — excuse me! — Alimport (the Cuban importing company) were giving out croquettes for free to the famished visitors. It made me a little embarrassed to think of myself wrapped up in the struggle to eat from the hands of a US businessman.
Maybe it was a question of prejudice, but I had avoided the arduous task of explaining to my companions the necessity to confront whatever colonialism that they reserve for us in these international trade fairs, in management and in hard currency.