Two Chinese – real Chinese, not like the Cubans in Havana’s Chinatown – were hawking goods at a store entrance.
I don’t know whether they brought that custom from their home country or have just gotten used to the Cuban way of life.
Though most of us here have ever known the terrible experience of war, no one is unaware the word “fight.”
No one in Cuba escapes having to “fight” or “struggle.”
Even if you don’t have the knack for being a merchant, somehow we find a way to sale any object that might have any value.
When I was 22, while studying on my own, I teamed up with a small group of girls who traveled to another province in search of avocados.
At that time, the price of this vegetable-like fruit had begun to shoot up. So, it became good business to go out to the country to buy them for two pesos each and sell them in the city for five or eight.
We always traveled by bicycle. We weren’t athletic, but our youthful age helped – as did our need.
After pedaling more than 25 miles, we had to find the farmer who was willing to run the risk of selling us his produce. Of course such buying and selling was illegal; if caught, either of the two parties would lose their money and avocados, in addition to receiving a fine that far exceeded a whole month of this work.
Therefore, after acquiring our avocados, we had to take supreme caution not to run into any patrol cars along the route back to Havana.
We were sometimes fortunate to run into some compassionate driver who felt sorry for us and would let us put our goods and bicycles in his truck – almost always for free. Ah…the advantages of being women.
When it was an open-air truck, without a roof, it would be one of the best experiences of the year: I would lay down looking up at the sky, blue as few are, the clouds pushed along slowly by the breeze…
I liked the adventure entailed in that trip much more than the second part of the job: selling the avocados.
We split into pairs to peddle the merchandise. “Ripe avocados!” we would shout.
I’ve always been bothered by having to yell in public. Plus I’ve never had talent for selling, so I’d always find something to distract me to avoid having to push the avocados by hollering.
That’s why I never cease to admire those people who pass by the front of “my” apartment selling air fresheners, brooms, cookies, coconut candy or offering to exchange cheese or powdered milk for used clothes.
I would love to possess their talent for the “fight” of day-to-day living.