A Cuban Odyssey: Fixing up the Kitchen

By Repatriado

HAVANA TIMESThe house where my wife, my two children and I live belongs to my mother-in-law, my dear mother-in-law, no irony intended, I really do love her.

It’s a very long house with high ceiling, luckily its concrete and not wooden pillars, but it was built in 1942, that’s to say, it’s old and needs to be constantly repaired.

The kitchen couldn’t wait anymore so we have been saving for a while so as to repair it and make it more modern. We estimated this job to cost us around 700 CUC, but we were still short (anyone who has renovated their home knows that this always happens).

The thing is that my wife is a doctor, I’m a psychologist, but because I’m not crazy, I don’t practice as such because we would die of starvation. However, one day we were talking and we worked out what would have happened if I actually did work as a clinical psychologist which is my true vocation. Here are our findings in CUC (equal to the US dollar).

We haven’t used decimals in order to make the math a little easier but these are all real prices.

Tiles                                                 10 meters 157
Cupboards under counters 5 units 116
Adhesive cement 12 pounds 12
Metal braces 8 units 18
Sink                                                          1 unit 106
White cement 1 bag 19
Grinder to cut tiles                               1 unit 25
Wire 1 roll 2
Rebar 2 units 20
Grey cement 9 double bags 108
Sand 16 bags 23
Fine gravel 18 bags 25
Oil-based paint 1 gallon 20
Renting out 2 sections of scaffolding 16 days 32
Transport for Materials    38
Transport for Rubble   25
Labor   250
TOTAL   996


My wife earns 65 CUC per month as a specialist doctor, while I would earn 35 CUC as a psychologist, which is to say between the two of us we would earn exactly 100 CUC per month. Thus, we would have needed nearly 10 months of our entire income to have done those repairs, 10 months without eating, without drinking, without moving, in a state of hibernation in practice.

I am bombarded with questions about how the leaders of socialist Cuba fix up their kitchens. I can’t picture them accepting money from relatives who have left this socialist paradise to take root close to Miami’s anti-Cuban mafia.

By the way, that’s how my wife and I were able to pay for our new kitchen, her family helped us out.

Thanks Western Union.