By Irina Echarry, photos: Caridad
HAVANA TIMES, Nov. 11 – Every year the Havana International Trade Fair becomes a setting for the amazing. On the closing day many people travel to ExpoCuba, the exhibition center par excellence, to take a look at the quality of products displayed there.
The public is diverse, though most go as families. The State ensures auxiliary transportation from the city’s center to the site, 12 miles south of Havana.
The expressions of exclaim assault your ears.
Antonio Garcia looked at a shower in the Italy pavilion and said jokingly, “When I see such a sophisticated apparatus, I feel dirty. It’s as if I’ve never taken a good bath.”
Of course he was exaggerating, but that didn’t stop him from having reasons to be surprised. People who visit the fair (I’m referring to the ordinary public) come to get a sense of new developments.
According to Camila, a 40-year-old housewife, “This is a dream; and that’s taking into account that I haven’t seen so many things this year. I’ve come here since the first fairs, those were a real explosion. We’d never seen such beautiful things. The stores selling in hard currency were not open yet, and it was a huge shock when we got here.”
“I remember the first time that I came to the trade fair I fell in love with a stroller. I was pregnant and wanted it for my son, but it was only a whim I couldn’t realize. They didn’t even sell it, but I had to resign myself to the one I’d used when I was little. My mother had kept it well preserved all those years. Luckily, for my second child, we were able to save up enough and buy a pretty one at the store,” she explained.
On the other hand, it seems that everyone knows how important this event is for the country’s economy; contracts are signed, financial agreements are made, different firms strengthen ties…
Yet, as one visitor said, “I don’t know how much we all really benefit from this. The nation’s economy is worse every day. The news reported by the journalist is in vague figures. But speaking for me, I can’t tell to what degree we’re improving or not with this fair.
“All the food products offered here for the public are sold in hard-currency CUCs,” the visitor continued, “so I can’t say they’re keeping the people in mind. For an average wage-earner who wants to spend a Saturday morning here with their family looking at nice-looking and useful things…I don’t know, I don’t know what to say.”
Opinions are diverse. Some point to the limited food selection beyond the reach of almost everyone, others note the well-provided transportation, while many mention the space for children to run around and enjoy the rides in the surrounding amusement park.
Some are left astonished with the embroidering machine exhibited by Mexico; still others find out that the Union of Cuban Raw Material Recovery Companies gathers, processes and markets scraps and recyclable waste using a wide range of materials.
Most stand in rapture looking at a comfortable Hyundai automobile or the milk products from Argentina.
Each person -with their own preferences or needs- goes from pavilion to pavilion to be surprised.
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