New Tennis Shoes for a Cuban Boy

By Jesus Jank Curbello (El Toque)

HAVANA TIMES – Dear Amanda, I followed the US elections the same way I followed Fargo, the series that the Coens produced. In desperation: what will happen when the cop catches the murderer? What will happen after votes count in Nevada? You know the end, but expect a twist. And you bite your nails. And it is entertaining.

Those TV shows turn off reality for you. I lived November 3 in the United States as I lived three seasons in Fargo. But I no longer remember the murderer as no one remembers Bush, the worst man in the world until recently.

Logically, the Trump-Biden war implies changes in Cuba, dependent as it is, so this is not a good comparison. Likewise, I followed the process as I tell you: with a detached, distant nervousness.

Then the results came out and my problems flared up again. The day before, on November 2, the school year had started in Havana after several months on hold due to COVID-19.

My child didn´t want to get out of the house at all. He had got used to the confinement, sleeping late, watching cartoons, playing Play Station games, not seeing anyone. Since the announcement of school restart, we tried to take him out for a short walk under the sun. But it didn’t work. I think he was paranoid. He saw coronavirus everywhere. On top of that, the block next to the house was fenced off, quarantining for Covid-19. We no longer insisted on taking him out.

At the parents’ meeting at school, it was instructed that each child should bring four masks per day. Also, that children would not receive school uniforms. However, they could wear pants and T-Shirts. So far so good.

Now, here is the real problem: my little tyke has only one pair of tennis shoes which fit him tightly. Really tight. They will not fit him next month. The last time I traveled, last year, I brought him two or three pairs. However, in the last few months his feet grew like the rest of his body without even noticing. So, it´s time to run.

Stores in Havana no longer sell children’s shoes. Not in CUC or Dollars. Her mother and I went to every shop, each one on their own. I found only one pair in a hotel, black, with white soles, Brazilian, very expensive, horrible. And giant. Two sizes above his. The clerk told me: “There are no more left and we have no idea when they will be supplied.”

I went crazy and bought them. I keep them at home. My grandmother said that if in need, he should wear them stuffed with paper. This is what people did during the Special Period. What a sad story.

I came across a thousand parents going through the same situation. In the crafts stands, in big shops, almost everywhere it was the same. We talked: “What the fuck am I supposed to put on my son’s feet? Royal palm leaves? Flip-flops?” Actually, there are no flip-flops either, so we were saying the latter as a metaphor.

On November 2, when he entered the school and saw his friends, my boy forgot the paranoia. He was very happy and looked cute with his mask and uniform, which hardly fitted. But he just put it on the first day.

That day I also did something I had never done before. I wrote to my father and ask him to buy shoes for our dwarf. The next day, with the elections, I relaxed a bit. However, I was also following them with hope in Biden, whatever that meant.

My father took his car, went to a mall around the corner and started sending me pictures of shoes. Colored, branded, without laces, with lights, with dolls. You have no idea how depressed I got. I thought why I had not stayed in the United States. I don´t want my tyke to grow up in today’s Cuba, parasitic, miserable and without future.

I picked out some really cool shoes, my dad bought them. And some clothes. And that’s what we’re doing: waiting for someone to do the favor of bringing them. Few people want to come because the plane tickets went up to a thousand dollars. Meanwhile, my dwarf goes to school in trousers and T-Shirts, which thank God they still fit him. And I pray that someone travels soon, before his foot grows another millimeter.

Say hi to Gary. Write me soon.

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3 thoughts on “New Tennis Shoes for a Cuban Boy

  • Alan,

    For the children, pens, pencils, colouring pencils, colouring books, balloons and the obvious, candy. For adults any type of over the counter medication from aspirins, Alka Seltzer, Pepto Bismal, bandages, vitamins, and reading glasses of all strengthens.

    Any clothing with “Canada” front and center will be a big hit along with baseball caps with the “Canada” logo. I am assuming you are Canadian. Have a nice safe vacation!

  • I feel sorry for the the Cubans but the USA have a lot to answer for!

  • I’m travelling to playa larga in January,what can I put in my suitcase to give to the locals ?

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