The Price of Simple Dreams in Cuba

By Esther Zoza

HAVANA TIMES – Havana’s residents are suffering high temperatures. There aren’t enough portals in the capital. People going about their daily business find themselves jumping from one sidewalk to the next trying to find shelter from the sun.

Umbrellas, which are needed to cover us from the sun and add some color to the landscape, are hard to come by, often seen as a luxury item.

It’s a mystery why the sale of umbrellas and appropriate clothing for the hot summer months is so scarce in the State’s network of stores and businesses. While Cuba experiences a never-ending summer, the impact of the sun has become our worse nightmare. 

It’s a well-known fact that the number of people suffering from skin cancer is on the rise. The media reports this and encourages the population to take safety measures. But, what happens when you go looking to buy an umbrella?

If you’re lucky (lucky meaning that you can find them in stores, not because you can afford them), you are faced with the typical Cuban introspection, which we have inherited from Cucaracha Matina: What will I buy…? The umbrella, or…

Families on the other side of the Florida Strait come to the rescue as they do in so many other contexts and provide families here with caps, hats and suitable clothing. But, this isn’t what concerns us. What happens to us, Cubans with few resources who can’t cover ourselves in sun cream, buy umbrellas and much less hats, or shirts to cover us up from the sun? Everybody knows that clothes resellers charge exorbitant prices.

Many find a solution by going to an umbrella repair person, the guy who travels neighborhoods with their useful load of old umbrellas. An inescapable service for those of us who collect broken ones out of need. Another solution would be to increase the number of used clothes stores so as to improve supply and quality. But, this all implies waiting.

Waiting has become another habit for Cubans living on the island. However, while we wait and beg bureaucratic systems to update their out-dated glasses, many of us turn to grandma’s trunk of clothes for an old shirt, or we just dream of a Havana full of awnings where people fill their surroundings with multicolor umbrellas, why not?

2 thoughts on “The Price of Simple Dreams in Cuba

  • July 10, 2019 at 2:44 pm
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    That is why I always take two umbrellas when going home to Cuba. The heat wave 31-34C per day has lasted since the beginning of May and few Cubans have the relief of air-conditioning – and even if they do, have power-cuts, such prolonged heat normally occurs in July, August and September, so no relief is in sight.

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  • July 10, 2019 at 3:03 pm
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    Climate change is a global crisis. It’s going to get much worse with flash floods, storms, forest fires and new illnesses too. And of course the general population will bear the brunt of it. Oh and don’t forget the seas rising putting all coastal zones in a for certain risk of total loss. Agriculture too is at risk because the weather patterns have acquire a swirling effect. Extreme drought too comes to mind. When will The Big Honchos wake up to the fact that we are all in this together. ” Together We Stand, Divided We Fall.

    Reply

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