HAVANA TIMES — A few days ago I received a little economic help from a relative who had served on an African aid mission.
After several years working in Gambia, my paternal cousin, Alberto, returned to Cuba with boxes full of appliances, all types of clothes and a savings account with the equivalent of a few thousand dollars (but in Cuban hard-currency pesos, or “CUCs”),
Since Alberto and I have always been close, he decided to give me — in addition to a few things for my daughters — a few CUCs, which couldn’t have come at a better time
With that money in hand, I spent the whole night thinking about what I would buy. Though it seemed like only a little bit in hard currency, it would be a lot once I exchanged it for our regular pesos – at least it would be much more than what I had ever managed to save from my salary.
Like the cockroach in the old Cuban fable, I said to myself:
“I’ll buy a modern washing machine, But later I thought, ‘No, no, no, I don’t have enough.’ So I considered buying a blender instead. But then it occurred to me, ‘No, no, no – our old Russian one still has a few more years left in it.’ So I thought about buying tiles to fix the bathroom floor, but I decided, “No, no, no – I have other more important needs.”
After thinking and thinking what to do with my 140 CUCs, I decided to first pay the 40 CUCs that I owed. This wasn’t because “the person who pays their debts knows what’s left over” as the old saying goes, but because “the person who pays what they owe is happy.”
Then I bought underwear, which everybody at home had needed for a long time; a pair of shoes for each child, and I also purchased toiletries such as shampoo, perfume, skin cream and other such items, which we had been without for several days.
By the time I left the hard currency store, I had very little left on me, but at least I had taken care of some of my most pressing problems.