HAVANA TIMES – Thirsty and hungry, animals and humans roam the city’s streets in search of food. Dreaming of finding the product they long for, like an oasis in the desert. Full of mirages disguised as lines outside every store door. You quickly run to the crowd and ask the question that’s imprinted on every Cuban’s mind: “What are they selling?”
Very rarely do you get the response you’re hoping for (personal hygiene items, food, etc.) It’s sad seeing people run to get in line and then they only “take out” a product they don’t need. This is when the line becomes a heartbreaking illusion…
Our country is full of strange details, which are also degrading. We live on an island where you can’t find fish at the fish store (and we are surrounded by sea). Cellphones are among the most expensive in the world, and Internet access is sky-high too.
It’s a place where studying and becoming a professional isn’t enough to live a dignified life. Yet, those who dedicate themselves to stealing, or better yet “hustling” (a popular euphemism to cover up the word stealing) do a hell of lot better.
Seeing professionals in Cuba (teachers, engineers, doctors, lawyers, etc.) walking down the street or on old bikes, wearing shoes full of stitches and relatively old clothes, is completely normal in our society. What really “catches” our attention is when we see a professional in their own car, living in a house where they don’t have to share the roof with different generations of their family, or enjoying their holidays at any hotel on the island.
These are completely normal things in any other society in the world, where a professional earns a fair wage for their work. This contrasts sharply with what happens in Cuba. Here, teachers get by with gifts from their students’ parents. And doctors get by with a charitable (or even pitiful) gesture from a patient.
Another “strange fact” is that we have very few ambulances. This causes a collapse in the system when there are large-scale accidents, or many calls at the same time. Such situations result in tragedies a lot of the time. But do you know what? There are plenty of police patrol cars, old and new alike.
Ironically, they don’t do their job either. If you call 106 (the police’s number) it’s a tragicomedy. They rarely respond quickly; most of the time, it takes them hours or they just don’t show up.
So, what then? Not enough ambulances to respond to emergencies, or lots of patrol cars that only come immediately in two instances. These are on police TV series or when the problem affects some interest to the State.
We know that one of the meanings of ‘oasis’ is: “area with vegetation and water which is found isolated in the desert.” However, there is another definition, and it is this definition that I’m referring to in this article: “a truce, a break.”
All of society wanders around like robots looking for basic food and other essentials. This sadly keeps us entertained or alienated. They still don’t realize that we are looking for this oasis, for a truce, a break, this FREEDOM… This is when I ask myself: WHERE IS CUBA’S OASIS?