Everyday Absurdities in Cuba
Let me tell you about some of the absurd things that are happening in my country.
Smokers are going crazy looking for cigarettes. One morning, while going about my everyday business of trying to find food, I ran into two smokers. One of them said to the other.
“How are you getting by with smoking?” To which the other replied, “There is a lot of dust in this town.” The first one was left stunned and lowered his mask to ask more clearly, “I was asking about cigarettes not dust.”
The other smoker repeated his answer, “I understood you, but it’s the dust that makes me smoke the most.”
Confused, the first smoker turned to me and asked, “Did you understand anything Mrs.?”
Having heard the conversation, I shrugged my shoulders and began to laugh under my mask. The man walked off repeating “We’re going bat crazy.”
What’s your hurry?
An older friend of mine, a 70-year-old woman, told me that she went to the ration store on Friday to buy her diet quota of cocoa powder with lactose and sugar that she is entitled to once a month. Going in, she saw the woman who handles these products elsewhere.
The woman asked her to be served, but the saleswoman told her to come back on Monday. The woman told her that she didn’t have anything for breakfast. The sales assistant got annoyed and said that if my friend had managed to get by the whole month with water and sugar, then two more days won’t hurt her.
Another case of absurdity involves an older woman who began to feel itchy all over her body at night. Her daughter took her to the doctor. The doctor explained that this was due to a mite that came in dust particles from the Sahara Desert. He said it attacks children and old people because of their delicate and soft skin, and that there isn’t any medicine in this country to treat this mite. The only thing he could recommend was for the woman to buy sulfur at a privately-owned religious articles store.
Another absurdity. There are kiosks called agronomist clinics in every municipality. Seeds, fruit tree seedlings, even rakes, gloves and other useful tools for gardens are sold there.
Waiting months for the new prices
A friend who was interested in buying a pair of gloves went to one of these small stores. The saleswoman, who works her hours and gets paid for them, told her that they have been waiting for new prices to come since January. She said they can’t sell anything until these prices come in. In the meantime, she sits behind the counter and works her hours every day. My friend saw some seedlings that had grown so big they would break through the roof soon if they aren’t sold.
Recently, an elderly woman went to buy her rationed bread roll at the bakery in my neighborhood, and the baker was talking on the phone. After a few minutes of waiting, the woman told her that she was in a rush and for her to give her bread roll. Without letting go of the phone, the baker replied and said that you don’t go to the bakery in a rush.
But maybe the greatest absurdity of them all is linked to the price of rationed bread rolls going up. This bread used to cost 5 cents, but now is costs the same as bread sold outside of the ration booklet. That is to say, there is no price difference. Nor are there any differences in quality, it’s the same bread.
Well, anyway. A few days ago, a man went up to the counter in the bakery and asked for his rationed bread roll. The woman serving said that there wasn’t any bread being sold via the rations booklet, that the bread was being sold freely. So, the man, who had gone with his rations booklet, made a dire gesture and left without buying bread. We are more adapted to the rations booklet than we think!
Last but no least
The latest absurdity happened yesterday, to a cousin of mine at one of these new US dollar-debit card stores.
It turns out that after buying two items at the same store, she went to another one where she was only able to buy one product, because when she went to buy shampoo (an item that can’t be found elsewhere), the sales assistant returned her card after running it through the machine. Without further explanation, the clerk told her that she couldn’t purchase more than three items on the same day. My cousin had to wait for the next day to come before being able to buy shampoo. Do they want dollars or not?
Maybe the smoker was right, we’re going bat crazy.