“Leandro, I want you to iron-out my hair and give me a haircut like yours. And don’t worry, I have money.” The person addressed, on hearing the word “money”, began taking out the gear. My neighbor then asked: “Can you do it?”
Jorge Milanes’s Diary
“Look mom, a big ram!” yelled a kid at the top of his lungs, thrilled at seeing the animal through the bus window. He was going to Pinar del Rio’s Viñales valley for a daytrip with his family. His comment made some passengers laugh.
Gregorio has no money, not even enough to put food on his table. This is reflected in his mood. That’s why he never goes out; so that people won’t notice the dire financial straits he is in. This is one of the many sad situations we see today of people who worked their whole lives.
Many people in Cuba dislike the popular frase echar un palo (“to throw someone a stick”). In their view, this idiom – which all of us understand – is a rather vulgar way of referring to the sexual act. Recently, I had a chat with Paula, a cultural journalist, and we tried to get to the bottom of the said phrase.
The promotional message which ETECSA sent to mobile users recently illustrates why I don’t own a cell phone. The message read, verbatim: “If you add 20 CUC (Cuban Convertible Pesos) of credit to your line from April 15 to 19, you will receive 40 CUC of credit.”
The large bus substitute people in Cuba call “camels” – a means of transportation created in the 1990′s to address a critical period of shortages in the country – are a dying species. Once, Havana was teeming with these two-humped lorries with noisy doors which were always packed with passengers.
“Out on the street with my kids, helpless, I started to yell outside the apartment Roberto and I had bought. The lady in the apartment took pity on us and offered me and the children a room to stay in while I looked for a place to settle,” my friend Lila tells me.
“Jorge,” said the faint voice of a silhouette I see behind the window. It’s Lila, a friend from junior and senior high school who did a Bachelor’s in Economics (while I had studied Naval Engineering). I thought she had left for the United States.
Recently, I was finally able to meet with my Internet pen-pal Lo Lai Hing in person. He travelled to Cuba from Hong Kong with his mother, Yue Wing. They were very happy. It was their first time in Cuba.