At lunch time, I walk around near my place of work in search of a coffee shop or restaurant where I can eat. Finding one isn’t always easy for, though there are many private and State establishments in Havana, I can’t always afford eating there and I have to like the place.
Jorge Milanes’s Diary
“The situation is black,” an elderly woman says to another while choosing tomatoes at a market stand, referring to how difficult things are and, as the context suggests, the high price of food products.
“I want you to take me to Monte and Cienfuegos, to the place we went to see La China last year. She’s a volcano in bed!”
This is a daily request heard from Cubans and foreigners alike.
Unconsciously, a great many Cubans long for a brother, cousin, friend, son or anyone they know to come see them from abroad, in the form a prodigal, generous, miracle-working visitor.
The silver-haired woman slowly nears the entrance to the coffee shop. A fine mesh of wrinkles cover her face, her old garments, thrown carelessly on, are creased. She holds a bag and cane in one hand and looks for something with the other, but can’t find it.
“Dude, I gave him a good stabbing, ‘cause you can’t hit an Abakua member. The person who lays a finger on me is dead!” one of the young men on the bus said out loud.
“I made arrangements from home and went to Pinar del Rio. I’ll tell you what happened later,” Oliver says to me, his face aglow, as we go up in the elevator. At lunch, he tells me he had a great welcome…
“She’s an exceptionally beautiful woman, but she doesn’t do it for me anymore. I think it best to turn my life around completely,” Oliver, one of the workmates I sometimes converse with, says to me rather worried…
“Buddy, you’ve seen how much effort I’ve put into running a tasteful and proper business,” says Hector, a neighbor of mine who recently became self-employed, opening a cafeteria at the intersection of I and 27 street in Cojimar.