I’d always thought of the whole dengue fever business as something that happens to others, something people can die from, but not anyone close to me. I imagine a lot of people think this way and will continue to do so. I don’t think this way anymore.
Osmel Almaguer’s Diary
I recently paid the province of Mayabeque (formerly the eastern part of La Habana) a visit. I was invited to a meeting of writers at the Casa del Joven Creador (“Young Artist Community Center”) located in San Jose, the province’s head municipality.
When a Cuban doesn’t know what a rissole is made out of, they say it’s a “hoonos rissole.” Whoever’s next to them then says: “Who knows what it’s got inside!” and everyone has a good laugh. In addition to the few ounces of ground soy-meat you get through your ration booklet every so often, sometimes they sell you a type of mincemeat (at market price) which is practically inedible.
The receptionist at the polyclinic kindly explained to me that the ultrasound request I’d brought had been filled out incorrectly, for, according to her, it wasn’t possible to examine the liver, gallbladder, bladder, kidneys and biliary tracts in a single ultrasound procedure.
I titled my first book of poetry La Pendiente (“The Slope”), in reference to the place where I live, located at the foot of a hill to the south of Havana’s peripheral neighborhood of Alamar. In La Pendiente, I get a number of things about the place and its people off my chest.
Ciego de Avila is a province experiencing vigorous development. Created relatively recently, as part of the political and administrative restructuring of 1976, most of its infrastructure is of recent creation. This is a piece about my visit there not that long ago.
The Bucanero beer had been adulterated. It had no foam, tasted bad and gave my friend a strong headache. I don’t think we’ll be buying anything at the kiosk at the intersection of 23 and G in Havana anymore, what with the lousy service we got and the general lack of cleanliness there.
For a little over a month, a series of thefts have been taking place in the area of Alamar where I live. The things being stolen are bananas. Apparently, the wrongdoers are from different places, as the traces they leave behind, and their modus operandi as a whole, differ significantly from case to case.
Thousands of Cubans are trying their luck in different private businesses in response to the country’s new self-employment laws. For some, the adventure of opening up a cafeteria or offering any type of service is just that: an adventure.
We speak so much about the moral degradation of Cuban society that sometimes it feels we are deep in a quagmire that can’t get any worse. This isn’t exactly true, and we should not deceive ourselves that it is. This trend continues to grow and the “decent” appear to have become immune to it.