Caridad

Caridad: If I had the chance to choose what my next life would be like, I’d like to be water. If I had the chance to eliminate a worst aspect of the world I would erase fear. Of all the human feelings I most like I prefer friendship. I was born in the year of the first Congress of the Cuban Communist Party, the day that Gay Pride is celebrated around the world. I no longer live on the east side of Havana; I’m trying to make a go of it in Caracas, and I continue to defend my right to do what I want and not what society expects of me.

If Haruki Murakami lived in Venezuela

Caridad

The eyes of Chavez.

HAVANA TIMES — I’m on vacation and I’ve decided not to go away and leave home for a couple of weeks. As I don’t believe I can travel, taking into account the fact that I barely have enough money to eat, I prefer to stay by myself… with my cat, in mutual silence, sometimes listening to Craig Prues or Shinmaya Dunster.

Resting after a year where I have spent most of it, including weekends, taking photos for somebody I believe is a bad person, but without whose salary I wouldn’t have survived 2016.

Silence.

I take it in.

I go to sleep late, reading. Sometimes, I wake up at 10 AM in the morning, 12 PM, or 2 PM in the afternoon. I take out a piece of fruit from the fridge; I peel it and put it in the food processor. As tap water leaves an earthy residue, algae or whatever it has in it, I take out a big bottle we’ve bought which was almost as expensive as my camera when I bought it 4 years ago. I drink my juice and then feed my white cat, who has grey patches in her white fur, which I only discovered after she grew up, in the shape of two hearts about to come together. How romantic my cat is!

She has lost a lot of weight, she doesn’t eat cat food anymore, it took her a while to get used to cooked food. A lot of people went crazy with the price and shortages of cat food and even gave dog food to their cats. People say that many of them died or got sick as a result. I foresaw the situation. I didn’t want to lose my cat’s two romantic hearts so I started her off first with fried sardines to convince her to eat something else apart from her colored, tiny and greasy biscuits that she liked so much. Every week, I cook up a pot of rice, sardine heads, oats and chicken liver. Sometimes, I add some broccoli, beetroot or carrot. But she prefers to eat beetroot raw.

I don’t know whether she hates me for the change in her diet, but she looks a lot better, although thinner.

I put the coffee on; today I don’t have any bread. For a long time now, getting bread has become a very difficult… and expensive task. We used to buy whole wheat bread, the kind that comes in a bag; but they don’t sell that anymore anywhere, only a few questionable brands which are way too expensive appear on store shelves. Everyday bread from the bakery isn’t as healthy, but anyway, the government has put a price cap on bread and bakery owners only sell two or three times a day. The lines are extremely long and humiliating. I prefer not to eat bread. The other option is to eat arepas. But I don’t have anything to stuff it with, and anyway it’s better to save the two packets of flour I’ve had since last year, I don’t know when I’m going to be able to get hold of another.

I have a little bit of rice with squash and broccoli left over (I’d had the broccoli in the freezer for a couple months, it’s not in season anymore and you can’t find it for now). I heat it up. I laugh to myself because I’ve always hated eating “meals” for breakfast. My stomach prefers juices, bread and butter, well, I didn’t have butter in Cuba, but I’ve never been a lover of eggs and luncheon meat for breakfast anyhow. Now things are different. Now, I have to be grateful for the fact that at least I have some rice left over from last night. I have to be grateful for the fact that I still have rice. I’ve tried to make arepas with cassava sometimes, I fry it and it’s really delicious.

It’s good to wake up around midday, that way I don’t have to eat as much.

I start cooking the cassava around 6 PM. I have some carrots and beans. It’ll be a banquet, although if I have to tell you the truth, if I stay up until late, I do get hungry again.

My daily salary is less than 2000 Bolivars. An empanada, the cheapest and quite unhealthy food you can buy on the street, used to cost 2 Bolivars when I came to Venezuela. Now it costs 1000 Bolivars. My breakfasts on the go have ended, not even from time to time.

I go out to buy a carton of 30 eggs. I come back in shock. It now costs 8000 Bolivars. It was better not to go out, to stay at home in peace so as not to use too much energy. It’s a joke I say to myself, next week I’ll start working again and I won’t earn any more money because of it, but I’ll have to wake up earlier and use more energy eating the same diet, taking photos of a bad person.

  • Moses Patterson

    I hope that the “bad person” that you work for doesn’t read this article for your sake. Venezuela sounds like it is getting close to collapse. Another socialist experiment goes belly up.