May 2010

In my planet, as in many others, lots of things are chased after.  But the difference here lies in the fact that we are pursuing much more and at the same time are being pursued ourselves.

For example, right now rice, that simple grain, has more people chasing after it than Jack Bauer himself.  The popular intelligence network constantly informs us about where we can find that grain.  Sometimes it’s in this supermarket, or that one, etc.  But if you don’t have a car (with a powerful and working engine), you will surely arrive late and there won’t even be a single grain left for you to take home.

With much hype, our planetary newspaper continues announcing the production of rice, but the truth is that only the press can see this.

Every once in a while I’m able to get some.  They tell me it was taken from Palco.  People, this is a diplomatic supermarket (at least in theory) where everything is more expensive than in other places.  Everyday Cubans (those who have cars are athletes or famous musicians) never buy there, for the journey of getting there consists of traveling through multiple provinces.  It’s located in the most intricate space of what once was the Biltmore Building, now known as Flores (which translated into English means “Flowers”- ironically, there are none anywhere around it).  It’s located very deep into the town, almost in the sea.  Despite all these difficulties, a diplomatic friend of mine told me that last week they had imported packs of rice and those Cubans who found out took 5 or 6 bags.  She couldn’t step out of her shock, she told me that only in the 8th season of 24 (the TV show) had she seen so many people chasing someone or something.

Translated by Raul G.


That is what my planet’s Ministry of Public Health says.

And it is exactly this same sector which confronts more hygiene problems.  I’m only going to share some images and their places of occurrence.

Excerpt from the Granma newspaper.

Observe the bulk distribution in small shops of Pinar del Rio of milk for kids up to 7 years of age:  A jar, a funnel, and a deep plate to catch anything that falls out.

Public bathroom, Offices of Identity Cards, located in the Embil building.

Hallway in the waiting room of a family doctor, 24th street, Nuevo Vedado.

A picture is worth more than a thousand words!

Translated by Raul G.

Today I once again had to go to the La Lonja del Comercio in Old Havana. This time I took my sister, who suffers with her knee and has little mobility.

There, in a place behind the building, are all those citizens who have been called for interviews or to submit petitions for Spanish citizenship, based on having a grandparent from Spain. My sister was in the latter group.

When the time of the summons arrive, they call your name and surnames. They show you to a room where a tall black man, very nice, gives you a series of explanations about how to fill out the documents or even helps you with something new (which is not his job) in case you’re mistaken about some data.

He then explains how you must submit the papers, the order of the waiting line, and tells you, now, those who have the petitions can go into a little room, where it’s very crowded and hot, as if you were riding in those buses called Camels, only the advantage is, these Camels are going to take you to Spain. Up that point it went very well, but then the problems started:

In the case of grandparents, like mine, who never became Cuban citizens, who never worked for anyone (they were self-employed), and who never registered with any governmental office, how can you get a document that proves they were Spanish, but without it you can’t do the paperwork. You have to show the presence of a grandparent in Cuba, they say, but isn’t it enough to show the birth certificate of their daughter where the grandparent shows up as the person who wrote it? Is it not enough to have a marriage certificate of this grandfather, with the grandmother of the applicant? Or last but not least the death certificate and the cemetery papers that show that the grandparents died and is buried in Cuba? Is there any change that in 1912 there was artificial insemination and the Internet. Then, gentlemen, how could my grandfather have accomplished all these acts of presence without stepping foot in the country?

Now tell me the truth: You don’t believe that if the Spanish here in our homeland, given so many difficulties of establishing themselves, we would be the descendants of God knows what ethnicity. Nothing, when the forms and the paperwork are finally finished, if I am successful, it wouldn’t be more than chopped meat with olive oil.

I have often commented about those who seem to have no sense of being rooted to anything nor any respect for anything and who use their energies to convert the city to a dunghill.  However, to my delight (and to that of many who think like I do), today I was struck by an image that suddenly appeared in my path.

I got off the bus in that place known as La Verbena, located in the municipality of Playa, a place where many important routes cross.  I was walking towards 8th street on Miramar.  I went down Lazaro Cardenas Avenue as a shortcut when suddenly I saw the skeleton of a tree emerging from the sidewalk across the street.  I quickly pulled out my camera and set out to photograph the site for my collection of “massacred trees.”  I was so pleasantly surprised by the image my eyes were capturing.  All I could do was take these photos which I share with you today.  This confirmed that despite the cruel reality of my planet, there are still sensible people who do anything they can to decorate their surroundings.

This gracious image, which sprung up in front of me, lifted my spirits and gave me an optimistic push to get to where I was going.

Translated by Raul G.

Patch-work by Rebeca

More than half a century ago, this restaurant became famous because, among other things, of the affluence as well as the show business of that era.  It was the perfect place to relax and chat.  All in all, the place was popular due to its great cooking and cocktail bar.  As if this was not enough, its beautiful view of the Port converted the place into one of the most visited night-time locations of our capital, famous throughout all of America.

One of the most devoted clients of the place was Maria Valero, a beautiful Madrid native who enjoyed an incredible amount of popularity for being the youngest lady to take part in the most popular soap opera of the time: The Right to be Born.  She established herself in Cuban radio, finding her apotheosis in the character of Isabel Cristina, a role that Feliz B. Caignet wrote for her, which eventually converted her into a true Caribbean radio star.

Her death, from an accident on the morning of November 28, 1948 while she was crossing Puerto Avenue to admire the splendor of a comet in the sky, led to a true public mourning.

After many years of being closed, after the triumph of the Revolution, and having previously been a miserable inn, El Templete is now resurgent like a Phoenix.  But this time, not even the glamor of the celebrity world of this planet has access to it, unless a foreigner invites them, for besides showing its menu with prices as high as the very stars, their exquisite dishes are sold in CUC.  Almost none of us have access to such currency.

Note:  A huge “thank you” to my friend who gave me this menu, for she knows I collect them.

Translated by Raul G.

Today, I am sharing with you the following piece of work which my friend, Fernando, sent me and which gave the title to this post:

There exists a magnificent German documentary called “The Art of Making Ruins” which shows some ruins in Havana and the people who inhabit them.  Seeing it is unpleasant.  However, if we desire, its run time could extend beyond infinity, taking into account all the amounts and varieties of ruins that exist which grow in geometric progression.  If something has been successful during these 50 years and plus, it has been the act of destroying all that had been done before and converting it into ruins.

For our towns and cities as well (the case of Havana has been shocking), today the sugar, livestock, railroad, coffee, chocolate, tobacco, road, hospital, school, sewer and aqueduct industries are also ruins.  This national planet, converted thanks to the work and grace of the incapacity and carelessness of one grand ruin, tries to sell itself as such to the producers of musical video clips.  The ruins have been converted to a commercial product, of course in a currency that is freely convertible.  Some good ruins, along with some girls barely wearing any clothes, a few bottles of rum, and lots of music is what really sells.  Lacking any others, this seems to be the grand new product up for export.

Translated by Raul G.

In my planet the word “ocambo” is synonymous with being “very old”.

Without a doubt, I, just like many others, like dinosaurs.  By this I am referring to those giant animals that roamed the earth thousands of years ago and whose fossils continue to be discovered up to this day.

When I was a little girl, reproductions of these dinosaurs in the form of beautiful toys did not exist like they do today.  I only came to know them through books and comic-books.  Yet a rare species of this animal still survives in my planet, surely descendents of those who existed long ago.  They are the “ocambosaurus politicis cubinicis” and they lack the ability to arouse the scientific and cultural interest that their ancient ancestors have.

When they reappear at any given place, and our planet Cuba seems to have all the right natural ingredients to sustain them, they represent a turn towards the past, a real regression, the recycling of something completely obsolete and unnecessary.  In the course of many years they have proven their incapacity, for they are impeded by their very own nature from adapting to the changes that are made necessary by the new times in order to generate solutions for the current problems and to obtain necessary progress and well-being in the long run.

Taking this into consideration, the only option which we have left in order to recycle them would be to launch a good tourist marketing campaign that would appeal to those visitors who dream of seeing one of these giant living, or semi-living, animals.  But I don’t think they are really worth it.

Translated by Raul G.

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