14ymedio, Marcelo Hernandez, Havana, 30 June 2016 — He had tried everything: He sold the old family dishes, pawned his grandfather’s possessions and began renting an area in his house for parties. However, his retirement pension wasn’t enough to support Miguel Angel Garrido, known as “Gelmo,” a resident of Havana’s Calabazar neighborhood. And so it was, until one day he realized he had a treasure in his yard: an enormous clump of avocado that, every season, was covered with hundreds of the delicious fruit.
Gelmo sold the splendid tree to two pushcart vendors. He didn’t have to transplant it or move it to another place, but all the avocados will be placed in the hands of the two vendors of agricultural products. The transaction generated 200 Cuban convertible pesos for the retiree, along the phrase, “Old man, when you want you can eat an avocado, because at the end of the day, the shrub is yours,” offered by one of the buyers with a certain tone of pity.
The price of this food in the informal market ranges between 10 and 15 Cuban pesos each, a day’s pay for a laborer, so everyone wins in this transaction, especially at this time when the increase in foreign tourists has unleashed a fury of avocado consumption in hotels, private restaurants, and homes rented to travelers.
Gelmo’s avocado bush is the most desirable kind, a Catalina. Although it is “middle aged” it is fully productive. The hardest thing has been to protect it from the winds of hurricanes, because the trunk is of an almost glassy wood, which cracks easily in strong gusts. The rest is up to nature because “it grows like crazy” says the proud owner, who believes that the best investment he’s made in his life is “planting this blessed tree.”
The old man nervously awaited the first rains of the summer. “Until the water touches it, it does nothing,” he says. The rainfall in early June helped out, and now in the middle of his yard are the branches bursting with this fruit which is used in salads and is gaining adherents among those who cannot eat butter because of the cholesterol, and is also in demand in beauty salons to make skin masks.
Gelmo guards the fruit hanging from sturdy branches now, to ensure that it is not plundered by the neighborhood kids, or doesn’t end up falling to the ground as food for the pigs he also keeps in the yard. Every single one of these costly fruits that the pushcart vendors manage to sell will be one more step to selling, again next year, his avocados.