In Treble Clef* / Rosa Maria Rodriguez

The killer sun that perches over Cuba every year hit me harder this August because I had to go several times to the branch of ETESCA in Casino Deportivo to use the online navigation room there.  It is two kilometers from my house and there is no way to get there except on foot, with the heat from the asphalt under my soles and the midday sun burning my skin.

Private taxis charge two CUCs or the equivalent in Cuban pesos to transport someone from Monaco there.  At that location there are only three sad little machines for a population of several thousand inhabitants. One of the two gatekeepers — the plump “nice lady,” who at times dozes off in her chair from boredom — takes reservations and watches over the three spots while the neighbors from the buildings across the street rest in their homes, perhaps in order to combat the drowsiness that every so often makes her nod off.  So in addition to waiting and fighting with the line of people, you must also “take a number” from the drowsy caregiver.

The saddest thing is when it urges you to connect yet you discover that you have no credit left on a card that costs $4.50 CUCs per hour and that is only valid for a month.  If your purchase happens to coincide with a special discount on telephone service that the company — the only one in Cuba — offers, it becomes a really irritating problem.  The special offer leads to demographic congestion at the entrance, sidewalk and flowerbeds of the store location because the employees inside make you wait in the sun, yes, the tropical sun.

It is outrageous that the store’s online customers must suffer these and other obscene indignities, which force them to have to type an incredible number of words per minute. If you go on sale days, you are reduced to waiting in a single line for everything, even though refilling the card is a simpler and quicker transaction than the tell-me-your-life-story process required for a telephone service contract.

This summer pentagram coincided with the school vacations.  Wherever one went everything was full, and that cyber place could not be an exception.  One resting his rear in front of his computer somewhat tired and frustrated by the wait and also from having to endure the heat and the network administrator disabling the right click, making it impossible to “copy and paste.”  That is to say, that although one brings a post previously written, you have to transcribe it onto their machines and consume more connection time.  The speed is that of the oxcart, maybe because of the incapacity of the computer or the spy programs that they install on the server to monitor what the users do and write.

This September I returned and everything continues more or less the same.  As far as what individuals may have at home, no one loses hope in spite of the blockade on computers and information — among many others — by the Cuban authorities. Never mind, it seems we still have to “tiptoe” to navigate barefoot on the hot asphalt of a dictatorship with an exhausted political discourse, but that still keeps an iron grip on many aspects of national life.

*Translator’s note: A play on words; in Spanish “the key of sun” is “treble clef.”

 Translated by mlk

24 September 2013