Summer 2016, Reasons Not to Leave the House / Rebeca Monzo

If you come to this neighborhood and see the filth, don’t be surprised, sometimes it’s worse!

Rebeca Monzo, 15 July 2016 — This summer is one of the hottest since 1880, according to commentators on the radio.

In addition to the punishing sun and the invasion of dust from the Sahara, in a country with almost no air conditioning, even the few hard currency stores and government offices don’t have AC and they have orders not to install it in order to save electricity, due to the terrible problems happening in the country with the supply of oil from Venezuela.

The few buses that are circulating on our streets are hugely overcrowded and “fly past” the official stops, where sweaty and disgruntled people accumulate, and where waiting an hour or more has become normal.

It is true that there is an extensive program of government-run summer recreation for kids, young people and adults, in museums and government facilities, and that all of them, indeed, are linked by government mandate to the 90th birthday of the ancient leader.

The streets are filthy, filled with potholes and sewage, the recreation facilities and movie theaters don’t have air conditioning, there is a great shortage in the supply of soft drinks, mineral water, beer, ice cream and other “goodies” in the misnamed national currency (the Cuban pesos or CUP), since most of these products, when you can find them, are sold in hard currency (Cuban convertible peso, or CUC), making them even more difficult for the majority of the population to access.

Staying home in front of the television with a fan at your side, drinking boiled water every now and then, is the other option, as long as you can watch movies and TV shows obtained on the private market [i.e. the “weekly packet“] because at least these are not “contaminated” with the repetitive and constant celebration of the 90th birthday of the “Cimarrón Mayor,” as a cultural leader recently called Fidel Castro on TV, trying perhaps to flatter him, without properly assessing the meaning of the adjective: the cimarrones were escaped slaves who abandoned their plantations and were always fleeing to hide in the mountains.