What Does a Cuban Bring Home in Her Suitcase? / 14ymedio

Nuria's suitcase (14ymedio)
Nuria’s suitcase (14ymedio)

Nuria retired last year and this month she traveled to Miami, where her sisters live. On returning to the Island she showed 14ymedio what she brought home in her suitcase.

Let’s take a look at what she threw in her bags with brief comments from her about why she chose each product.

  • Two bottle of dishwashing soap. “There isn’t any in the spiritual centers and what they do sell here destroys my hands.”
  • Two packages of napkins: “In the snack bars they cut them in two and even in four, making them real onion skins.”
  • A stove lighter: “There aren’t any matches in the stores, and when you find them the heads fall off and burn my clothes.”
  • Two packages of bath soap: “I’ve spent years without washing myself with something soft and creamy, so I just couldn’t resist.”
  • Four pairs of jeans: “They last and I’m not going to pay the price the State charges for them in its boutiques.”
  • A package of coffee: “I know it seems like a crime, but I’m going to mix it with what I get from the ration book and it’ll last me longer.”
  • Two bottles of cologne: “Since Suchel reduced production, it’s something refreshing and fragrant for after the bath which has become a luxury.”
  • A packet of washing detergent: “I have clothes that are a little grimy and I’m going to see if this can restore the colors.”
  • A paper datebook: “The doctor who operated on my cataracts asked me for something to write down her appointments and I can’t go wrong with her.”
  • Four scouring pads: “With the ban on traders [importing such things for resale], mops and sponges have disappeared.”
  • A package of instant glue: “I need it to glue together things that have broken around the house.”
  • A package of candles: “I’m preparing for the blackouts, because every now and then the lights go out.”
  • Ten condoms: “At my age I don’t think you need them, but I brought them for my daughters because they say the ones at the pharmacy are past their expiration date.”
  • A jar of CoffeeMate: “I’m going to invite my friends to have a little coffee with this, to remind us of the old times.”
  • Two towels: “The only one I have I bought a decade ago and there’s so little left of it it doesn’t even dry you.”
  • 20 bouillon cubes: “This fixes a meal, if I don’t have anything to go with the rice I throw in a cube and at least it tastes of something.”
  • Two tubes of tomato concentrate: “I have so many cravings to eat some good spaghetti with real tomatoes, I couldn’t resist.”
  • Five school notebooks: “My granddaughter is starting elementary school in September and the study materials they give them there are poor quality.”
  • A tube of toothpaste: “My prosthesis will be gleaming with this.”
  • Two boxes of Tampax: “My daughters are dying for this, because the sanitary napkins on the ration book are annoying and not very absorbent.
  • A package of disposable plates: “I want for at least one day to have the pleasure to invite someone to eat and not have to scrub the dishes.”
  • Two rolls of toilet paper: “There is none in the stores and the newspaper Granma is printed on rougher and rougher paper, so I wanted to treat myself to something soft but sturdy.”
  • A swimsuit: “You’d think we didn’t live on a tropical island considering the high price of suits in the stores.”
  • A bottle of aspirins: “When I have a headache I prefer some real aspirins, not the kind that when you take them they stick in your throat… like the ones they make in Cuba.”
  • A jar of ointment: “I’m old, I have to have something on hand for sore bones.”
  • A roll of plastic bags: “My sisters laughed because I brought these, but they don’t know how many stores and markets there are that after you buy the merchandise they tell you they don’t have any bags to carry the products.”
  • A blood pressure monitor: “I’m tired of going to the family doctor and finding there’s no one there, because the doctor is on a foreign mission or because the water is off.”
  • Four razors: “So I don’t have to go out looking like a pirate with hair legs.”
  • A bottle of salt: “This isn’t easy to find here and when you can buy it it’s so damn and heavy it will barely pour.”
  • Four incandescent bulbs: “I can’t remember when I had light on the terrace and in the hallway because the energy-saving bulbs aren’t available and when you can find them they cost an arm and a leg.”
  • Some reading glasses: “I bought them in a wholesale market but at least I solved the problem, because in the Miramar opticians they wanted to charge me ten times more for some similar ones.”
  • Powdered onion and garlic: “Onions and garlic are so expensive in the agricultural markets that I can’t buy them.”
  • A small tin of olive oil: “I don’t want to die without experiencing that taste again.”
  • A universal remote control: “The one for my Panda television that they gave me during the energy revolution broke years ago.”
  • A DVD player: “My trip was especially to bring back this, because the truth is that I can’t stand the official programming.”

Nuria has also traveled with a handbag in which she brought personal belongings and some underwear. She’s happy about her “treasures,” so she shuts the suitcase, smiles and goes home to distribute the gifts and enjoy what she brought.