When it Rains it Pours / Regina Coyula

After weeks without internet, I have nothing good to say. I’ve been “faking” housewifery. Among my skills, I take care of the plumbing: the shower, the sink and the sink had their Spring and have revolted en masse. I wrote about the faucet (faucet, key, tap, you already know) of my sink two years ago in a post titled My Programmed Obsolescence; and I’m once again struggling with obsolescence.

A cheap new faucet costs 150 Cuban pesos (CUP*), but I found “look-but-don’t-touch” one for 3 CUC* (72 CUP), installed it myself and when it breaks, which undoubtedly will be soon, I’ll see. We have to turn the shower on and off with pliers, and unfortunately the sink drips, but the prices are not for me, neither in CUCs not CUPs. What it takes to maintain a house built almost sixty years defies the imagination of people who don’t live Cuban-style.

Going out to look for the faucet, I took to the streets, and in the street, people are pissed off. Maybe it’s the heat, but verbal violence has become the natural way of communication for many people. To speak ill of the “thing” is normal. Even foreigners who know Cuba fairly well having visited it several times, comment to me about it, because it is so noticeable.

It is true that it’s summer vacation time, but in the Los Sitios neighborhood the number of young people sitting in the doorways or on the edge of the sidewalk killing time, or messing around with I don’t know what, caught my eye. I can not explain the siege at the door of the hardware store where several young men offer you the same thing the shop sells and more.

The beautiful people are traveling by car or in the videoclips, because man, are people ever ugly! Ugly and badly dressed. I’m not talking about the people in rags. The cheap clothes that the savvy traders go to Ecuador to buy (one of the few countries where we don’t need a visa), have contributed to the aesthetic calamity. I don’t buy my clothes in boutiques. I get them at flea markets and, when I am in Spain in Chinatown and at Caritas charity shops, and I’m not embarrassed to admit it. I would be embarrassed to put on the cheap Ecuadorean rags so worthy of reggaeton.

So many days without updating my blog and I appear with this as the second post. It’s the heat that’s affecting me; at least I don’t resort to verbal violence. I prefer to wear my Chinese-Ecuadorian clothes.

*Translator’s note: There are two currencies in Cuba: Cuban pesos, also know as “national money or CUP, worth roughly 24 to the dollar; and Cuban convertible pesos (which are only “convertible” in Cuba), exchanged at 24 to the CUP and nominally worth 1 dollar, although exchange fees add to the cost. Most wages are paid in CUP, but many things are only available for sale in CUC. The monthly wage averages less than $20.

2 August 2013