Friday, August 22, 2014

Chimeras and Frustrations

Chimeras and Frustrations / 14ymedio, Luzbely Escobar
Posted on August 22, 2014

14YMEDIO, Havana, Luzbely Escobar, 21 August 2014 – It is a little more
than a week before the start of school and the youngest at home are
already taking stock of what they've done on their vacation. They go to
sleep thinking about what they'll tell their friends in September and in
their little heads they remember each outing with their families.
Although parents have few options to entertain their children in the
summer, they always make an effort.

The options range from five pesos to buy an ice cream cone at the corner
snack bar, to the complicated and greatly desired trip to the beach.
I've made many promises to my little ones to take them for a dip, but I
still haven't been able to keep my promise. A trip to Santa Maria or
Guanabo is like the children's Road to El Dorado during the summer season.

A trip to the beach is a chimera. The main difficultly rests in the long
lines for the bus, with its riots of boys who push in front of everyone
because they don't like to wait that long. Coming home, as if it weren't
hard enough to catch the route 400, we add the drunkenness and fights
that break out in front of the innocent eyes of the children. Not to
mention the abundant stream of bad words and atrocities shouted with a
natural mastery from one end of the bus to the other.

As an alternative to the beach, the other day we inflated a plastic pool
in the basement and poured in a few buckets of water. They had a good
time, after the frustration of the breakdown of the transport that would
take us to Marazul—coming and going guaranteed—but in the end it left us
with swimsuits packed and snacks prepared.

To go to the beach there are other variants such as the
almendrones—classic American cars—that cost one convertible peso* (CUC)
each but don't guarantee the return. At one time we could take advantage
of the buses that run on the tourist routes, at least for a visit,
because they cost 3 CUC each coming and going and the children didn't
have to pay. However, now they've gone up to 5 CUC, which is too
expensive for ordinary mortals.

Other options, which we have done, are going to the movies, the theater,
the usual family visits and games in the park below. But that quickly
bores them and they want more. They are tireless in their requests for
the Aquarium, the beach, the pool, the zoo, and the Maestranza Fun Park
in Old Havana. We decided we weren't going to the last one any more.
It's too much suffering under the sun and closes at the best time, when
it starts to get dark.

If we went to the Zoo twice it's because it's close, although it already
has a super-well-known terrible reputation. We can go to the Aquarium at
night, but sadly, that's when transport in that area of Havana is more
complicated than in the daytime, and so we haven't had an opportunity to
go. In short, if we add up the possible choices, there are few real
possibilities of entertaining children.

There are still about ten days of vacation but I don't think we'll do
much more. Now we're focused on uniforms, backpacks, shoes, snacks,
notebooks, pencils and everything that makes up the school package.
Luckily they've already forgotten the chimerical holiday and have
replaced it with school. We still have the task of making sure there's
no lack of teacher for the classroom, as happened in the last semester
of the previous school year. That would be too much frustration.

*Translator's note: The average monthly wage in Cuba is around 20 CUC.
One CUC is about 24 Cuban pesos (about one dollar US).

Source: Chimeras and Frustrations / 14ymedio, Luzbely Escobar |
Translating Cuba -

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