On Saturday morning I get a text message from a girlfriend, “Claudia, I’ve refilled your phone.” The way the service operates, I should expect another text message from the Cuban company. It finally arrived at 9 AM Monday, and said the following:
“From RECARGA1: Call (7) 204 31 45 between 8 AM and 5 PM from a land line to confirm data regarding a refill received through the Internet. If there are problems with the payment, the service will be canceled.”
Can someone please explain the second sentence to me?
After nearly an hour calling without being put through to the telephone indicated on my cell, a girl answers at the other end of the line, sounding as far away as if she had said, “Hello,” from China. She asks me my number, asks who paid the money, and I tell her the name of my girlfriend. She says it had been a man, and I can’t collect until I have the details of the person who made the transfer.
I complain, on the web page where the service is promoted it doesn’t indicate this fundamental detail. With the apathy characteristic of a Cuban receptionist, she says, “Your suggestion has been noted.” And in passing, she asks for my identity card number.
It turns out I’ve received two refills on my cell phone: the first, that of my girlfriend, they never warned me about; on the second – surely some reader supporting this blog – I can’t collect a single centavo. And so it goes in technological Cuba…
Note: When later I logged onto the Internet I could not enter the site to refill cell phones, with the strange justification: Forbidden. You do not have permission to access this server. But because I am stubborn, I went in through a proxy to verify that nowhere is it stated that the user must inform the Cuban that a refill has been made to their phone.
The most secure way to refill cell phones is TuRecarga.
This is an excerpt to a version of the song, Epitaph for Vladimir Visotski by Karsmarski Jacek (Polish dissident songwriter), which includes Ciro Diaz in his latest album, The Blue Slug, that I listened to compulsively for at least two months, especially on the street with my mp3 inherited from a friend who now has an I-pod. (Download the lyrics here) (Download the recording and album cover here) The song (in summary, which runs about ten minutes) is about a desperate artist going through the circles of hell in search of an answer or death, and at the end of his journey there is only loneliness and the weight of the supreme power above himself. So I found myself at times catching the bus across Havana at 12 noon in August under the perennial sunshine and with the distressing feeling of not going anywhere, or arriving too late, or going for pleasure ... I feel that I have already arrived at the eighth enclosure (this is the finale of the song) where there is nothing, and I feel useless and empty, and I look at people without faith who walk along the street and who have so much fear that they no longer know they're afraid, and who have seen so many Roundtables and so many news broadcasts that they no longer know what belongs to reality or just to the TV screen. They cannot discern that they no longer believe, but cannot disbelieve either, and just move along past me not going anywhere.