Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Day Abroad

Photo: Leandro Feal
She arrived in Cuba at the end of the seventies in love with the Revolution. She married a general and settled in the island paradise to make her dreams come true. She always rubbed elbows with the higher-ups, the so-called Nomenklatura, and spent the last thirty years as if she were a princess. Perestroika, Glasnost, the fall of the Berlin Wall and later the collapse of the Socialist block came to her like echoes from distant Europe, which she had wisely left behind.  From her house in Siboney she heard the litany of the Special Period, but when she drove her Lada down Fifth Avenue things didn’t look so bad. Though the electricity often went out she bought a generator and, as always, her husband supplied the home bodega with imported products. The same as always.

She made some women friends, almost all from the Communist Party. But by the beginning of the new century few remained in Cuba and all had given up their political posts and the Party. Politics had never been a topic of interest among them, rather food, creams, the beach and the good life. Gradually the shortages invaded their conversations: Who cared about the blue sea and the white beaches of Varadero if there wasn’t even an egg to put on the table? This animal of discord, this political beast, wouldn’t leave her alone.

One day she decided to give her friends a special day: the beach, a restaurant, a hotel. They left early in the morning and returned late at night. When they got out of the car one of them said with satisfaction, “Thanks for this marvelous day abroad!” It was the last time they saw each other.