Monday, July 28, 2008

Got Water?

In last year's July 26th speech, Raul Castro went off on a tangent about milk, a digression the mainstream media managed to miss, maybe it's a language thing. But since almost universally, Cubans quoted in the media have complained that they have not gotten their glass of milk, this year he seems to have lowered his sights.

This year's wonky wending was all about...water. The aqueduct in Santiago should be finished in 2010, about the time Cubans get toasters. Then there are the 15.6 miles of water pipes, the 231.2 miles of major water networks, and the 390.6 miles of secondary water networks. Just some of the scintillating oratory. Get my drift? But lest ordinary Cubans get carried away consuming and splashing about in the as yet fictional water, they were warned they will have to conserve and not hog up all.


Angel Garzón said...

Oh boy!!! the communists have been talking about this for decades, I remember when we began to adjust to not having water flowing from our faucets, the shower head or the bath tub, I remember my father showing up at home with a huge ceramic "wonder gadget" (moniker mine) that weighed a ton to me as I was about five or six years old at the time, he placed it on our kitchen counter and proceeded to show my mom and me how it would work, he inserted a couple of marvelously looking pumice like cylinders inside of it where the pre-made receptacles were and told us that those were charcoal filters, he allowed me to pour water into the gadget (a water filtration wonder of simplicity) and told us that we would have to wait about a couple of days before we could drink any water from it, as it was brand new and its filters had to be broken-in, in the meantime we could use its water for the patio plants or to "trapiar" (mop) the floors.

Fortunately for us, we lived in a duplex that had four water tanks on the roof, two for each side of the duplex, back then it was customary to have the tanks automatically refilled by the float system that they all had, but this would not work without flowing waters from the municipal water supply, according to the wonder system that the communists turned into the norm we would get water only once a week, so any time a thunder storm would be developing I was entrusted with climbing to the roof and taking the lids off the tanks in order to scoop as much rain water as possible, it was a great morale booster and a wonderful adventure that I would be responsible for "getting the water" and while it made part of my days, it was a harbinger of things to come, all of this was back in the early 1960s, yet the "proletariat's paradise" that wasted billions of Soviet subsidy dollars exporting revolutions and fighting proxy wars in distant countries and continents, has not yet managed to repair my hometown's aqueduct, something that always worked before the communists managed to mismanage it, along with just about everything else in a once prosperous first world nation known as Cuba.

rsnlk said...

Having never known anything but on demand tap water, your experience makes my hair stand on end.

Angel Garzón said...

Ruth, we never truly value what we take for granted until we lose it. Who in his right mind would have thought that our Cuba was going to regress to the point at which it stands now?

Most of the homes that had the roof water tanks did not require water heaters, the sun used to do the job, my maternal grandmother's house did not have tanks, it had a small water heater but it was hardly ever used because the shower water was not too cold. I imagine that with the lack of materials and maintenance most of those water tanks may have been taken down, the roofs can't hold the weight if they are in disrepair.

We use to get fish from a Chinese man that had emigrated to our island in the early fifties, the poor fellow and his family had managed to escape Maoist Stalinism, only to wind up trapped in another communist hell hole, he used to get the most beautiful sword fish steaks that I have ever seen, my mom used to buy them from him once a week, besides from the usual Pargo (red snapper) and camaroncitos (baby shrimp) which she used to cook either in the Paella dish or arroz con camarones (rice with shrimp,) he used to say "comunimo aplieta cinto, mucha hambre" (communism requires tightening of the belt, much hunger,) eventually he was able to leave for Taiwan via Costa Rica and we never heard from him and his family again, as you know Cubans are not allowed to fish and unless they work at the tourist hotels or go dumpster diving (busos) or prostitute themselves (jineteras & jineteros) they cannot eat fish, never mind shell fish, that is reserved for the useful idiots of the West that visit Cuba and support the tyranny

The lessons that I have learned from my years in Cuba have taught me to never take anything for granted, most of us exiles are like that, regular folks cannot understand it for they have never experienced what we have, perhaps only the homeless could have a clear notion of what it feels like to lose everything you once had and took for granted.