Right now, as I am writing this, I am waiting for a reply from my Sunwing rep about booking my April 2012 group trip to Club Amigo Marea del Portillo.
I don't want to use the phone, lest she call back. I don't want to stray too far from the computer, lest she email. So, I decided to occupy my time by catching up on a little online reading, starting with my favorite news blog, Havana Times. Front and center on the home page today is a piece entitled: "Weighing in on Toilet Paper in Cuba" by Maria Matienzo Puerto, whose down-to-earth writing I particularly enjoy.
It's funny that this piece has caught my eye because the "for Cuba" shelves in my laundry room have a heap of toilet paper, ready to pack for the April trip! It was on sale, so I stocked up. A few days ago, my hubby, Mr. Patient, asked me, "Are you really taking all that toilet paper to Cuba?"
"Yes," I said, nodding firmly. I could see he was struggling not to roll his eyes, so I quickly explained: "Toilet paper is light and bulky. My luggage is usually overweight because of all the stuff I take to give away. I figured the TP would balance things out, so I wouldn't be dinged with an overweight luggage fee at the airport, yet again. This is a cost-effective step in my travel evolution."
Mr. P. liked that answer, from the Canadian cost-analysis perspective, but I could tell he was still skeptical of the value, as perceived by the prospective recipients of these proposed gifts. Therefore, I went on to tell that I'd noticed homes did not always have what many women consider a necessity when we go "wee-wee," let alone producing "number 2." In the place of toilet paper, there may be other paper products, such as an old magazine or a child's coloring book (the latter is softer). It all depends on what is available to the household; if nothing is available, nothing is available.
Whenever I travel in Cuba, I make a habit of keeping small wads of TP in my pockets, purse and backpack, and I always advise the same for people who are part of my groups – particularly the women. And, when appropriate, I leave some of my stash behind, so the next gal to settle in for a pee (or whatever), will not be caught short.
So, I was very glad to see that my observation about the need for more TP in Cuba was corrobated today by Maria's HT piece. It's a shame that what many women consider a necessity is now a luxury for Cuban women, as she notes. I was shocked to learn that TP prices have shot up so much that it now costs 30% of her wages which, I am guessing, are average. If Maria lived closer to where I will be visiting in April, I would gladly give her a few rolls! Maybe one day....
Meanwhile, I hope she knows she has something more valuable than TP from me; she has my respect. Okay, you can't wipe your "toto" with it, I know, but respect has a certain intrinsic value, even if it's not particularly useful. Right?
This blog's title means "Cuban-hearted woman" (very loosely translated!). I settled on this name because it had a nice ring to my unschooled ear and, more importantly, because I think the Cuban people seem to have so much heart, and they're in my heart for that reason. In general, the people I've met in Cuba are quite consistently open-hearted and big-hearted in the way they relate to each other or to visitors in their beautiful land. A piece of my heart now resides in Cuba, with the warm, wonderful friends I've made there. This blog is not intended to be a guide to Cuba, just a forum for my eclectic bits of writing – poetry, opinion pieces and information gleaned from my personal experience and reading.