Today I got up with a sore throat. The guilty party was the impertinent cold wind on the Malecón, to which I exposed myself last night while talking with a friend. We talked for an hour – thinking we were fixing the world and the Island – without realizing that the temperature was falling. That’s why this morning I woke up with a cold and my whole body asking for a hot lemon tea.
With that imperative I went to the closest agricultural market and asked for the green citrus of my cravings. One of the vendors told me: “Lemons are gone. You better buy a guava.” I didn’t let him convince me and continued with my whim of a warm lemon with a hint of black tea. I then walked towards Old Havana and in passing through several markets I realized that they didn’t have what I was looking for either. My throat was hurting even more and at that point I had to rethink if would be better to take a Vitamin C pill; but since my stubbornness is genetic, I insisted on searching for the missing fruit.
Close to two in the afternoon I gave up. Though barely able to swallow because of the burning in my throat, that was nothing compared to the disgust provoked in me by the “disappearance” of the lemons. This useless “search and seizure” has generated an ill feeling more long lasting than the cold. It has left me with some hard questions: How is it that with so much fertile land and so many people who desire to produce, market and sell, they can’t get together and produce an abundant supply of lemons in the market? Why is it that Marabú* is still the “king of the Cuban countryside” (go on a road trip on the highway to Pinar del Rio and you’ll see), while oranges and tangerines, not to mention grapefruit, end up in the inventory of the exotic? When will the land belong to those who will make it produce and not to a State that underutilizes its abandoned parcels? Do I keep hoping, or forget about the flavor of lemons?
Marabú = An invasive weed.