Getting bottled water in Cuba, another achievement only within the reach of the fastest

Getting bottled water in Cuba, another achievement only within the reach of the fastest

Under the almost 30 degrees that the thermometer marked in Havana this Monday, cloudy and humid, in which the queues and crowds in public transport have not sentthe moment bottled water was “taken out” in the Plaza de Carlos III was like glimpsing an oasis in the desert.

The sighting, however, soon turned into a mirage. At the Buon Piacere pizzeria, the product only lasted a few minutes. At the Esquina Roja kiosk, the second place that put on sale packages of six and a half liter bottles – at 17.50 pesos each bottle and 105 for the entire package -, most of the people who queued to buy ran out of water.

The bottles, from the Ciego Montero Mineral Water Bottling Plant, not only have a value for their content, but once empty, they become the preferred container for sellers of milk and yogurt in the informal market. A double attraction that triggers the demand for the product, in a country where containers of any kind are also scarce.

Private businesses and houses that they rent to tourists depend mainly on bottled water. In homes, things are different, since many families take it from the one that comes through the pipe, or –the most cautious– they boil or filter it so as not to spend money in the markets. However, people with some medical conditions depend on the higher quality product that is sold in state stores.

From the queue, this newspaper was able to verify that numerous people left the establishment’s counter loaded with six-bottle blister packs. A police officer was trying to make sure people didn’t buy twice, but it was an impossible task.

A young man who was waiting bragged with another that he came “with 26 more.” “They are the same ones who then resell the knobs at 70 and 90 pesos. Can you believe that?” protested a woman, who said out loud that she came from El Vedado, after spending an hour and a half in the open waiting for a bus. and sweating in transport, not even reaching for a bottle. “That there is no water for everyone is another level of misery.”

After forty-five minutes of waiting, when the woman had 15 customers left, the water ran out.

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