You will never feel the pressure of there being too much, in a place where there is so little of everything that you don’t have much fabric to cut. Oh well, as is the custom and reality in Cuba, one has to undress one saint to dress another.
Shopping in Cuba doesn’t have to be the most stressful thing in the world – if you keep in mind what you are looking for and so long as you have a budget for it. You are only going to have a small number of options for each product. So if you are looking for a bar of soap, you are not going to find a range of offers and prices, as you would in most supermarkets in the rest of the world, which can even cause headaches due to the mix of colors, brands and quality to the point where many times you don’t even end up buying what you were originally looking for.
The well-stocked products in Cuba are the ones that people without deep pockets cannot afford or those that have spent so much time on display that they have lost their quality, look discolored, or can even tear while you are trying it on, in the case of clothing. You will never feel the pressure of there being too much, in a place where there is so little of everything that you don’t have much fabric to cut. Oh well, as is the custom and reality in Cuba, one has to undress one saint to dress another. So it is with the new opening, there is nothing successful coming out of the cuatro caminos (four roads in Spanish) market in Havana. The other stores, which had previously been well-known for the wide variety of products on offer, are empty. The spectacle of finding their shop windows full of dust and seeing the vendors hanging on their phones confident that no customers are going to turn up, depresses you, as there is no option of buying and selling.
While it may seem incredible to us that in first world countries you can hear people complaining about the great variety, because this does happen in markets where there are thousands of paths to take. You find yourself faced with the dilemma of what to buy and whether it is really necessary both in terms of etiquette and squandering money, whether the creative offers are gaffes or nauseating, each one with a better presentation. This has already caused chronic stress within the consumerist citadel. Meanwhile, the Cubans are continuing along the path with the unilateral offer of only four roads, without even being sure which one to take.