b'Canadians Abroad fruit market. On nearing the market,Our son recently arrived laden withamazing restaurants in Havana.It is (continued from page 21) various people will approach and, inspices, peanut butter, a small blendera reminder of the privilege we have First of all, lets just talk about thea clandestine fashion, ask, Huevos?for smoothies and a ridiculous amountas Canadians to live in a country of trip to the four or five grocery storesPapas?Theyaresellingeggsandof Halloween chocolate.If we cannotplenty,wherewecandrivetothe we frequent on an average trip. Wepotatoes on the black market and thisfind chicken, mangoes or milk we cansupermarket with a list and find eve-get to the stores on foot and, as youtransaction is anything but secretive.elect to go out for a meal for some vari- rything. It seems so basic, but from our know, it is hot and humid in CubaThe vender will tell us to wait andety as we have the financial resources.new Cuban perspective, it is a wonder.- the kind of heat when you can bereturns with our eggs and potatoesTheaverageCubanmakes$20per standingstillandthesweatdripswith little discretion or secrecy.Oncemonth,whichcertainlydoesnotal- By Marg Snider-McGrath, down your back and legs.Walking,thatpurchaseismade,weenterlow for enjoyment at the multitude ofSpecial to Focus on Scugogwe soon learned, requires the sharp- the open-air market where a sea of ness of all our senses as street signscolourfulveggiesandfruitsareon areonrockscurbside,sidewalksdisplay.The challenge here is using arecrumblingandpot-holed,andthe local CUP money, which Cubans pedestrians do not have the right ofuse, as opposed to the CUC currency way.Fortunately, in Miramar, whereAn agro, or as we would call it, a fruit andLearning to stock up, as its here today andusedbyforeigners.Itisafrenetic we live, the leafy avenue known asvegetable market. gone for weeks or even months. paceofactivityinthemarketand, Quinta has a broad pedestrian zonepastime) we can often find milk.AtWhen a shipment comes in, wordmaking calculations in our head be-which offers a sense of safety fromfirst,wewouldbuyoneortwoofspreadsquicklythatavaluedortween the currencies while listening road hazards and a perfect view ofan item, but we quickly learned thathard-to-finditemhasarrived.RoryintentlytotherapidSpanishbeing theoftenjaw-droppingmansionsthat is not how to shop in Havana.was shopping a few weeks ago wheredirected at us, combine to evoke one and embassies that line the avenue.ACubancolleagueexplainedthatthey had frozen chicken breasts afterof those culture shock moments.Our En route, it is not uncommon here toin Cuba we buy what we see.Noa drought for a few weeks.He stoodsenses are on overload and it can be stop a fellow grocery shopper to asksensecreatingalistas,morethanin line for an hour and a half to pur- overwhelming.But despite these epi-at which store they bought the loaf oflikely, most items wont be available.chase his two meagre bags of chicken,sodes of discomfort, we find Cubans bread peaking over the top of theirWe have become accustomed to see- already partially thawed by the timeto be patient, understanding and fair bag, or the mangoes that are weigh- ing, at one of the larger stores, onehe paid.By Canadian standards thisin their dealings. ing them down. Their valuable infor- aisle completely filled with cookingsounds crazy, but it is what you doAs I write, I am well aware of the mation will determine our strategicoil,thenextwithjustmayonnaise,here as you have no idea when thatprivilege of my position as an expat.Marg and Rorys dog Braxton enjoying the Cuban life too!plan to hit as many stores as possible. the next with beer.On occasion weitem will be in the stores again. Lining So,offwegowithourDurhammight see some jars of olives, bottledup is a way of life here.Cubans are College and Walmart cloth shoppingwater or whole wheat bread - thatsstoicandpatient.Whenyoujoin bags we brought from home (why, ohwhenwevelearnedtogobiganda line, you ask the person who ap-why, didnt we bring more!).Rorybuy whatever we can carry becausepears to be last in line, La ultima? and I created nicknames to help uswe might not see it again for a fewwhich means Are you the last? This remember the various stores.At theweeks or even months. We laughedconfirms your place in the line, and BodegaNeartheSchoolwecanthe other day when, as we were walk- everyone, for the most part, respects usuallyfindyogurt,attheCircleing down the street with a 24-pack ofthis unwritten rule.If someone tries Storewecanusuallyfindsomebeer and two jugs of water, someoneto make a move, other people in line freshlybakedbread,andatFirststopped and asked us where we gotare quick to set the culprit straight.Queue Store (the store where I firstthe water, not the beer.Bottled waterEvery Saturday morning, our des-had to line up in Cubaa nationalis often a rarity and coveted by all. tination is an agro - a vegetable and For me, it is just so Cuban to see fishing at the Malecon (sea wall) and skateboarding every day, says Marg.22 FOCUS - DECEMBER 2019'