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Cuban Parting Thoughts

Actually I didn't really describe the market yesterday and should. First one needs to know a little about the ordinary shopping arrangements. All locals get a ration card. On it are basics. Really. Basics. Rice, beans, eggs (5 per person per month} milk powder (if one is a child, pregnant, ill or elderly} and one or two other things. These products are at well below market price but have to be bought from a specific government shop close to ones home. People are now free to set up shops to sell what they have or can. If one wants to enter the agricultural sector 80 percent of the produce has to go to the government. At below market price which, oddly, puts people off a little, consequently, although the island is largely fertile, it's also largely fallow. There is a third type of shop, which one can only pay for stuff in with credit cards backed by foreign currency. Locals can use these but have to find dollars or euros and put them into accounts with a credit or de{bit card. Presumably it is to try to allow the. Government some access to the de facto large black economy which operates in hard currencies. These card shops are still largely run by the government so are not like waitrose or the co op. They Tend to have extremely limited supplies but more than  in the local currency shops.   Often things like beer and rum are more expensive than in the local shops. Exotic stuff like pasta and tins of tomatoes, olives and whatever are on offer. Generally they tend to have similar products on offer so when one finds a new one it tends to be disappointing, i would guess only about a 100 lines including things like washing powder and nappies.

Back to the market. Its where the whole  town   Actually shops because stuff is available. There are numerous traders, from just produce laid out on the ground to trucks selling meat and meat products, kind of haggis like tubes of processed meat,  meat is butchered in the open, mostly pork but goat and beef too, trucks selling slabs of beers, lemonades and so on, there is a lot   hustle and bustle, there is plenty for sale and plenty not available, the most obvious being eggs which appear very rare and valuable. fruit and veg are strictly what is in season. One could make a fortune with a dozen hens if one  could find somewhere to keep them illicitly. I never really got to the bottom of why eggs are such a rare and valuable basic commodity. In any event the market seemed to be a place where everyone does their weekly shop which is a mystery unravelled because before i had found it i couldnt see how people bought enough to live off.  It is also a very social and family occasion. There are also  side stalls operating off generators selling helado which was nice and welcome. Even i, commited socialist that i am, am not convinced that this is the best way to run the economy although, to be fair, there are big bums around a lot so people are not mostly starving.

Meanwhile, back at the marina, the lady who does my dobi( for dollars} was, apparently, ill, however she thougth shed be in at around 1200 and as I now had most of what i thought i needed i checked out with the marina manager and cleared out with the officials, with the laundry arriving during the process. i let go, with some help from a neighbour because  there was a wind blowing me onto the pontoon,  and set off at about 1345.  The wind was SE'ly and about 17 knots and we beat in a slackening and backing wind for the afternoon and evening before sailing close hauled overnight or for some of the night until the wind died at about 0230 when we motored for 3 hours. Dawn saw a breeze pick up from the east and we’re now sailing slowly close hauled again. We are heading,I think, for Puerto Rico, unless i get word  that it may be an issue coming straight from cuba. I have a us j1 visa so believe it should      Be ok, if not ill go to the BVIs. I have emailed a marina in puerto rico but have yet to hear back from them. I am hoping to replace my batteries there as they are not performing well and it should reduce wear on the engine and anxiety aboard.

Its a lovely morning, i had baked beans for breakfast, i had been going to have them with toast, in fact was berating myself for having ditched some bacon fat which would have been an ideal substance for frying some bread in to go with them but found i couldnt open the freezer as it has frozen shut again.I suspect. I’ve allowed the freezer to go off for a bit and when it re froze, when the battery level came up again, the moisture froze on the lid, so in fact no bread was available in addition to no bacon fat. I have about 4 slices of brown bread in the freezer.

Its currently 0815 and the wind has veered to south of east already but we are making about 3 knots in a largely southerly direction which is ok for now.  

Slainte Jock and Yemaya.

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