SEPTEMBER 8th, 2014
One of the things I love about this country is it’s ability to fix things. Not a visit goes by without someone fixing something for me and it never ceases to amaze me.
The first time we were in Trindad, which is a beautiful small town in Sancti Spiritu. There is a walk you can do from the town up into the hills. It’s a good couple of hours but the reward is a fresh water pool and waterfall where everyone goes to dive and swim. The water is cold and delicious.
That day we’d packed rice, sandwiches and a bottle of rum. We sat in the water eating and drinking with our Cuban friends. On the descent back into town, sunned, slightly drunk and refreshed my friend’s sandal broke. They were her favourite, she loved them and wore them everywhere. It was a bit of a problem because we still had quite far to walk and she couldn’t really walk barefoot. Secondly, she really did love those shoes. We sat on the grass feeling a bit grumpy when one of our Cuban companions returned with a small piece of string and an old rusty nail that he’d found in the grass. He set about repairing her shoes. Once finished you couldn’t even see that they’d been repaired. He is a builder by trade. I am still amazed to this day. She still has those shoes.
Since then I’ve encountered this over and over again. I’ve rolled into several towns in a hire car to have the engine die, leaving us in the middle of the road. Within seconds a hand has opened the bonnet, located the problem, fixed it and sent us on our way.
I’ve got three pairs of shoes that have been whisked off to be repaired without so much as a blink of an eye. Once by a taxi man who saw me hobbling along the street with a broken sandal and stopped to help.
Pans break, handles fall off, springs go, supports pop, doors rot. But it’s never a problem that can’t be solved with something they find or by a neighbour. Worst case scenario it’ll be used for parts to fix something else.
I can’t tell you how much I love this trait. It’s in the fabric of their very being. The uncle who is a farmer and can fix a car, build a house, chop a tree and mend a shoe. The neighbour who works in the bank who can lay concrete, plaster your house or tell you if your child has stomach ache. The cousin who makes games for a living who also sews, rears pigs and chickens, cooks and can make you a shelf using a bit of plastic, a piece of wire and a nail. The woman on the corner who can cut and die you hair, works as a cleaner but trained as a vet. Her neighbour who can paint your nails. Her husband can fix your electronics and put movies on a disc or memory stick for you. And if no one here can do it you can be sure they know someone two doors away that can.
It’s taught. It’s learnt. In our house we call it inventando. Inventing. As much as I love it, they hate it.