His whole life passed between two Cuban territories: the current province of Artemisa and the city of Havana. But this October, Heberto, his wife and their little daughter will go to another geography. The family will embark on a migration route that will take them from Brazil to the southern border of the United States. “This is what we have solved,” he said, hardly giving importance to the thousands of kilometers that separate the point of entry into South America and the final destination.
“We need one big suitcase and one small one,” he said. “With the big one we go out and take the woman’s things, but it is likely that on the way we have to stay only with the little one because we have to go through complicated places.” A seller of cheese, guava and yogurt, Heberto has been traveling for years from his native Alquízar to the vicinity of the train terminal on Tulipán Street to offer his products. In the same place he closed a deal this week: a large suitcase for a sheep.
“With the big one we go out and take the woman’s things, but it is likely that on the way we have to stay only with the little one because we have to go through complicated places”
“A former client had a suitcase and needed meat, so in a few minutes we fixed it,” he detailed. “Then he told me that if I get him a big, well-cured cheese, he will also give me in exchange one of the carry-on bags that are in the cabin of the plane.” One gets food at a time of inflation and rising costs of primary products, the other gets a good pair of solid suitcases with wheels to help him in his migration efforts.
The neighborhood around the small station lost, however, one of the most frequent merchants. For two decades, Heberto has cultivated a loyal clientele that appreciates his merchandise. His catalog has gone through variations over the years but has never been interrupted “unless during the pandemic,” he clarified. “There was a time when I also dedicated myself to selling milk creams but it is no longer possible because there are few cows in my area.”
“Then the tilapia gave me a lot of business, but that too fell out of favor because the animals in the dams had nothing to feed.” The pig was one of their star products, until “the guajiros of Alquízar sacrificed the pigs because they had no food to give them and the people they raised were for family consumption.” In recent times, he supports his list with some fruits, okra, some Creole rice and the occasional piece of mutton. The same product that this time became suitcases that help him fulfill his dream of “leaving this country as soon as possible.”