Today I am showing you the oldest neon sign in my Central Havana neighborhood.  With its red letters, the ad invites you to have a cup of Pilón coffee, although at this location they now offer only tepid dishwater from an undefined powder.

Incredibly, the structure has survived children’s rocks and the state’s intention to sweep away all the brands that remind us of the past.  This “fossil” still hangs in Galiano Street, though its interior light has failed to illuminate the small sign for years and underneath it you can no longer drink coffee made without chickpeas.

9 thoughts on “Survival

  1. I did read the last reflection of Castro, published in Granma (The officila Government News Paper), where the tyrant ended using Juarez’s phrase ” Respect the right of the others is peace”!!!!!,,,,wao,,,,!!!!!!!!.

    The main and largest living human being who violated any kind of right, that Cuba’s history has known, telling that phrase!!!!!!!!it is incredible!!!

    At least I will finish saying that once again Castro is telling lies, because the cruel one, the human right violator, the dictator, the assassin, etc, is only one,,,and it is him,,,nobody else.


  2. Mushba
    here is the goverment doing those things !
    Maybe Yoani should write also about the soya products the goverment
    also sell to the people!
    When I visited I wanted my uncle to buy some of this things because
    I wanted to see how bad it was. I can only tell you I try a small tea spoon
    and I almost vomit myself. I wanted to do that because they did not sell those things
    when I used to live in Cuba. I had heard about it. It was quite famous.

    This Goes to show how much the goverment care for the people of Cuba!

    They are trying to cut cost and I am sure the top ruling class never have
    drink this adulterated coffee or the soya products I am talking about.

  3. Here,people are fussy.Some have milk delievered to them via milk-men on motorbike’s , while some buy carten milk.At a time people use to complain that the there was’nt enough shine in the milk,and that not enough Mil-ha-ee,the stuff that rise’s to the surface when you boil the milk;now,people complain that the milk-men’s source is not safe;for people know that they give their banh’s,or yak’s,which are inferior to cow’s from the quality of milk,to their appearance.
    It’s the same with Roti,or thortia’s;people complained that it did’nt poof up enough, so the tandoor-wala’s(tandoor being where the public buy’s roti,tandoor wala the maker and seller),started adding baking soda & salt.
    So,this remind’s me of how people are sneaky,and how we the public encourage to be sneaky.

  4. Julio’s explanation is correct, but, in synthesis, the main reason to do that, was to increase the volume of the mix, then, the “new type of mixed ground coffee” could last more.

    I remember another “strategy” to extend- even more- the amount of coffee that each Cuban have on his weekly ration.

    A classic Italian coffee maker, has three parts:

    The Bottom, which contains the water and will receive the heat directly from the gas or kerosene range.

    The Deposit (the cone with small holes to let the steam pass) which contains the ground coffee.This deposit is located between the top and the bottom, but, inside of both parts.

    The Top, threaded to the Bottom, where, after boiling water, the steam rises and it’s mixed with the coffee, obtaining the flavorful infusion.

    To be able to get the same kind of steam pressure inside of the Deposit, where the ground coffee is, but, trying to use less amount of it (coffee), the Cubans are adding to this “mixed ground coffee”, several “small crystal balls” (those crystal balls that the kids use to play).

    Those crystal balls are able to replace the volumetric part of the ground coffee , then, the steam pressure still works as it should be, then, you can get “still” a good coffee.

    If you are a very good friend of the family, may be yo can taste a cup of coffee that was done with 3 crystal balls,,,if you are just a visitor, your cup of coffee was done with 5 crystal balls, and if you are someone that was invited for a cup of coffee just by mandatory reasons,,,your cup was done with 10 crystal balls!!!!!!!!

    I remember, when I was a kid, around the 60’s, that still Havana City was totally full of lighting signs, but step by step all of them were disappearing, the reasons?,,,The Government took care of those particulars business!!!!, then, after short time the maintenance that was an important part of the owner to keep the business alive, was gone!!!!,,,because who cares?,,,now the Government is the owner!!!!.

    I remember that the fatal shooting was done after the speech done by Castro on March 13, 1967 when he launched his slogan ” We must march in revolutionary offensive”!!!,,,,then the following day, all kind of particular business were closed and the Government took care of them,,,,business such as:Laundry, bakery, guaraperas ( the place where you can drink the sugar cane juice),photographers, hairdressers, cafeterias, etc, etc,,,,,everything,,,everything,,,,without exception was take it by Castro, his Revolution and his mafia gang!!!!.

    I remember for example, that just a few signs, that by the way, were almost “unbreakable” were able to survive Castro’s destruction, such as the sign of “Bank of Nova Scotia” that was engraved in marble in the side walk of Galiano Street at the entrance of the bank, then, to break it , he was supposed to break the all side walk,,,,anyway, after short time, nobody was paying attention to that, because the new bank was a Government bank, then, not too many peoples were going frequently to the bank,,,,and finally the sign was there witnessing the slow walk of the people passing by the street with their heads down, without hope and waiting for a better world!!!!


    ON POST DATED Julio 8th, 2009 at 04:57

    SUPRISING ARTICLE FROM LEFT OF CENTER NY TIMES !!I wonder what Fidel (if he is really alive) will say about President Óscar Arias of Costa Rica, a Nobel Peace Prize winner who is mediating this situation in Honduras!!

    REUTERS:Fidel Castro says Honduras talks a US stall tactic

    HAVANA, July 16 (Reuters) – Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro said the United States is backing the coup leaders in Honduras and that the U.S.-backed peace talks in Costa Rica are a ploy to keep them in power.

  6. For those that do not understand Yoani’s reference to chickpeas and coffee here is the story as I remember.

    Cubans do drink a lot of coffee and of course like everything else in Cuba is rationed
    so with the objective of been able to drink something that was very close to coffee some Cuban somewhere invented that mixing toasted chickpeas grain with coffee beans will produce something very similar in flavor to coffee. This invention spread like wild fire between the people!

    Then of course it did not take long for the Cuban government to realized every one was mixing their coffee with chick peas and then guess what happen !!

    The smart government bureaucrats decided to give us the coffee already premix with the chick peas so now if you added more chick peas you will not be drinking coffee at all!

    The reason for the government to do something like that is to save money on coffee and give the less deserving Cubans the adulterated coffee. The real coffee they will only sell for dollars or chavitos!

    So I love to listen to some opinions from our american friends here or anyone else about the government aptitude here that is always trying to outsmart people’s solutions to problems they face!

    So now everywhere they have coffee they don’t really mean real coffee anymore but adulterated coffee with toasted chickpeas!

  7. Graçias! I just got you on twitter…so found this right away.
    Also referred to your wonderful column on how to help all Cubans bloggers.
    Being in CA and no plans to travel there limits some but I will think on it,
    do have some contacts in Florida.

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