Bicycles

Twenty years ago our streets began to fill with bicycles and empty of cars. It wasn’t in fashion to protect the environment, nor to get exercise, rather it was the direct result of the end of the Soviet subsidy. The preferentially priced oil supplies from the East were interrupted, public transport collapsed and my father lost his job as a train mechanic. In those days, getting to work could take the equivalent of half a day and we frequently traveled hanging out of the doors of the bus, like bunches of human grapes.

Then the successive shipments of bicycles from the land of Deng Xiaoping arrived, and were distributed among the outstanding workers and vanguard students. Now the reward for a meritorious task or for unconditional ideology was no longer a trip to East Germany or the delivery of the latest model Russian Lada, but rather a shiny Forever brand bicycle.  Parking lots where the light vehicles were protected from thieves sprang up everywhere and my father opened a workshop to repair punctures. Innovations also appeared with the addition of baby seats, trailers and front baskets. Even women of an advanced age, reluctant to show off their legs while they worked the pedals, ended up adapting themselves to the rhythm of the times.

With the dollarization of the economy high level officials, artists and foreign residents were permitted to import their own cars, while tourists could rent a Peugeot or Citröen. So the streets experienced once again the steady rolling of tires. The number of bicycles dwindled because ships full of them no longer arrived, spare parts became scarce, and Cubans got tired of pedaling everywhere. A slight improvement in the bus service has led many to get rid of their rolling comrade, as if by this gesture they could rid themselves of the crisis.

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10 thoughts on “Bicycles

  1. Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, what we have is NOW. Why not stay in the present and simply concentrate on what you can do to make it better. Stop whining about what is past and focus on a better present. No person anywhere is living in bliss, no country is utopia. Try to reinforce your country’s strengths. Your country is a beautiful land with beautiful people! Use your energy positively, negativity is draining and pointless.

  2. Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, what we have is NOW. Why not stay in the present and simply concentrate on what you can do to make it better. Stop whining about what is past and focus on a better present. No person anywhere is living in bliss, no country is utopia. Try to reinforce your country’s strengths. It is a beautiful land with beautiful people! Use your energy positively, negativity is draining and pointless.

  3. This post is touching. It tells a story of fatigue, silent battle, adaptation, and dreams. When you wrote about womean of an advanced age, reluctant to show off their legs, I got a strong image of past word here in Italy.
    Your conclusion is perfect:
    “A slight improvement in the bus service has led many to get rid of their rolling comrade, as if by this gesture they could rid themselves of the crisis.”

  4. … -“He who gives his life to serve a great idea is admirable, he who avails himself of a great idea to serve his personal hopes of glory and power is abominable, even if he too risks his life…”-
    … -” Liberty is the right of every man to be honest, to think and to speak without hypocrisy …”-

    JOSE MARTI

  5. 1)
    -“There is only one kind of person who is more vile and despicable than a demagogue: a person who accuses those who calmly and honestly seek justice of being demagogues.”-
    2)
    -“All unchecked power exercised over a long time degenerates into a caste system.
    With castes come vested interests, high positions, fear of losing them, intrigues to sustain them.
    Castes search each other out and rub shoulders with each other.

    JOSE MARTI

  6. -” but no social regime can depend on torture and crime to remain indefinitely in power.
    Historically these goverment methods ara anachronisms which sooner or later will be swept out by our people”-
    fidel castro
    plaza de la rebolution 1/29/1974 …

  7. -“All criticism is oposition. All oposition is counter-rebolutionary”
    1992 by “el magnifico” (in his own mind)
    It is all about gestures, they aid the control exerted by the regime … it boils down to such a simple thing as a bicycle … the one the “elite” does no even consider using, looked upon w/contempt while passing it by w/their rebolutionary cars, that is if not literaly ignored …
    Look again at the logic … about what is counter-rebolutionary …

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