There is no breeze. It’s the middle of the afternoon. It’s hot and humid. It’s the tropics, after all.
I stopped to talk with three ladies selling “refresco” out of a huge blue tank on wheels. The colored and flavored liquid they dispensed resembled unset Jell-O or, to date myself, Za-Rex. People brought their own bottles and paid a few pesos for the sticky, sweet syrup.
Two of the ladies were fanning themselves. I said to the other woman that she also needed a fan. When she replied that she didn’t even have a fan at home, I half jokingly said “Let’s go. I’ll buy you one”. I could not image trying to sleep without circulating some air.
She immediately took me up on my offer. It was almost two hours later before we found a fan. We walked in a huge circle from the west end of Centro Havana to Old Havana and back before we stumbled on an out-of-the-way store that had new fans.
I thought she was going to cry when I presented the box to her.
Looking through her bag she said “I have nothing to give you, but please take my pen”
That pen now sits on my desk.
That pen reminds me of the struggles of every day life some people face.
That pen reminds me daily of how fortunate I am.