Supposedly I am going to a "worker's paradise" a land free of commercialism, annoying ads and ubiquitous "Enjoy Coca-Cola" signs. A pre-capitalist haven where "each gives according to his ability and receives according to his needs." A true nanny-state which coddles the worker. An Obamacare fantasy as imagined by Michael Moore. A place where the intrusive messages of commerce haven't created desires for styles and brands where we all know GENERIC is just as good.
So, then why is my Cuba shopping list so brand specific? I was told to buy no less 300 thread count sheets with an "understated design" because that's what they like in Cuba. Don't get me started on thread count...because as a good capitalist I shoot for 600. However what is an "understated design" and what do Cubans know about it? I mean really, what's more understated than a white sheet? Perhaps overstated means red hammer and sickles with a Che logo? They can't buy them there so they should be happy if I give them a very nice Smurf pattern that I saw marked down at Target. Understated....really!?!
The second item on my list was Colgate toothpaste "because they don't have any toothpaste." You know my Grandpappy brushed with baking soda during the depression and died with all his teeth. I am not a brand loyalist when it comes to toothpaste, whatever is on sale is fine with me. I do like the smooth texture of Crest and Aqua-Fresh has a perky aftertaste. I find the bouquet Arm & Hammer baking soda nice, but it has a granular quality. Premium brands are nice, but a two-buck chuck is fine. The worst of course is airline toothpaste or Chinese toothpaste. So why Colgate? I am not a fan of Colgate. Perhaps it's the red box, strong aroma or the bitter flavor....kinda like communism, so there is some logic there.
What killed me is that they suggested I could find all these items at Valsan or Marshall's (capitalist much?). Never heard of Valsan? Well Valsan is a special wearhouse store for people going to Cuba (7 Miami locations to serve you). Stocked with all the items most in demand by those on the island. Surveyed by the 250,000 Cuban exiles that travel to Cuba every year, Valsan stocks special suitcases, vacuum bags (for the pillows I'm taking), Colgate, brand name shoes, jewelry and every necessity for those on the island. A one stop shopping paradise for those who claim to be for the Cuban Embargo.
The reason for this trip is for a Traditional Cuban Wedding. What do I usually wear to a Traditional Cuban wedding? A Guayabera shirt. I was just informed that I could not wear a Guayabera to the wedding because I would be confused with a Communist Party Official. Now my Grandfather used to shoot Communists in the banana fields of Honduras.....all he wore were Guayaberas. I was told to leave my Guayabera at home, which was purchased at La Casa De Las Guayaberas and is probably one of the most expensive shirts I own. I was also informed that Cubans don't wear shorts....fuck it...I'm not adhering to a dress code from a bunch of communists who tell me to shop at Marshall's....I'm sorry but I need to go to Nordstrom's for shopping therapy.