Alexandra Archuleta is a senior Communication major at California State University, East Bay. She currently holds a position as a Marketing Coordinator at Bluesun Marketing, Inc. and hopes to continue her career in marketing after she receives her B. A. in Communication with an option in Professional, Public, and Organizational Communication in December. In her free time, she practices yoga and enjoys discovering new cultural and food experiences including a quest to find amazing enchiladas.
Nothing is as it Seems: My Journey to Understanding Havana, Cuba
On June 30, 24 classmates, two instructors, and myself left our comfortable, convenient, American lives to transplant ourselves to Havana, Cuba where we would stay for the next 18 days. I went to Cuba not knowing anyone in the group, only retaining about 30 percent of my seven years of Spanish education, and very little understanding of who the Cuban people actually are. Leading up to my arrival, I had read and watched videos about Cuba, but no amount of background research could have prepared me for what I was going to learn about Cuban culture, American culture, and ultimately myself. I came to Cuba with a lot of assumptions, I was proven wrong, and I learned to adapt. Overall, I learned that nothing is as it seems.
I came to Cuba in search of answers.
Prior to my departure, I had done quite a bit of research on La Libreta, or the food ration books provided by the Cuban Government to its citizens. It was to my understanding that Cubans received an allotted amount per household depending on age, gender, and health status of the people living in the house. All of this information was recorded in La Libreta, and tracked by the worker at the government-owned bodega. Each bodega is assigned to 2-3 city blocks, or around 120 families each. Typically, there is one shopkeeper at the bodega who is responsible for receiving the exact allotment of food for its assigned residents for the month, rationing out the food, and keeping track of it all in a three-part antiquated bookkeeping system (the resident’s libreta, the shop’s book, and another book to show the government). While this process seemed inefficient to me, I was curious about how the Cubans make it work, if it was sufficient aid, and how they have seen it change over time.
Visit Alexandra’s project, “Insatiable: Cuba’s Food Ration System and the People of Cuba”