Appreciation / by Paul Choy

The people of Havana really know how to look after their cars. They have to. With Cuba economically cut off from the rest of the world since the late 1950's, the cars on the road today are exactly the same cars which were on the road way back then.

In a country where almost nobody has ever seen a new car, the few which are on the roads are meticulously maintained and repaired. Spare parts don't exist, so the people have had to learn how to improvise.

They fabricate new parts by eye, and find ever more ingenious ways to keep their own engines running. Most of all, though, they really take pride in their cars. They clean them, polish them, and appreciate them in ways we have long forgotten.

We have become so accustomed to our modern conveniences of life, we completely take them for granted. Our telephones, our computers, our televisions are so common, we simply see them as disposable items. When one breaks, we just assume we will pick up another to replace it.

But in Cuba, where even picking up replacement eggs means queuing for hours, people know what it means to value the things they have.

And so they look after their cars, and the other conveniences they are able to enjoy, because they know what it means to go without. Perhaps that is a lesson we could all do with learning.