shar pei' than 'old age'. i had a bag of foam blocks that i wanted covered with different fabric pieces so i could make a headboard. as we haggled over a price, she looked at me through her coke bottles glasses and i could tell she didn't think much of me or my project. she demanded money up front and i almost walked away- but everyone had said she was the best and i wanted my headboard perfect. against my better judgment, i handed over my materials and cash.
a week later i made my way to her booth in the mercado. when i stood before her, she refused to look at me. after several attempts to engage her, she finally leaned forward, waved her hands angrily to shoo me away and shouted in spanish, 'this is cuba, white lady, there is nothing you can do!'
i looked around at all the other vendors and a few fat policemen watching our exchange and sipping coke nearby and understood that she was absolutely right. after a long moment, i walked away and started making a mental list of where i had to go to replace my fabric.