By Pedro Pablo Morejon
Havana Times – I’m on a passenger truck. You couldn’t fit so much as a needle between us, but the owner insists on continuing to pick up more people with the excuse of wanting to help those down below. Even if it means crushing those inside.
Because only a fool could believe in his pretense of help or calls for solidarity that’s nothing more than a pretext to take in more money.
He climbs onto the vehicle’s back wheel, looks inside, and gives orders to move over here or over there, according to his interests, squeezing us all in as if we were cattle. He directs his glance towards me, and in a firm tone of voice asks me to move forward towards a spot he indicates. I ignore him. I don’t like obeying anyone’s orders – I wasn’t born for that.
The fare for the trip is high, and it’s uncomfortable suffering such close physical contact with strangers and their bad smells. The position of our bodies is annoying, and there’s noisy reggaeton music blaring, with its tortuous rhythm and obscene lyrics that the vehicle owner himself has taken on the job of amplifying through a loudspeaker. And on top of that, you have to put up with moving wherever he wants.
Sorry – not me. I remain in the same place. He gets down from the wheel, gets in the driver’s seat and renews the march that’s interrupted every few minutes to let someone out or let someone on. Things go on like that for some 30 minutes that feel eternal.
Finally, I get off. I was beginning to feel nauseous and have to wait a few minutes until the churning in my stomach begins to stop.
It’s a little under a third of a mile from the highway to my house, along a road that doesn’t get much traffic. The sky takes on a dark grey color, and a light drizzle begins to fall – prelude to a coming storm.
Almost no one is on the road. About 100 yards in front of me, a woman is walking. She stops, sets a small cake on the wall of a culvert, then bends over, pulls down her Lycra, and urinates, while ordering me to look the other way, so I don’t see her.
“Don’t look at me, young man, or I’ll lose the urge to pee,” she insists.
I don’t pay any attention to her, but continue looking, more out of curiosity than any morbid interest. I’m less than 50 yards away and can see her stream of urine. She pulls up her Lycra again, picks up her cake, and proclaims: “Ahhh, what a relief! I couldn’t stand the pressure.” Then she goes on walking, as if nothing had happened. A surrealist spectacle for the senses, confirming the fact that sometimes life is equal to or stranger than fiction.
I get home, and there’s no electricity, but upon opening the door I find the electric bill just behind it. This time it’s for 259.60 Cuban pesos [About 10% of what many Cubans earn]. I can’t understand why it’s so high when I’m away from home more than half the time.
My neighbor comments that her bill came equally high, and that in reality it’s more expensive than normal. The bill collector told her that with this business of frequent blackouts, the lines overheat and then consumption increases, or something like that.
The conclusion is that the Electric Company, which has a monopoly on energy, is also charging us for the blackouts; in other words, the blackouts are like some kind of added bonus for them. And if I want their service, I’ll also have to accept it, with no possible cure.
Outside, the rain is getting stronger, and my house is in shadows despite that stupid saying that goes: “There’s no such thing as a Saturday without sun, or a Sunday without love.”