Ariel Glaria Enriquez
HAVANA TIMES — The following discussion took place at the bus stop where I wait every day, on the morning of Friday, March 18, two days before Obama arrived in Havana.
“They’re saying public transportation services in Havana will be limited starting tomorrow because of Obama’s visit,” a man who was smoking a cigar said to me, without looking at me, when I got to the bus stop.
“The smart fellow is bringing his own fleet of cars and several thousand Americans with him,” he went on, not caring to confirm whether I was paying attention or not.
The cigar-smoking man added: “Just in case I have to stay home all weekend, I’m taking all I need with me.” He showed me a plastic bag.
A mature woman with a strong-looking body who had just arrived at the stop said: “It almost seems as though a hurricane is coming. I just came from my sister’s. She says that, as of tomorrow, she won’t even set foot outside the house, not until Wednesday, at least.”
I told her what the man with the cigar had just told me about public transportation during Obama’s visit.
Woman: “That’s what they announced for Sunday, as of noon. And get ready, because they’ll be shutting down the bay tunnel.”
Man with cigar: “I see no point in shutting down the tunnel. All that does is inconvenience people and benefit private cab drivers, who can ask for an arm and a leg just because they have to take a long detour.” After a pause, he added: “As I see it, things will get here too late for us anyways.”
Woman: “It makes me happy to think my children and grandchildren will have a different experience.”
Man with cigar: “That’s the same thing I would hear as a young man when all of this started, and look at me now,” he said, spreading out his arms.
Woman: “Well, look, I suggest you quit smoking and getting worked up. You can’t change the past. We’ve got to stay positive.”
Man with cigar: “The only thing I want is to eat well and not to have leaks at home. With respect to what they’re doing for Obama’s visit, I think it’s a bit over the top. Everyone knows this is the safest country in the world and no one’s going to lift a finger during his visit.”
Woman: “What they fear is something else.”
A man with a kid said: “I may strike you as out of my mind, but whether Obama comes or not is all the same to me. The only thing I care about is being able to put food on the table for my kid. I don’t understand this whole business of fighting with the Americans, most of us here are oblivious to all that.”
Woman: “That’s true. There are many things we’re still not ready for, but they have to happen someday.”
Man with cigar: “You think this country can get on its feet with only the money we have?”
Woman: “I didn’t say that. What’s more, we haven’t been able to save any money in Cuba for years. We spend what we earn in a month in a single day, and that can’t be good for our future.”
“Dad, my tooth fell out,” said the kid, whimpering. People continued to arrive at the bus stop.