Leaving the Book Fair

Jorge Milanés

Havana's Book Fair at the San Carlos de la Cabaña Fortress

The 19th International Havana Book Fair is running through Sunday.  To get to the principal site many people coming to the principal site, at the colonial-era Cabaña fortress, make use of a system of buses called “trompos” (spinning tops), which shuttle frequently under the Havana Bay tunnel.

In the morning these buses travel to and from many points across the city, but it’s most difficult to catch one in the late afternoon, when everyone is leaving the fair at the same time, 6:00 pm.

Last night, after finishing up work at the Press Center, I tried to catch one of those buses that stop at the exit, controlled by inspectors.  I got there at exactly 6:00, and was in a hurry because I had to go to the university.

From the instant that bus stopped, people began to rush it in a tumultuous invasion.  I couldn’t get on that one, but since another one would come by in around three minutes, I stopped trying and waited patiently.  Indeed, another one did come along, and it too filled up, but not as much as the previous one.

Working through the middle of the crowd, I succeeded at getting on and made myself comfortable space at the top of the entryway, but in a position so that others could also file in.

Suddenly I heard a voice saying, “Go a little farther back, please.” A second voice added, “The middle of the bus is empty, and there are only two more people trying to get on.”

The driver, when seeing the excess of people wouldn’t allow him to close the door, drove the bus forward slowly so that others arriving wouldn’t continue hanging on the door.

A woman who was able to get on behind me had a bag full of books, which weighed so much it was hard for her to hold it.

When the driver finally decided to get going, the woman tried to grab the bar with her one free hand.

“Mam, please, that’s not the support bar,” I exclaimed, shocked when feeling the woman’s hand clinching my crotch.

“Excuse me my love,” she responded —with great embarrassment— as she let go.

2 thoughts on “Leaving the Book Fair

  • too funny…

  • Beautifully written, Jorge. All your posts remind me of Cuba. I have a Cuban friend in my home town in California named Jorge Milanes. I’m going to tell him to read your stuff.

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