With His Heart in His Throat

Jorge Milanes

El malecón de La Habana.

HAVANA TIMES, April 15 – This guy had spent a few unforgettable days in Cuba: he rode a horse, went diving in a coral reef, visited both Havana and Cienfuegos, danced reggaeton and conga, roasted a pig on a stake, drank a whole lot of rum and —to top it off— he fell in love.

Today though, he was returning to his country. His flight was scheduled to leave at 9:00 this evening.  He paced back and forth in his room, anxious, not knowing what to do as he looked at his suitcase on the bed:

“Can I help you with anything?” I asked.

“No thanks, almost everything’s in the suitcase,” he answered, while heading for the bathroom.

In the street a car sounded its horn.

“Just a moment,” I yelled from the front door. I then walked out to the driver.

“He’ll be right out; he’s in the bathroom,” I added.

“No problem, we have time,” he responded.

I went back in the room as our guest was coming out of the bathroom.

“Did the driver get here yet?” he asked.

“Yes, but you have time,” I replied.

“I have to go by and pick up that girl who’s going to see me off at the airport…”

“Check everything so you don’t leave anything,” my mother urged.

He took his suitcase to the car and said goodbye to everyone.

Then, when I believed he had finally gone, I went into his room and found his passport and airline ticket still on the nightstand.

Well, I don’t have a car and I couldn’t chase after him on foot.  I had little choice but to wait for him to come back. “I’m sure he’ll return.” I thought to myself.

The whole family was upset; missing the flight would mean he’d have to pay an additional $100 CUCs (US $125) to leave the following day – money he didn’t have.

One hour later —with his heart in his throat— he showed up racing at full speed looking for his passport and ticket.  We had already said goodbye so he jumped back into the car and sped off to the airport.

Thirty-five minutes later we received a call:

“Family, family, my flight’s not today, It’s tomorrow…”