A man shouts save yourself if you can, the tide is rising every day that passes – Carlos Varela
Por Pedro Pablo Morejon
HAVANA TIMES – I recently needed to make a trip. Transport is awful right now. To tell you the truth, it’s always been bad, but it’s got worse with the Pandemic because transport options have become limited for your average Cuban.
I left the San Diego Junction heading for Puerta de Golpe at 7:30 AM. It is 34 km to get there, plus the same distance to get back. I returned at 5 PM. I spent over 6 hours on the highway during that time.
Something interesting happened to me on my way back. I got off at one of those bridges on the highway (sometimes you can only travel from one junction to the next), when I heard a cellphone ringing. I looked all around me and I couldn’t see anyone. I followed the sound and found the cellphone on a wall under the slope of the bridge. It was a Samsung in excellent condition, all new and shiny. A lot better than my tiny and worn-out Huawei. I put it in my briefcase with the illusion of keeping it. It seems someone must have been there a few minutes before and had left it.
For a few minutes, I thought about the alternatives to taking out the SIM card, throwing it away and putting mine in. Or I could give it back to the owner if they appeared to reclaim it. Being the sentimental person full of principles that I am, I didn’t do that. I chose instead to wait to see if they called again, because I couldn’t unlock it without the passcode. However, in my gut, I wished nobody would call, wishing nobody would show up. I wished that somebody would pick me up to take me away from there. I wished to keep it.
But a guy turned up on an electric moped a short while later, somewhat jittery. He asked me if I had seen a phone with X characteristics around there. He said he had left it and when I gave it back to him, he gave me a satisfied smile, took off on the moped and didn’t even say thank you.
Did I do the right thing? Some of you would think I did, the majority will think I was a perfect idiot, I think I am sometimes too… I’m no saint but I still have certain moral atavisms. That put me at a disadvantage when we live in a society where men hunt men.
Later, a modern car belonging to the Cubataxi Company stopped when I waved a note in the air. I gave the driver the money and got in. Further ahead, crossing the Consolacion del Sur bridge, two men waved their own fans of notes, I guess they must have been 100 and 50 peso bills.
“Look, look, those are nuclear weapons,” said the driver, who ended up being a nice and hard-working man. He put on the brakes immediately and reversed.
The two guys, who looked like criminals, offered him 500 pesos each to take them to Havana.
“Do they let you cross the border?”
“Nobody stops this car. But guys you’re not carrying beef or anything problematic in those packages are you?
“Nothing like that, asere.”
He put the packages in the trunk and they got in. It turns out they were heading for Marianao, where the driver said he was going.
“Socio you gave me a pearl rifle but these people have come with tracer guns,” he said with ease about the money they offered.
We all laughed. We then talked about the situation here in Cuba. How things are dire, how Havana is about to explode. How everything is so expensive and you can’t find anything, just like in Pinar del Rio.
I got off at the Paso Real bridge and another guy got in waving a note.
It’s strange now for somebody to help someone else out without expecting something in return. The situation is becoming harder and harder, and everything has a price. It’s a matter of saving yourself if you can.