HAVANA TIMES — A few weeks ago, Europe experienced its first heat wave of the year. Winds coming from the Atlantic Ocean, along with atmospheric stability and an intense period of sunshine meant that thermometers reached approximately 40 degrees Celsius, forcing people in several countries to take measures.
Cuba is quite far-removed from the European continent, but it doesn’t escape these high temperatures, on the contrary, we Caribbeans deal with them all year round, but it is clearly during June, July and August when we suffer them the most.
Yesterday, it seems that there had been an unexpected rise, because while I was traveling in a bus to the center of Guantanamo city, several events took place which proved this.
It was just about 7 AM when I walked to the bus stop and the sun was already burning bodies; many people, especially women, were protecting themselves from the sun with parasols and sunglasses, but their light clothing seemed to do nothing.
People crowded like ants, fleeing from the ultraviolet rays; although in the morning and in the shade, sweat beads were running down the bodies of nearly everyone there.
When the first bus arrived, the chaos ensued. Between shoving, shouting and exasperation, I managed to climb onto the vehicle, but I couldn’t escape a heated discussion between a woman with a child in her arms and another woman who didn’t want to give up her seat, but offered to hold the baby instead.
That’s when people’s opinions divided, a group of people defended the mother’s right to sit down and another person called her well-to-do because she didn’t want the other woman to carry her baby, who was the one who really needed to be comfortable.
The heat wreaked havoc. Several women got out their fans to try and soften the desperation that their own and other people’s sweat caused them, their bodies one on top of the other, somebody else’s breath on your nose…
Two stops on, another quarrel took place, a couple of young people were arguing with an extremely well-built man who was standing in the middle of the rear exit, and was blocking the way with his huge body so that they couldn’t get off. The argument went on a while, and they were close to ending up in blows.
The driver took off again. Thank God, some people said. When peace seemed to have finally settled in that bus, a final incident took place with a 70-something year old woman, who was dressed very young, who kicked up a fuss with a young man who asked her if she didn’t realize she was too old to be pushing and shoving others.
The woman shouted that the old woman must be his mother and a string of other insults. That last fight made lots of people laugh and people’s moods were dampened, but me, in the corner, I only thought about how if the temperature had risen by two more degrees, there would have been someone injured on that bus, I just hoped that it wouldn’t be me…