Heat wave takes over Guantanamo

Rosa Martinez

The Yumuri cañon, Guantánamo. Photo: Lazaro Gonzalez

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…

Rosa Martínez

Rosa Martinez: I am another Havana Times contributing writer, university professor and mother of two beautiful and spoiled girls, who are my greatest joy. My favorite passions are reading and to write and thanks to HT I’ve been able to satisfy the second. I hope my posts contribute towards a more inclusive and more just Cuba. I hope that someday I can show my face along with each of my posts, without the fear that they will call me a traitor, because I’m not one.

10 thoughts on “Heat wave takes over Guantanamo

  • July 14, 2017 at 1:22 am

    I agree with you emagicmtman that age is a very probable factor in getting dehydrated. Having walked in many countries, some of which were fairly hot and in one instance added to by volcanic activity, I used to be pretty heat tolerant, but that has undoubtedly diminished. When walking daily in Cuba, I am careful about the timing during that July-early October period. Have you noticed that although the Banks have air conditioning, they make their clients wait outside in the heat and humidity until permitted to enter by ‘security’. Not possible under capitalism!

  • July 13, 2017 at 12:21 pm

    Age might be a factor, too. When I was 16, during my very first stay in Cuba, way back in June through August of 1959, I didn’t seem to mind the heat; now it is much harder. During a two-month trip in Sept. and Oct. of 2012, I remarked to a waiter in Santiago (noting that his restaurant was almost empty, save for myself and a couple–a young Cuban chica and her much older Italian “companion”–that the heat must have something to do with the lack of clientele. His establishment had an outstanding review in the LONELY PLANET guide. The waiter replied that, on the contrary, the place had been hopping during July and August, when many young French and German tourists were vacationing. As the lyrics of several Cuban songs reveal, Santiago is hot–in more ways than one!

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