By Veronica Fernandez
—From the moment that I get out onto the streets in Cojimar, located 15 minutes by bus from the city of Havana, there’s always some neighbor approaching me to ask how I think the transportation will go that day, more so if it’s Monday.
When I reach the bus stop I find myself, as usual, in a long line. There are babies in their mother’s arms on the way to day care; other children, a little older, are headed to primary school; there are teenagers going to high school or to the vocational schools; and the rest of us are adults on our way to work.
I have to deal with the No. 58 bus line every day, which is the route that takes me to Havana. I wish I could work closer to home, but unfortunately there are hardly any workplaces in this zone. Most of us are dependent on the public buses in order to earn our daily living.
Those at the bus stop are grumbling, and others are talking louder about how close we are to Havana and yet how difficult it is to get transportation out of this town, especially during rush hour. Some empty buses belonging to workplaces pass by and people complain as they don’t stop to pick up anyone. All of a sudden an Army officer who was standing on the corner comes over to us and tells us that we should calm down, because these problems are in the process of being solved little by little.
Some people look at him suspiciously; others whisper or even make fun of him behind his back. But another group of us back him up. And in fact all of those people with their negative thoughts are nearly struck dumb when all of a sudden a large yellow bus, belong to some workplace on an empty return trip, and with almost no one in it, stops and the driver -also a native of Cojimar- opens the front door and says, “Who’s going to Havana?” He doesn’t have time to finish the sentence before people begin to pile in.
The crowding and pushing reach such an extreme that if I hadn’t stepped back from the crush, they would have knocked me over. “The medicine is almost worse than the disease”, I tell myself.
Finally, everyone is safely aboard the yellow bus, some sitting and others standing. It seems to us that a true marvel has fallen from the sky. “The extraterrestrials have arrived,” I thought.
“Am I dreaming, or is this really happening?” asks a woman of about 60 comfortably sitting in a seat. “It’s reality,” answers the officer and the driver seconds him. Another elderly man adds, “God bless you, my son.”
A thought pops into my head, and I say it out loud, that if each of us would just do what this driver has done, life would be easier and people would be happier.