A Trip by Bus to Bayamo, Cuba

From the bus.

Yanelis Nuñez Leyva

HAVANA TIMES — I saw the most beautiful sunset in the world while heading to Bayamo, a city located in Cuba’s province of Granma. Though I was tired because of the ten-hour bus trip and rather anxious over other matters, I couldn’t help but be enthralled by this magnificent event.

It is one of those “small things” that, as singer-songwriter Serrat rightly says (without making it sound as cheesy as I do), gives everything meaning again.

I had never travelled so far from Havana – I had only gone as far east as Villa Clara, where I went two years ago.

I had the opportunity to take a trip to Bayamo (the third of seven settlements founded by conquistador Diego Velazquez in the 16th century) as part of an exhibition (titled El teatro en imagenes, “The Theater in Images”) I put together with a former classmate, Estela Ferrer.

We travelled along with Rolando de Oraa, a visual artist who took part in the exhibition we mounted for the Primavera Teatral (“Theater Spring”), a five-day cultural event that the province of Granma has been organizing since the year 2000.

We were privileged: we travelled on Cuba’s more luxurious Via Azul. The bus began to empty as we crossed the different provinces, such that, when we reached Camaguey (roughly on the middle of the island) I counted only twelve people in the 40-seat bus.

This struck me as odd, for the driver would make a five-minute stop at every provincial terminal. Via Azul offers services in CUC, so the lack of customers didn’t surprise me. What seemed curious to me is that almost none of the passengers were headed to Bayamo.

The Bayamo Theater from the bus.

Night was falling heavily before us and we had no energy to tell jokes or even talk.

These trips are a positive experience. I saw desolate, impoverished towns, but I also caught sight of picturesque, clean and warm places. I was only able to imagine their more sinister details while glimpsing at them through the bus window.

What saved us from hunger was a bag of crackers we bought at a terminal, whose name I don’t recall now. We saw far too many terminals in one day, and they’re all very much alike.

The Villa Azucarera Cautillo, where we were lodged, was comfortable, but too far from town. This meant more buses for us. I had thought that, after arriving, we’d be able to make do without buses, get away from the hectic pace of the capital and the difficulties to move about. But every time we had to come or go to take a shower, eat or sleep, we had to catch yet another bus.

To be continued…