“Death” on a Bicycle / Rebeca Monzo

A friend who lives on J Street in Vedado, near the monument to Don Quixote, told me that a man she knows in the neighborhood told her the following story of something that had happened. It turns out that this man, already older, lives in a room in what was once a family house, and not having access to any sanitary services he takes care of his needs on a newspaper which he then wraps up and takes to a trash container to throw it away. He was leaving his room with the little packet in hand to get rid of it, when a passing cyclist snatched it out of his hand. He sat down on the curb of the sidewalk to laugh like crazy just imagining the tremendous shock that would overcome the thief on wheels, when he saw the contents of the takings from the robbery.

My friend L, currently living in the United States, told me that when her daughter went on vacation to my planet, she went to the Basilica of San Francisco in Old Havana, to attend a concert. When she had almost reached the plaza, a boy on a bicycle tried to snatch her bag, but she clung to the strap to try to stop him and another rider, who was following behind the first, was the one who finally took the spoils. She recalled that her mother, before emigrating, also had a similar incident with a boy on a bicycle.

Dani was walking along the Avenida de Carlos III, looking for Calle Oquendo. She was proudly wearing her brand new sunglasses, just brought into the country. At that time, when looking cautiously to the side of traffic to cross the street, she felt an itch on her face and was perplexed to see a cyclist carrying away in his right hand her pair of glasses. All she had left was the memory of having had them, plus a few scratches on her face.

These thieves are usually at the exits of the stores, usually in pairs, as if innocently talking. When you leave the place, bags in hand, they come to ask directions, or the time, or they simply bump the person in question and then, while they distract them by offering an apology, along comes another person and, BAM!, they grab their bags and pedal like hell.

So, if you get excited by the idea of coming to my planet for a vacation, keep your eyes on the bikes! Don’t let it come to close because, though it’s not a question of death, they might leave you like a plucked chicken.

September 24, 2010