Nostradamus in a Gypsy Cab (Almendrón) / Rosa María Rodríguez Torrado

I was on my way back home in a collective gypsy cab or almendrón which I took at the intersection of Linea and G streets, in the Vedado neighborhood, where there is a popular route of these cabs going towards La Vibora. Before arriving 23rd Ave. the old car was already full. The last passenger that got in the vehicle commented “how rough is the life out there” and that was the fuse which set off all of us, including the driver, to channel our opinions. We expressed different judgements and new projects and political ideas, as well as, sociological, economic and even philosophic, over the things that should be done to rule the destinies of our country in the future. We exercised our freedom of speech in that rolling piece of junk and we were engaged in an amused and productive debate for most of the trip, in which the one who started the conversation showed a wide political culture that was praised by some of the riders. He also said that all of us in the archipelago were prophets in the political, social and economic scenes that inevitably will prevail in Cuba in the near future.
When we passed the traffic light on Santa Catalina and Vento, the debate’s protagonist raised his voice in an authoritative tone and said:

– Driver, take this car directly to Villa Marista*, because you are all arrested.

We were astonished and for a few seconds that felt like an eternity, a thought came to my mind of the upcoming trouble I would have, if, at the headquarters of the political police they dig through my long and old record as a dissident. I wished more than ever to have a cell phone at hand, to warn my family about how difficult that circumstance could be. However, in face of the silence of the rest, I replied very upset:

– What’s the reason why ? We only exercised our freedom of speech. What’s the problem ? Driver, don’t go anywhere, because this supposed officer didn’t identify himself yet!

-Lady- argued the driver in a whiney tone – Are you suggesting I should disrespect the authority ? I am a revolutionary, although I disagree with certain things, but I give my life for the Cuban Revolution and Fidel.

Just when I was expecting another intervention earmarked by fear, we turned towards Mayia Rodriguez street and the young Nostradamus ordered the owner of the vehicle:

– Stop at the next corner.

When the old car stopped he extended his hand with a ten pesos bill, got out of the car laughing, and started walking on San Mariano St.

Some of the passengers remaining in the car shouted all sort of insults, but he didn’t answer to anybody. He kept on walking, meanwhile there was a scattering of nervous laughter all around, and turning back his head every now and then as if he was a chased maniac. After that, there was a long silence that lasted until the place where I got out of the car.

I am not quite sure if we the passengers on that trip lost our sense of humor or we gained humor in the sense, but the fact is, it happened the same way as I am telling you right now.

*Translator’s note: Villa Marista is the headquarters and jail of the Cuban political police.

Translated by: Adrian Rodriguez

June 16 2011