Waiting Room / Iván García

[Note: This post is from 2009 — see note below]

Around midnight I arrived at the bus terminal in Havana, a three-story building, painted blue and white. It was built in the late 40’s and inaugurated in 1951.

It takes up a block, and more than 100 buses a day leave for the 14 Cuban provinces and major cities across the country. Before 1959, the average for these bus trips, coming and going, was 1,500 every 24 hours.

As I was taking only a backpack and a briefcase, the luggage department told me I could take them on board. They checked my ticket and I went to a circular room with air conditioning and plenty of seating in black plastic.

It’s the waiting room. Two hours later my bus leaves for Ciego de Avila, a province located some 400 kilometers east of the capital.

The independent journalist Pablo Pacheco was born there. He’s now in the Canaleta prison. I am bringing him some gifts that my mother sent from Switzerland to his wife, Oleyvis, and his son Jimmy.

Pacheco is one of the 75 arrested during the Black Spring, in March 2003. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison, and he has served 6. Of the 75, 57 still remain behind bars.

All are in prison for thinking, writing and saying aloud that their country urgently needs political and economic changes.

Note: In a 24-hour trip in April 2009 that I took to Ciego de Avila, I wrote 10 articles. The Waiting Room is the first. The others are: Obama at Dawn, For a Fried Chicken, A Natural Guajiro, Highway Police, A Cuban Sunrise, Blind on Sight, The Pimp of Venezuela, Dr. Oleyvis, and From a Pedicab. All the posts published in 2009 on the blog From Havana were accidentally deleted. Since we have the originals, we are going to post them again here, or on Tania Quintero’s blog.

Pablo Pacheco and his son Jimmy discover snow from their exile in Spain.

Translated by Regina Anavy