Before leaving her house, Danyelis checked everything she was carrying: her briefcase and backpack, a bottle of water, money, and an identity card, as well as coats and a snack for the road. But not even so many precautions prepared her for the cold she experienced at the Havana Bus Terminal. The place does not have “the minimum conditions” to protect itself from the cool winds of this December, laments this 44-year-old Havanan who was on her way to the city of Ciego de Ávila.
“The season is hot in the summer and cold in the winter because when the temperatures rise, the air conditioning does not work well, but when they drop, the cold sneaks in everywhere,” Danyelis explains to this newspaper. The experience in the terminal was going to remain a warm memory compared to what awaited him on the road trip. “People put towels, sheets and even backpacks on top” because the Yutong bus “looked like a sardine can full of holes.”
Just at the moment when the thermometer began to collapse, the woman and dozens of passengers were traveling between the western zone and the central part of the Island, an extensive flat area where the lowest temperatures on the Island are recorded. “It was not only the cold, is that we could hardly eat anything on the way because what was not closed was without offers,” he warns. “The vendors who almost always come out of the way when a stop is made did not even approach the bus.”
“When we arrived in Ciego de Ávila we were all wrapped in clothes like a tamale, it was a relief to get off the bus,” says Danyelis. “People were not prepared because we don’t have good coats here and the elderly or those who live at home in very poor condition are the ones who have the worst time.” Homeless people, who normally spend the night on stairs leading to buildings, entrances or parks, also experience more difficult days when winter arrives.
With temperatures below 20 degrees, Cubans have experienced a winter weekend that has coincided with the Christmas festivities. The low temperatures have deterred many from taking to the streets, which for a good part of Sunday and Monday were especially empty of passers-by. However, around shops and markets the queues to buy food hardly diminished.
“As soon as I arrived in Ciego de Ávila, my family prepared a hot soup for me. Luckily, they had been able to buy the chicken a few days ago,” the woman details. In her neighborhood of Centro Habana, from where she began her Christmas trip, there are hundreds of neighbors who continue in long lines to try to reach the pork that the State is distributing on a rationed basis, between 235 and 250 pesos per pound. “My mom stayed in one of those queues, full of rags but she’s still there.”
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