This edition of People-to People contacts is courtesy of Yoani Sanchez,
the most dangerous woman in Cuba and her blog, Generacion Y.
A new bus line has been circulating through the streets of Havana for a few weeks. With their intensely red color, large ads and an unusual upper deck, this new “spaceship” moves through major arteries on a tour that costs five convertible pesos. Its customers are those tourists interested in a condensed tour of the main places of our city. A superb opportunity for those who prefer to watch from the second floor what from ground level is totally different.
Baked under the strong May sun, they trigger the shutters of their cameras and are kept safe from broken sewers, destroyed sidewalks and mangy dogs that make up my cityscape. Meanwhile, we watch the double-decker bus as if it had come out of a travel brochure for New York or Tokyo. From the seats “up there” the happy faces of the passengers speak of a Havana that only they seem to see. The truth is that I am not surprised at such myopia, because the effects, to one’s vision, caused by a refreshing mojito, are well known.
Upon watching them on their rolling rooftop, I evoked a neighbor that one day asked me “What is the most visible difference between a tourist and a Cuban?” In my simplicity, I enumerated the sun creams, Lonely Planet tour books and mosquito spray… but no. The answer was more obvious: “A tourist always looks upwards. He is dumbfounded by the architecture, stained glass windows, arches and columns, but we Cubans walk paying attention to the holes that would jeopardize our ankles.” Although this is one of those exaggerations that ends up being a cliché, it seems to me that this double-decker bus is moving in the same direction as my neighbor’s joke. From up there, there is nothing left to stand between the eyes of those dazzled tourists and the buildings that are more than a century old. Not even we, -mere extras on this set- are a hindrance to enjoying what is above our heads.