The hearse led a procession through the streets of a Cuban town then out into the countryside. It was converted from a 1980’s era Chevy S-10 blazer, a rare model to be found in Cuba where nearly all American-made cars predate the 1959 revolution. But a few foreign embassies and consulates imported cars for their own use, and sold them to Cuban businesses when they were ready for newer replacements. Behind the hearse was a ‘56 Buick, driven by Yosmani, a black-market taxi driver. Today there was no charge. Today Yosmani was transporting his childhood friend and the friend’s parents and in-laws. The rest of the families, mostly women and children, rode behind on the third vehicle. They were tossed around on the back of ‘53 International flatbed truck. It spewed purple smoke that swirled into clouds of its own dust. Along the sides of the truck, six or seven older men were riding bikes. The last car in the procession was mine, a 2005 Hyundai rental. I kept some distance trying to avoid the dust while listening to the heated conversation in the back seat.
The funeral was for a baby that had not survived childbirth. I knew the baby’s father from a previous visit and had heard that his wife was in the hospital.