Transport in Cuba
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Chinese Torture / BuenavistaVCuba Weblog

Chinese Torture / BuenavistaVCuba Weblog
BuenavistaVCuba Weblog, Translator: Unstated
By Yoaxis Marcheco Suarez

Many people think I'm talking about some torture method designed by the
Chinese to deliberately hurt someone, but it's far from that, I'm
talking about the famous Yutong brand buses made in China, although I am
sure there is nothing intentional in their design with the goal of
torturing us, but even so they do so with amazing efficiency, especially
when the distance traveled is long.

Obviously the Chinese did not make their Yutong buses thinking about the
characteristics of Cubans. If they had they would have made the space
between the seats a little greater, because we don't like to ride with
someone else hanging over us, especially if people we don't know are too
close to us.

The seats in these buses have caused more altercations between the
passengers and if you really want to know what I mean by torture you
would ride one of these buses from Villa Clara to Havana and it would be
enough to understand, although you would have to be a masochist to take
this 14 hour journey from the capital to a point in the eastern part of
the country.

Jokes abound among the clients of the nation's only bus line, the ASTRO,
which despite its name loses more luster every day, because the buses
are aging and not receiving much maintenance. For example the backs of
the narrow seats have mesh bags for a water bottle or some other object
that we carry on, but no more. In many of the buses the curtains are
cracked, or cannot be snapped shut, so we have to travel under the hot
Cuban sun, or in the cold of the moonlit night. Or if the glass is dirty
you can't see out which is very bad for the claustrophobic.

If we add the stink that emerges from the bathroom, added to the
monotony of travel because the screens for projecting films don't work
and the music is unserviceable for the whole trip. But the most
uncomfortable thing is how little space there is between the seats.

As I said, the joke and conjectures are many: that the Chinese think we
Cubans have limbs as short as their, or we're as skinny or as stiff as
they are, that the buses were made to travel short distances, that even
if I wore kneepads I'd be poking some guy in the back, that the fat
chick next to me almost pushed me to the floor and the last I heard:
HEY! This bus is a Chinese torture chamber!

Recently we were visited at home by a group of friends and the anecdotes
rained down and in my house I finished the tube of Ben-gay giving my
visitors massages, imagining their misery stuck in the seats right in
front of the bathroom which don't even recline.

If anyone still doubts what torture these buses are, if a foreigner
comes to the country and doesn't travel in a rented car or the tourist
buses, they should climb into a national Astro, sit themselves down on
one of those rigid seats and I'm sure after that experience no one will
be able to tell them stories about the true reality that we Cubans live
every day.

9 Mar 2012

http://translatingcuba.com/?p=16274 Tags: bus, China, tourist, travel

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