The Hershey train V

Car begins to fill for afternoon run between Havana and Matanzas.
   Later that same day I return to Casablanca Station (the ferry across the harbour can be a story for another time). I take a seat on the first car and notice a fellow passenger looking around and taking photos – guess I won't be the only non-Cuban on this trip.
   I glance over at the station and see a woman pointing at me from inside. A man in a purple shirt and blue jeans comes into the car – I find out later he's the conductor – and tells me I must buy a ticket at the office. Here I can't simply pay the conductor.
   I'm North American, I want to say. What do I know about train travel?
Before the train leaves, there's time for talk.
   Inside the station, I hand the woman 1.40 CUC and now, properly paid up, am rewarded with a smile. The train is filling but my seat is still free. We leave on schedule.
   The conductor is busy. The electric door to the car isn't working and he needs to hold it open at each stop. Between stations we chat, and I learn he is also a train driver and a mechanic. The employees rotate through the various tasks. He's also a train buff – not really a surprise – and he asks me about Canada's CP and CN lines, and the train rides through the Rocky Mountains. Now I must confess out loud my ignorance about trains, this time in my own country.
  Other people speak, and I'm told, "The train killed a cow this morning." The mystery of the stop between stations is solved.
A fan of American action movies decides to show off his knowledge of English expletives. "Son of a bitch!" he roars. "Bastard!" "Motherf**er!"
   I cringe, but then I look around and see no one is paying attention. Ah, very good, I tell him.
   At Hershey, my cab driver is waiting. He was early; we're right on time. Far as I'm concerned, you can set your watch to this railroad.

Welcome aboard: Rural stops are frequent.


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