|Car begins to fill for afternoon run between Havana and Matanzas.|
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.|
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.|