Wednesday, July 16, 2008

leaving tampico mexico, destiny havana cuba

july 5 08 tampico mexico, 10:46 am

click here for photos of our journey from reynosa to tampico mexico, and our time at the tampico dockyard unloading 100 tons of humanitarian aid into a shipping container. the goods are scheduled for shipping to cuba in mid-july.

we were loading the aid into the storage container at the tampico dock until 2:30 this morning. then we had a little party on the bus, sitting, waiting and waiting -- 'hurry up and wait' being our mantra -- trying to imagine something that might make the time more enjoyable. i'm still not sure what we were waiting for at that juncture, but eventually we rolled on 'home' to the rather swishy (by mexican standards) hotel.

we bunked four to a room for our two nights in mexico, and i got lucky. my amigas (nita, melanie, and katie) were quiet, respectful, and slept peacefully. actually, we slept like the dead. i've been relatively fortunate all along the journey, actually, to have relatively comfortable and quiet sleeping accomodations. at this point i'm not sure i remember the last time i slept more than 3 or 4 or maybe, maybe if i'm lucky, 5 hours - it was at least a week ago. i've lived these 47 years, born the year that the goberniero de estados unidos imposed it's illegal and immoral bloqueo, and i honestly didn't know that i could function on so little sleep for so many consecutive nights.

our departure time was scheduled for 9:50 am. we were awakened around 5:15 and we hurried up and waited for breakfast, and then we hurried and waited for the bus departure. i almost passed out, standing up on the crowded and humid bus. after about ten minutes of this, someone remembered he forgot to turn in his phone key (there are a hundred and twenty five of us, i'm still trying to get all the names straight) and i was able to squat on an old bus seat on the floor, surrounded by other sweaty caravanistas standing and sitting in the hot humidity. i pretended it was a steam bath, that i was being purified by being there. i sprayed some of my magical antiseptic aromatherapy (thanks kym, for suggesting i combine frankinsense, lavendar, and tea tree - it's saved my life in a variety of situations, especially when driving by the dead animals in reynosa, and then there's that lovely scent of open sewers, periodically, in otherwise very funky mexican society) into my handkerchief, on a small patch that wasn't covered in snot, and breathed deeply and sweated profusely.

working into the wee hours, we got almost all the aid into the shipping container. there were too many of us there, actually, creating the 'chain gangs' as my african-american, indigenous, and latino friends affectionately referred to them, passing walkers and crutches and tables and wheelchairs and boxes of school supplies and tables etc from the buses to the storage bin. the ship wasn't in the port, we don't know when it might arrive, we put all the goods into the container where they're safely locked away until they can be transported.

the experience at the dock was climactic in one regard, and anti-climactic in another. we had loaded and unloaded those buses (well, they had .... sicko mio unable to participate until last night) so many times, carefully and lovingly transporting the gifts from our cuban loving friends across the united states and canada, establishing our own personal relationships within our buses also, now, destined for cuba. only the olympia bus (a heritage bus, the one that almost killed me with diesel during our first run, but which offered safe sanctuary while i healed from my illness, which listened patiently to our songs, our poetry, our stories of revolutionary struggle and our lives), the little white bus, the broken down bus in mcallen, and the 'red queen,' the cargo truck, will return through the us - two along the west coast, two along the east. it was sad to see it all end.

i'm still too tired to realize we're on our way to cuba. i'm in a state of suspended disbelief, i suppose. the next part of our adventure will be busy, but rather different from what we've experienced these past couple of weeks. our days will be full, visiting churches and schools and community agriculture projects, and the latin american school of medicine, perhaps hospitals and clinics, and being greeted by dignitaries and enjoying time to wander the historical streets of old havana and venturing to nearby beaches. i'm guessing it'll go something like that.