By Desmond Boylan
Absolutely no choice. This photography blog post has no pictures. (Part 1)
I was recently driving towards Havana on a small, quiet country road in central Cuba. As I came onto a long stretch there was a truck moving slowly ahead of me in my lane, that suddenly stopped on the right side. I approached slowly knowing that in Cuba there are big potholes, very scarce and slow moving traffic, and cows, horses, hens and even children crossing the roads at any time, always without looking.
I put on the indicator to overtake the truck, but I noticed there was some unusual movement off to the right among some people beside some small country homes.
What happened next was an extremely intense situation.
I suddenly saw two women, one of whom was holding a newborn baby still attached to the other by the umbilical cord, and both were yelling for help. I will never forget the expression on their faces. They had tried to climb into the truck cabin but were unable to. They looked at me, screaming for help. Before I could stop the car completely, the three passengers in the back seat of my car had already jumped out and helped in the mother of the child, followed by the other woman holding the baby. The woman holding the baby turned out to be the other’s mother, so I now had three generations of a family in crisis in my backseat. Dangling between them was the umbilical cord with the baby turning purple. I am not a doctor but common sense told me that there was no time at all to lose. I put the car in first gear and before the doors were closed I accelerated down the road blowing the horn and flashing the headlights continuously. I reached 120 kilometers per hour in a few seconds, and kept it there.
I noticed cyclists, horse-drawn carts, and pedestrians on the country road, and then on the village street, all quickly jumped out of the way when they saw the car approaching. We reached the town of Marti after a mile and a half, and the woman holding the baby indicated to me the hospital building to the right.
I pulled up in front of the entrance to the hospital and braked at a man wearing a stethoscope. I said, “Quick, look in the backseat!” He looked and immediately yelled for pincers to cut the umbilical cord. In the meantime two nurses had put the new mother onto a stretcher. I noticed the faces of the people in the hospital entrance looking in horror and disbelief at the scene. The man with the stethoscope by then had the situation under control, and from the side of the stretcher he looked at me, smiled, and gave me the thumbs up.