Aboard the Sugar Train

The 12:39 to Matanzas by Michael Scott Moore
The Atlantic, September 2009

"The sugar train to Matanzas started with a trundle and a high moan from the horn, pulling away from the suburbs of Havana with stateliness rather than speed, pursued by stragglers who hopped aboard like hobos catching a freight. The cars had wooden seats and windows open to the tropical breeze. They rattled through the industrial outskirts of the capital, past refinery tanks and banana trees--and then, for no good reason, the train coasted to a stop. In this staccato fashion we rolled along the north coast of Cuba."

Jennie Rothenberg Gritz is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where she edits digital features.

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