Isabel plays her trumpet calm before a haphazard riot breaks out, and in the midst of the ruckus is her father. He is being beaten by police for being in the riot and creating previous transgressions. The people of Cuba are starving and the riot was inevitable.
Isabel decides that she and her family must leave. They leave with their next-door neighbors the Castillos. They are trying to immigrate to Florida in a makeshift boat. Isabel was filled with elation when they were allowed on the boat, and to get a jug of gasoline, Isabel had to trade away her cat and trumpet. She was distraught when she has to.
The group heard a broadcast on the television from Fidel Castro mentioning that anyone who wants to escape can escape with no repercussions. When they assembled on the beach, they did so incoherently. The beach was everything but deserted, the entire village and the police force were there. The ocean was rough and made the group want to give up, however, if they wanted to flourish, they would need to get to Florida
When the refugees find out that they are in the shipping lanes, they jostle around each other to get many things working, and every very little movement is pantomimed in the ocean swaying.
Isabel dove down to save Señor Castillo's stagnant almost lifeless body. When she forcibly swam to the ocean surface she was listless and she was unconscious for a while. When she woke up from a bad dream, the ocean was the only thing audible, and Isabel was reminded of her Lita when she drowned during a storm.
The group thinks they got to Florida but they are in the Bahamas, and their boat is almost completely submerged. There is respite when the people there try to lift the group out of the boat, but the Police don't allow the families out. Their odyssey so far has been dramatic and unfortunate, they were met with many challenges.