I promised a post on my trip to Cuba in January. Here it goes.
If can manage to get there, I highly recommend it. Cuba is a strange and wonderful place to visit. My wife and I signed up for a 8 day, 7 night culinary tour. Why a tour? It’s just easier that way, and legal that way. There are limitations on why and how you can go to Cuba as a U.S. citizen. We were part of a “people to people” tour. That’s one of the listed justifications that’ll get you a travel visa.
So what did we see there? Old cars? YES! Lots of them. They’re not just old American models either. Jalopnik ran a story a bit ago about all this. Honestly, Mr. Harper’s pictures are better than mine, but whatever.
We got picked up from the airport in this beauty.
All week we were transported in some pretty cars. As you might expect, engines don’t last forever. The 1957 Chevrolet Bel-Air wagon powered by a Mercedes diesel was one of the best looking cars around. Here’s a pic with our driver Leo.
Perhaps the most comfortable vehicle we rolled around in was the 1952 International powered by a Hino diesel. I think this is a Travelall, but I’m not 100% confident.
I was really intrigued by the Soviet cars. There are so many Lada 2107 models around. I think that’s the most common car in the country. Of course there are plenty of Moskivich and Volga cars too. For trucks, it’s mostly Soviet stuff, you name it, Kamaz, ZIL. The busses are almost all Chinese Yutong.
The pic above is a taxi line in the old city of Havana. It’s pretty close to where the cruise ships dock. Consequently, there are a lot of pretty cars.
Speaking of taxis, there is something I haven’t seen anywhere else but Havana. The coco taxi. It’s a three wheeled vehicle that seats a driver and two passengers, or three if you squish. It reminds me of a tuk tuk, but having the silly round shape that gives it the coconut theme.
This one’s pretty. I didn’t get all the info, but the color is something else. If you haven’t noticed, bright colors are all over the place in Cuba.
The Fiat 126 is also pretty common. a lot of these things have the rear hatch propped open about 6". I guessed that they have some overheating issues.
Here’s a shot of the Malecon. It’s just a waterfront thoroughfare that shows up in a lot of Cuba pictures and shows. This pic could’ve been taken on any day of any week. It’s absolutely not rare to see this much old iron on the street.
I hear the Fate of the Furious has a scene shot there. The guide also told us Vin Diesel bought a car in Cuba and wasn’t initially allowed to take it out of the country. Like all things, a pile of money solved the issue. Then again, it could’ve just been a rumor.
New Yorkers think they do jaywalking better than anyone. They’re wrong. Cubans have them beat entirely. I don’t just mean residents of the cities either. That guy in the middle of the street is just walking there, and the cars are not stopped. They’re moving along and not slowing down.
Jaywalking is a thing everywhere in Cuba. Right out to the rural multilane highway. It’s so common to share the road with cars, trucks, pedestrians, bicycles, horse-drawn carts that most drivers don’t want to drive in rural areas at night.
If you have the means, go to Cuba. It’s pretty fantastic. Get there before Walmart does. Even though the embargo is largely still in place, and that is hurting people there, it has become a country like to other.