Sunday, August 5, 2007

Inner Cuba

In Cuba there is a serious transportation problem, becoming more patent in the countryside. We rented a car, which was somewhat difficult due to the offer/demand ratio (we ended up renting a small battered one with no trunk lock for a small discount... given the circumstances it was a sweet deal, all we had to do was park the car with the rear a few inches from a wall... peace of cake!).

Although feeling good as luck had struck us, our mood would soon change: we were all set to find out the real difficulties cubans endure. A little after leaving Havana, we started seeing a lot of people next to some men in yellow jackets. They would wave down passing cars and assign one or more of the waiting persons according to the destination of the stopped car. We were never waved down since rent-a-cars have distinctive license plates and maybe those men have orders not to "bother" tourists. We went through some mixed feelings: we could had stopped if we "really" wanted to help... but we'd like to stick with our selfish plan without any delays or detours. We didn't stop. Not until this woman with her son by the side, visibly tired, hungry and walking on the berm of an isolated dirt road, locked her eyes with ours.

For the fortunate ones, distances are made easier by bicycle, horse chariot or even by car. The majority of cubans though are in for long waiting times or lengthy walks on a daily basis.

Returning to Havana from Viñales via one of Cuba's main freeways is a difficult task, especially at night and under a thunderstorm. There are people walking, bicycling, etc, in both ways. The secret, although not full-proof, is driving on the leftmost lane. A little after pulling over to take this photo, the freeway becomes a one-lane road without any warning sign. Luckily, the gravel slowed us down. We never drove at night again.

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