Without any doubt, the most frequent question that we’ve gotten since returning from our trip to Cuba is, “Did you see many old cars?” We saw old cars–lots of them!
In the U.S., we think of transportation as a general right, with the expectation that transportation is easily available. That did not appear to be the case in Cuba. Transportation there included walking, horseback, horse and buggy, oxen and buggy, people movers (transport trucks, sort of), motor cycles, and anything else that could get a person from one place to another. In this post, I am going to include LOTS of pictures of the old cars, but will also include pictures of the other forms of transportation that we saw.
There were lots of 1940’s and 1950’s era American cars, but we also saw some old Soviet-built cars. There were also some modern cars, mostly Toyotas. We were told that most of the old American cars have Russian engines and tires made in China. There was no such thing as emissions standards or fuel efficiency! Most of the old cars have been brightly repainted numerous times; car owners take pride in their cars. License plate numbers begin with letters that indicate the vehicle’s use: B = bus or business, P = private, T = taxi or tourism, D = diplomat, etc. Here are just a few of the many old cars that we saw…
It was not unusual to see cars with their hoods up, with several engine-observers looking in.
Several people have asked about road conditions and the price of gas. Road conditions vary quite a bit. There are a few four lane roads. Many roads are paved with good asphalt and others are riddled with potholes. Some roads in the country are a mix of worn asphalt and dirt or are just dirt. In the country, there was often a worn wide path beside the road. We discovered that farmers often pull loads by sled and oxen and use the paths rather than the road.
We never saw gas prices posted and didn’t think to ask the question about the price of gas. But, since everything is government-owned, we assume that the government sets the price and that is just what it costs. Since every family did not appear to own cars, we are not sure whether gas is allocated with government vouchers or is purchased with cash. Gas stations looked similar to those with which we are accustomed.
One of the oddest things to us was the number of people walking along the roads or waiting along the sides of busier roads. People wait until a transport-type truck comes by to pick them up. Any sort of large truck seemed to be used. In Havana, we did see old city buses being used, but more often we saw people-movers like those in the pictures below.
Lots of people walk to get from place to place, but there were many, many other options! Sometimes we were not fast enough to get the picture, but from the images below, you will get the idea.
If all goes as planned, in the next post I will tell you a little about the farming practices that we saw!