Friday, December 23, 2016, 16:45
Today we travelled from Trinidad to La Habana. We hired a car at 25 CUCs each, no more than the cost of a bus ride. The advantages are numerous: first, the driver picks you up and drops you off at your door; secondly, it is usually faster than the bus; and thirdly, one does not have to go to the station a few days ahead of time to reserve a place on the bus.
Usually, in small touristy cities, like Trinidad, one is approached by guys who match you up with a car going to your destination. A price is negotiated, and the driver comes to your house or hotel at the agreed upon hour. Unless they don’t like what happened to us in Holguien. The driver was over an hour and a half late! We finally gave up and rushed to the bus terminal to take the bus.
Today we were promised an American car big enough for seven although we are only five, they had a single traveller joining us. I imagined some kind of small van. Well, only about 30 minutes late, a big old 1957 Chevrolet arrived at the door. It had three bench seats and was quite ample although the bags had to go on the roof. It even had newly installed air-conditioning. The driver told me the motor was a Hyundai.
Everything went quite well. We stopped along the way at a house off the road to buy “black-market” gas. The car did not have a working odometer, but the driver told me he knew how fast we were going, more or less. Actually, I don’t think we ever went over 80 kilometres per hour. It had a pretty hard time passing other vehicles, and many more modern cars passed us.
About one hour outside of Havana, the motor started making funny noises… so the driver stopped in a gas station. He decided he couldn’t go on, and asked any car which was filling up if they could take some extra passengers.
Fortunately, he found an empty taxi (with two bench seats) going back to Havana. Money exchanged hands, but we didn’t have to pay any extra. We were lucky that the new driver was from Havana, so he found our “casas particulares” without too much difficulty.
Jessie’s, Patrick’s, and Emma’s place was a bit of a problem though as the address which they obtained through Airbnb was incorrect. In true Cuban style, another owner of a casa particular called the owner and directed us to the next street over.
It seems to me that these incidents show how kind, accommodating, and outgoing the Cubans are.
This is a picture of Emma lounging on the car we took to the beach, yesterday and the day before.