Cuba is certainly on the bucket list of many Americans. For Canadians, Germans and citizens of virtually every other nation a visit to Havana is no big deal. But now that the door is open just a little bit for US citizens, Tanya and Jay had to go. Though our visit was much too short, we got a feeling of how warm and proud the Cuban people are. In terms of economic development, Cuba is about where one might imagine it would be after enduring a US embargo that has been in effect since 1962. But Cubans we talked to spoke with pride about their free education, health care, housing and even free funerals. Compared to much of the rest of the Caribbean, and of course, US cities, Havana is very safe to walk at night. Most folks don’t own a car so transportation is via shared rides, buses, taxi or horse-drawn carts.
Since no new US cars have been imported since the embargo was imposed, 1950s and early 60s cars are everywhere. Of course, other than the body, most of the mechanical components have been replaced by parts either from other cars, fabricated or smuggled in through other countries. Our ride for the day was a beautiful red 1960 Buick Invicta convertible owned by our driver, Alex’s, father. There were occasional stops to check the transmission fluid level and sometimes we weren’t sure if we would make it up an incline, but overall it was a terrific way to see Havana.