|Celia Sánchez's 1959 Oldsmobile, right, and Camilo Cienfuegos’s 1960 Olds 88.|
“Of course,” I begin to reply, until my brain catches up with my vocal process. “Er ... I think ... ”
Women must drive cars in Cuba. I recall that Karina, for instance, a character in Leonardo Padura’s Havana Gold (original title: Vientos de Cuaresma), buzzes around in a government-issued Lada.
I look through my photos for real-life proof. No women drivers. I study hundreds of images in the Facebook Cars of Cuba group. Just one driver is recognizably female. She’s operating a three-wheel Coco taxi.
M., a frequent visitor to Cuba, confirms that nearly all the drivers he sees on the island are male.
So is this a Latin thing, a motorway machismo? R., recently returned from Sao Paulo, tells me women do own cars in Brazil, even if they are rarely seen driving. “I only noticed it once,” he adds. “A blond lady was blasting past in a Renault and a guy was in the passenger seat. It looked weird and out of place.”
But wait. Cuban revolutionary heroine (and Fidel Castro companion) Celia Sánchez drove a 1959 Oldsmobile, a green Super 98 Holiday SportSedan. I saw her car at the Depósito del Automóvil in Havana, parked next to Camilo Cienfuegos’s more prosaic white 1960 Olds 88 sedan.
Wasn’t Sánchez the symbol of the equality women were supposed enjoy in the New Cuba? Shouldn’t she have spurred one million of her sisters to seize the steering wheel?
Another Cuba conundrum, I guess.