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Showing posts from November, 2009

A year of driving dangerously

Has it already been 12 months? Time does fly (unless you live in Cuba).
   Given, however, that CARISTAS has already survived longer than most of these Internet efforts – can’t bring myself to use the B-word, Blogspot web address or not – I must confess to a modest measure of pride.    And to a modest measure of readers, according to the analytics software that tells me how many people are visiting, where they live, what pages they are looking at, what their search terms are, and so on. But traffic, if not stunning, has been steady, and it’s fun to learn where visitors are coming from and what they’re looking for.    So guy (girl? company?) in Peru who downloads every photo I post – I’m glad you like them. (But if I find out you’re using them for some commercial purpose, I’m telling the ’net cops.)
   U.S. State Department? Haven’t seen you since the administration changed.       Coincidence?   Coco taxi fans in Latvia, Australia, India and Parsippany, New Jersey – I promise to learn m…

10 Tips for Driving In Cuba

DON'T DO it, some sites warn. The roads are terrible. You’ll hit a cow and be forced to remain on the island – in a beachfront room? – until you pay the government thousands of dollars. (Update: Yes, in a beachfront room, it turns out, but you'll have to pay for it). Stick to resort buses and licensed taxis, advises the Canadian Foreign Affairs department. “Avoid driving in Cuba, as driving conditions can be hazardous,” it declares here.
   I say, if you’ve driven in Vancouver or Sudbury or Montreal – let alone Europe or Asia –you’ll do fine in Cuba. The pace is relaxed, your fellow road-users are courteous, and traffic ranges from moderately busy (Havana) to where-is-everyone? light (most other places).
   Plus, in your rental car, you can set your own route and timetable, and you’ll meet interesting people along the way.
   Of course, in a country like nowhere else, some aspects of driving are bound to be different. So to avoid that extended stay in an oceanview suite – which,…

Some are classic to the core

NOT ALL Cuban classics hide Soviet engines or European differentials under their picturesque body lines. Some owners manage to keep their old rides near-original – an amazing achievement, considering the challenges of car maintenance in Cuba. Here are two largely unmolested examples from the revolico.com site.


   This “impeccable” 1934 Ford sedan is available only because of the death of its long-time owner, the seller asserts. Apart from wheels and tires that are obvious later additions, this could be a twin to the ’34 Ford in which Bonnie and Clyde’s bank-robbing careers came to a sudden end. Billed as 95-per-cent original, the Cuban Ford comes with extra piston rings and other parts. The listed price is 15,000 CUC ($ 17,356 Cdn.), but “we can negotiate if you are really interested.”

In the U.S., a cherished old Harley-Davidson like this 1946overhead-valve Knucklehead could bring $30,000 or more, its owner says. He’s asking 13,000 CUC ($15,051 Cdn.) and don’t you wish ... Anyway, some…

More from Cuba’s Craiglist

Remember, you can’t buy these cars. Heck, even most Cubans supposedly can’t buy these cars, as discussed in this post and this followup.
   But it’s still fun to look.

   Robertico is asking 8,500 CUC ($9,841 Cdn.) for this 1959 Buick, which looks like a Le Sabre or an Invicta. He’s also willing to trade for a ’55 or ’56 Chevrolet, but then, who wouldn’t be? Not that the Buick, with the floating hardtop roof that was a distinctive styling element of General Motors cars of that year, isn’t handsome. Looks to have its fair share of body filler, though.


   This is a 1956 Rambler "American" (actually a Custom, Super or De Luxe) with Volga 24 engine, transmission and brakes. Tires are new, and the electrical system was recently replaced. Needs some detailing to look its finest, says the seller, but it runs just great. Yours for 5,500 CUC ($6,368 Cdn.)




Many Cuban cars have Volga running gear; here’s one with Volga everything. Well, almost. The carburetor of this Volga 21 wagon is fr…

Hey lady, you’re in my way

And here, for reference, is what a Fiat 1100 TV Spider looked like new. Sorry I can’t credit the source of this photo, but I’m guessing it would be Fiat.

Look what I found on the Cuban Craigslist

The site’s name is Revolico, but it looks and functions much like Craigslist, the Internet classified ad directory where enterprise longs to be free. You know something like this couldn’t sit well with the authorities. Accordingly, content filters have apparently been installed to block access by Cuban citizens to the marketplace for computer parts, rocking chairs and “chica busco chico.” See the Reuters report here.
   Net-savvy Cubans can still find their way to Revolico, and the owners, who host the site on U.S. servers, might have their own ideas on how to circumvent the filters. Still, given the government’s control of the island’s skimpy Internet service and its disapproval of public displays of capitalism, they’re in for a battle.
   While it lasts, though, it’s a great place for car-watching. Here’s just one trophy, described by its seller as a “Julieta Fiat” but what we would call a Fiat 1100 TV (for Turismo Veloce), circa 1955-59. This model of convertible Fiat is reasonabl…