Showing posts from February, 2009

More cars and critters

The Chevy is a 1958 Biscayne sedan. The chickens look to be 2008s, but I could be wrong.

The evening commute

  Cows (and often horses, too) spend their days tethered along the Cuban roadside, where they keep the shoulders nicely cropped. Here, a farmer brings one of his charges home for the night while a bus stands ready for resort workers who will soon will come off shift.

How to rent a car in Cuba, Part II: That will teach me

Tempt fate, and fate usually responds. A few weeks back (see entry ), I speculated that last year’s rental car would again be waiting for me when I returned to Cuba this month. Naturally, when I approached the agency office, paperwork in hand, no car awaited me. The chagrined-looking clerk asked me to come back in a couple of hours, and even as I was leaving had picked up the phone to Havana. The car arrived as promised and – go figure – was the white Hyundai Accent I had last year, though now with stains on its seats, a few scrapes on its sides and an odometer that read 42,000 kilometres, an increase of 34,000 in 12 months. It still had all its badging – in Cuba, any car nameplate is a trophy – but I noticed that the front Hyundai emblem now was riveted on. Yet even after the passage of a full rental-car year (equivalent to seven years for a private car), the Accent ran fine. The tie-rod ends and front struts rattled a bit – no surprise given the frequent pothole shocks a Cuban car su

Old, new, blue

   We know the classic exteriors of Cuban cars can hide modern – or least more modern – working bits. Updated braking systems with front discs and dual-chamber master cylinders are popular. And some of Cuba’s old cars even have decades-newer engines and transmissions, lifted from European, Soviet or Asian donor vehicles.    What I had not seen until now, however, was a marriage of old and new body panels. I spotted this amalgam last week in the parking lot of Juan G. G√≥mez Airport. It appears to be a fairly new Euro-wagon wearing a front clip that may have come from a late-1950s Austin.    From a distance, it looked pretty good. I wish I could have made a closer inspection, and perhaps learned what story lay behind this blending of eras, but my taxi was waiting.