Showing posts from April, 2016

Rápido y Furioso in Havana

Ready for a role? A 1953 Ford sedan.     MAJOR LAZER , Barack Obama, the Rolling Stones and now a film crew for the latest Fast & Furious movie – Cuba's capital is having quite the year.    Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez are in Havana and Charlize Theron is expected to arrive soon to shoot the Cuban segment of Fast & Furious 8 , which also will be set in New York and the great street-racing nation of Iceland.    How Cuba will figure into the storyline won't be known until the movie is released in 2017. Judging by earlier instalments of the enormously successful Fast & Furious series , however, we can safely predict that the sequence will include tire smoke, the sound of high-revving engines and various infractions of the laws of  physics.    And, of course, old cars. According to the Havana Times , the producers were in Cuba in late 2015 seeking 1950s American cars for potential use in the movie.    We can be reasonably sure they found some. In Hav

A safe – or at least, not so unsafe – spot for a scooter

Tranquil route skirts the Sierra Maestra mountains east of Santiago.     YES, I RODE a scooter in Cuba again.    And yes, a year ago I warned that this could be dangerous in a country of poor roads and potentially serious consequences should you be in an accident, including not being allowed to leave  until a slow-moving investigation is completed. Similar warnings exist for scooter and moped rentals in Bermuda , Thailand and many other tourist destinations.    Again, my excuse is that the roads I was on – east of Santiago, but not as far as  Guantá namo  Bay – were largely empty but for the occasional horse cart or herd of goats.    And while this year's Orbit II scooter from the Sanyang Motor Co. ran like a sweetheart, a happy contrast to the gummed-up machine I rode last year, its wee 50-cc gas engine still limited my top speed to "relaxed." Horse carts are more common than cars.    I would have liked to have pressed on toward  Guantá namo , but

The Fears of a Clown

The park was deserted, which added to the creepiness.    LOTS OF people are freaked out by clowns.    So pervasive is this specific fear, in fact, it's earned its own pop-psychology name: coulrophobia , which is Greek for "I was never the same after I read that Stephen King book."    If you are coulrophobic, don't ever venture east of Santiago de Cuba along the coastal Carr de Baconao , where this giant clown head stands at the entrance of what appears to be a moribund amusement park.

Rarely immaculate. Always fascinating

Not pristine, but this 1954 Chevrolet sedan is certainly a survivor.     AMERICAN CAR buffs eager to visit Cuba are in for a disappointment, says a countryman who has been to the island.    "The media has everyone believing that Cuba is some kind of classic car mecca," "Derek911" of Long Island, N.Y., writes on a forum for owners of Porsches and other high-end cars.   But most of the vehicles he saw were a hodgepodge of parts from all sources, rather than the "immaculate survivors" he expected.    "You will see better classic cars at a 'cars and coffee' here in the U.S. than you would in Cuba," Derek reports.   His conclusion? "It's interesting to see so many old cars on the road, but that's about it." Hillman Minx is a Series IIIa model from 1959.     Derek's right, of course, about the scarcity of unmolested survivor cars in Cuba.    Still, it's hard to understand how any auto enthusiast wi