Friday, October 21, 2011
Old Cars and Cuban Cigars
When most Americans think of Havana, they picture cigars and old cars. Or, at least I did. I was not disappointed by the old cars. As soon as we walked out of the airport, there they were. Some were just used as taxis and some enterprising Cubans had figured out that nothing lured a tourist more than a red and white 1957 Chevrolet convertible. And, for a small fee, you could be chauffeured in style. Our driver had a late model air conditioned small size vehicle. However, after choking on the fumes of the vintage Detroit models and Russian Ladas, it was a welcome relief. And, as I commented to our British friends at dinner, I would much rather photograph and look at them than ride in one.
Then there were the Russian Ladas. These reminded us of Push me - Pull yous (of Dr. Do-Little Fame). They looked the same coming and going and comprise probably 30% of the cars on the road in Cuba.
As for the cigars, they were everywhere. They were hawked on the street, although you were warned that those could be of poor quality. And, tours of cigar factories were popular, although it wasn't on our agenda. Each bar had a humidor, for their patrons pleasure - at a price. Ironically, we did not see many Cubans smoking them, Luis being the exception.
With all the old cars on the road (and other modes of transportation I'll get to later) every once in a while a late model slender BMW, sleek sports car, or large late model American made SUV would go by and suddenly time was truly warped. It did not go unnoticed. What is wrong with this picture? Once again, it is a land of conundrums -1959 lost in the future.