It’s not Uber, it’s not Lyft and it’s not to be confused with the 40 cuc/hr. tourist taxis that surround Parque Central. It’s Havana’s own shared taxi system.
It’s a cheap, quick way for Cubans to get where they need to go without waiting in line and fighting for a seat on a bus.
If you want to go to Miramar or Playa Santa Maria, no problem.
One of several “pit bosses” will direct you to a taxi that’s going your way. The catch is that you have to wait until the taxi is full before the driver will leave. This, of course, ensures the driver that it will be a profitable trip.
There are several collection points around the city where taxis come and go all day long.
When it rains in Havana, like any other tropical location, it pours. Good things happen, though. The rain is channeled off roofs and washes the streets; helping to eliminate the smell of garbage, dog waste, and the stuff that oozes out of some buildings.
The rain also provides a chance for children to play and cool off.
Sometimes the simplest things bring the biggest smiles. I gave this man a Ford decal for his convertible. He loved it.
Yunai is 40 years old and has no job. She shares a space on the second floor with her mother and father. Her parents sleep in a loft above the main room. They have a bathroom with shower, but again, no running water. Water is pumped at night into a storage barrel in the kitchen. This water is used to flush the toilet and to bathe. Drinking water must be hauled up the stairs in large jugs.
Once beautiful marble stairs lead to the second floor.
A long corridor to her home.
The main room showing the stairway to the loft.
A doorway to the outside balcony provides light and fresh air.
I got caught peering down this long dark corridor from the sidewalk. He was sitting across the narrow street trying to sell some clothes. All he said was “come with me” or some such Spanish phrase. I followed him down the corridor until it opened up into a courtyard. He pointed to one of the doors at the top of the two sets of stairs and said “my house”. He wanted to show me where he lived, although we did not enter his dwelling. I also saw where his neighbors lived below and beside him, behind the maze of walls and doors that defined their own living space.
I never got his name.
Sonia is 55 and lives alone next to Bube on the second floor of a once beautiful building.
A court yard open to the sky.
Concrete walls and cheap ceiling tiles
Kitchen area with bathroom to the side
Bube is 40 years old and lives with her husband. They have one daughter. All three sleep in one bedroom. They cook with gas and have a bathroom, but no running water.