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.
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.
In Centro Habana, well off the path for most tourists, Yulaime lives with her husband and three children on the ground floor of a seven story building. This floor has no windows, is all concrete, and has high ceilings. It appears as if it were at one time a parking area. To reach her home requires a long walk down a dark corridor past the doors of where several other families live.
Yulaime’s husband does not work. She earns a few pesos by selling shots of very strong, hot coffee and loose cigarettes late at night.
Old men can still be found picking cans from the trash.
Flattening them allows more cans to fit in the re-purposed nylon bags that once transported rice from China or Vietnam.
A full bag will net a Cuban about five pesos or the cost of a shot of cafe at a home cafeteria.
Simple things can provide genuine enjoyment and funny moments.
Bring some balloons and make a big deal out of blowing them up. You know, the old Tom Sawyer and the fence white-washing scene. (You tell them they cannot possibly blow up these balloons and they will tell you that they can.) Soon you’ll have a crowd of children and some adults wanting to get in on the fun.
Easy start with his hat on.
Soon realizes the difficulty and loses his hat.
Expressions are priceless.
Confidence. “I got this”
The hat goes back on.
Husband and wife
Their son actually has an easier time.