A Travellerspoint blog

Driving Miss Sheila

sunny 29 °C

Not everyone knows that James once drove a 1923 taxicab around the historic streets of Bath in England, and even chauffeured actress Joan Collins for a while, so here in Havana he couldn’t resist taking the wheel of this 1961 American beauty with another lovely lady passenger…
But pre-revolution American cars are ten a penny on the streets of this historic city…
And there are even a few old English bangers like this nifty little Morris Minor from the 1950’s…
Today there is no shortage of modern vehicles from Mexico, Japan and Europe, but no Yankee wheels have taken to Cuban streets since the 1962 American embargo following the Missile Crisis. Although many of the old American gas guzzlers have been kept in showroom condition for more than fifty years, (not an easy task considering the tropical airs of the Caribbean), many of them are rust buckets needing some TLC…
It is estimated that there are some two million vintage American cars on the roads of Cuba. However, before you rush down here to snap up a bargain you should be advised that the locals know exactly what their rough diamonds are worth.

While everyone loves riding in the Yankee monsters the most favoured transport along the pedestrianised streets of old Havana are the tricycle rickshaws …
Gaggles of energetic young men gather at each corner and good-naturedly offer inexpensive trips around the town. For longer distances there are numerous bus companies offering a good service on air-conditioned modern coaches, although many of the locals still drive ox-carts and bikes.
Travel for tourists in Cuba is easy and comfortable but travel for locals is a different story. Their ‘buses’ are mainly cattle trucks or semi-trailers, (artics to our English readers), pulling old forty-foot shipping containers filled with wooden benches, or horse-drawn carriages like this ‘Omnibus Nacional’ in Cienfuegos…
The sugar farmers' ox-carts and plows are picturesque, while many people ride horses or in carts. For them it is a hard way of life but for us privileged northerners it is yet another opportunity for James to take the reins in the tobacco fields of the Viñales Valley to drive Miss Sheila…
See you soon - if the horse doesn't bolt.

Posted by Hawkson 15:35 Archived in Cuba

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Oooh - I MUST get to Cuba very soon. Thanks for the nudges!

by Joyce Babula

Lots to learn about how to save rather than throw out. Cuba may be the new us in years to come in many ways. Wish we could extract the need for new and more......
Thank you both for always bringing a balanced view of your travels.

by Sue Fitzwilson

Wow. Looks like a "show and shine" event on Vancouver Island.
Is that horse's ears drawn back? I think that is a sign the beast's going to bolt. Hold on Sheila!

by R and B

love those old cars - to look at anyway. And Miss Sheila should have a chauffeur

by The Vickerage

Lucky Sheila to have James at the wheels!!!

by Jenny Jose

My hail-wounded Volvo would fit right in with these bangers. Great images, as always, and so informative; your descriptive writing makes me want to go there..

by gottfried

Great photos , London double decker bus with clapped out American gas guzzlers and very up to date tour coach parked behind an ox cart.
The Gaunt family have just left after a week, Melton Court and I are in recovery mode .

by Christine Lloyd

Horse drawn buses are a good idea for Cuba. The country is being forced to move away from an oil based economy. They have radically changed their farm management; greatly reducing non organic fertilizers. They don't get much meat, but there is plenty of rum.

by pat Goodeve

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