26 January 2009
Cuba Today: Getting Around Havana Part One
Probably the cheapest way to get around Havana is to hop on a camel. That's what these weird and wonderful contraptions are known as, on account of their two humps. They are pulled by the cab unit from an articulated lorry and today most of the city's bus routes are covered by them.
You will hear stories that they are always full to overflowing, but as you can see from this photo, that is not the case. They get full when people are travelling to and from their work, but at other times they travel half empty.
The only slight problem that you have is that they are not supposed to carry tourists, but if your Spanish is up to it, then you can get a camel ride.
Most of your journeys within Havana will probably be on foot, given that the city isn't very big. That said, if it is late at night and you are a bit sloshed from all that Cuban rum that you have been poring down your neck, a cheap way to get around is on one of the bike-taxis.
These contraptions shouldn't take you either, since the government wants all tourists to travel in more expensive vehicles, but most of the riders will take you after dark. Obviously you will have to pay in convertible pesos, unlike the locals who pay in the regular kind, but you're a tourist so stop complaining.
The charge is by negotiation and the rider will try and get as much out of you as he can. Expect to pay about £1.00 per mile travelled - and it is up to you to have a rough idea of how far things are and to negotiate the cost before you climb aboard.
Coming up next: the ways in which the Cuban government wants you to travel around Havana.