Monday, August 22, 2016

Polski power

The little Polish-built Fiat 126p will go a long way on a litre.
   AN ASSOCIATED PRESS report in the Washington Post suggests that the Polski Fiat 126p is enjoying a "revival" in Cuba. I don't recall the tiny, Polish-built Fiat ever falling out of favour.
   Still, with Cuba's once-cheap black market diesel fuel shooting up in price because of Venezuelan cutbacks, it's not hard to see how the 126p, with frugal air-cooled two-cylinder engine, could gain added allure.
   The Polski Fiat was produced from 1973 through 2000 in Bielsko-Biała in south Poland. Cuba has some 10,000 Polskis, according to the article.

The 126p has long been an everyday sight in Cuba.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Fidel Castro is 90. This bus is not much younger

Public transportation in Santiago de Cuba.
   IN A LETTER released on his 90th birthday this past Saturday, Fidel Castro paid tribute to the advances that let him continue to contemplate the ways of the world ... and beyond.
   "Modern medical techniques have allowed me to scrutinize the universe," he wrote.
   For passengers on this 1958 Mercury truck converted into a people-carrier in Santiago, the view is less extensive.

Rebadged Ford pickups and medium-duty trucks were sold as
Mercurys in Canada 
 and also shipped to Cuba. 

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Mass transit in Cuba's Second City

An International truck hauls passengers in Santiago de Cuba.
    HAVANA ANCHORS Cuba's northwest coast; Santiago, the island's next largest city, holds a similar status on the southeast shore. The two cities differ hugely – in terrain (one largely flat; one all hills), in climate (one temperate; one hot), in culture (Havana is hardly sedate, but Santiago, with its Afro-Caribbean roots, has a sensual sway).
   In transportation, too. The standard municipal bus in Havana is a modern articulated Yutong from China. In Santiago – as in rural Cuba – converted American trucks from the 1950s are the primary people movers.

Seating is tight on the makeshift bus. So is standing.