To Havana - Flags, buses, cars & more!

Fri 30 Dec 2011 02:53
Havana is about a 40 minute bus ride from the marina and we managed to catch a free ride on one of the modern buses China has given to Cuba, which left twice daily from the hotel opposite the marina.
Of course everyone knows about the existence of 1950’s cars in Cuba and we saw plenty of them in many states of repair!  Many had been patched up and given new engines and wheels, but others were rotting!  Rather than waiting for the return bus, we often hailed one of the old Lada non-tourist taxi’s to get us back from Havana to the marina. Once a price had been agreed, you didn’t have to think too much before getting into one, but nevertheless it was always an experience; occasionally we would be choked by the incoming fumes through the door that wouldn’t close properly, or see the road whizzing by, through the rusting floor, but rarely did we get a ride without the car seat springs sticking into ‘unmentionable’ parts! 
One of the ‘posh’ buses donated by the Chinese, which took us into Old Havana
The obligatory double decker red tourist bus, which we used to explore many of the sights in and around Havana
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Parking attendants are abundant, although all they seem to do is guide you into an on or off road parking spot.  A lookout box, which we saw at most road junctions
Here is a type of “tuc-tuc” a modern car and a typical 1950’s car
More of the ‘old’ style 1950’s cars
On our bus ride into old Havana we skirted around the Malecon, which runs for over 3 miles and built to keep the Atlantic Ocean out of Havana. The Malecon is now largely used by promenaders, but on stormy days the Atlantic smashes plumes of spray across the road. The facades of the buildings lining the Malecon are a decaying testament to the power of the sea, but are now being extensively restored.
The newly weds seemed to be enjoying their ride along the Malecon
Nearby the Malecon, where police keep you moving is the Plaza de la Dignidad, opened in April 2000 and held the first of many anti-American demonstrations. As of May 2006, the plaza includes a stage, metal arches over the crowd area, and a monument of 138 flags, in response to and as an obstruction of the American electronic message ticker on the fifth floor of the U.S. Interests building situated across the street. Apparently, the relationship between the monument and the ticker board is not coincidental, as evidenced by the flags' appearance less than a month after the billboard’s first use and raised on 20 metre flagpoles they are high enough to block the ticker's visibility.

The number and design of the flags were to memorialise Cuban victims of terrorism, especially the 73 people who died in the 1976 bombing of a Cuban passenger airliner.


The ‘Wall of flags in the Plaza de Dignidad

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Motorbike and sidecar -  still a popular means of transport in Cuba!
Yes, they even have modern ambulances!
The ‘egg’ taxi’s are my favourite and they look like they’re made of out ‘papier-mache’ (perhaps they are?)
Even an old fashioned truck, which looked brand new