In Cuba, public transportation takes many forms. I was able to try most – taxi cabs, coco taxis, horse-drawn wagons, 1950s Ford convertibles, buses in all state of repair, and bicitaxis. While a 50-something Fairlane Skyliner is a classy way to get to the farther beaches near Viñales (more on that later), it was the humble bicitaxi that took us around the bigger cities when our legs tired from all the walking (Havana, for one, is massive). These things are smooth as butter – as long as you get the right one. Your driver (pedaller, actually) will make or break your trip. Either they have the right moves to get you around in one piece or you are jostled like an empty bottle on the high seas. If you are lucky, the speakers will be blasting the right tunes as well.
Fortunately, road users in Cuba are used to sharing and it’s not uncommon for horses, bikes, people and bicitaxis to all occupy the space of a single vehicle at any given time. And it all seems to work. Buses will brake for the old man on the cruiser, taxis will wait for the horse-drawn wagon to pass before turning. Patience seems to be the rule – after all, the more time you take in your journey, the more people you can stop to visit along the way.
Bicitaxi operator, photographed in La Habana Vieja, Cuba, December, 2011.