Cuba travelogue: getting around

So given that only about 2% of Cubans own a car, and that there is no dedicated city-to-city transit system (a la Greyhound busses or Amtrak in the U.S.), how do Cubans get from place to place?

Well, basically, it’s not easy.


In rural areas, people can make do with more-traditional approaches — you’ll see a lot of semi-modern carriages drawn by horses out here.  I’m guessing this works pretty well for trips into town from farms in the hinterlands.

If you want to get from town to town, though, the old school approach just won’t do. Maybe you’ve got an office job, more likely you don’t own a horse or there’s just no place to “park” a horse when you’re working. To handle situations like this, any government-owned vehicle (as you may recall, these have blue bars on their license plates) is required to give waiting people a ride along the way.

Transit stop

This policy is enforced at road-side transit stops (which look much like city bus stops), by government workers wearing mustard-colored uniforms. You’ll notice that they’re carrying clipboards so they can duly note how many passengers get on what vehicles (and more importantly, if any government-owned vehicles don’t stop to help out).

Short line

Thanks to their uniform, the local nickname for these workers is “amarillos,” from the Spanish word for “yellow.”

Commuter special

There do seem to be some official vehicles dedicated to the task of moving people from city to city — but I got the impression that most (if not all) of them are improvised, and definitely aren’t made for comfort.

All aboard!

Many (if not most) of these vehicles don’t have seats, and the windows (when provided) appear to be something a North American would normally see in an RV or mobile home.  Given the tropical climate and the vehicles’ lack of air conditioning, I’m guessing the windows are seen as being good enough.

Improvised Transit

At the very least, an improvised transport is likely a more-comfortable option than sharing a ride on whatever sort of truck is available.


In town, bicitaxis are all over the place (I’m guessing, but had no way of checking, that they’re a cheaper ride than motorized taxis).

Bicitaxis in Camaguey

These, by the way, are the more up-market models oriented toward tourists (the locals ride cheaper ones without roofs or padding on the seats.