Transportation, Communication and Education
Cienfuegos Travel Blog› entry 5 of 11 › view all entries
Havana City has bought job lots of buses from around the world. Some have Dutch signs, some Basque or Korean. There was one in Arriva colours! Big yellow school buses must have come from French Canada- Arretez Ecoliers it says on the back. The city bendibuses are like the Northern Line in the rush hour.
Over the harbour in Casablanca, the Hershey train goes - allegedly- 5 times daily to Matanzas. It is a 60 year old overhead electric railway, originally built by the US sweet giant, Hershey, to take workers to his huge sugar mill. The midday train arrived 40 minutes late. An engineer went round the whole 3 carriages making adjustments to the wheels, brakes, electrics. He'd turned off the current from a simple lever on a telegraph pole. The platform is a couple of concrete mounting blocks.
Cycle taxis ply the streets, rather better engineered than Indian rickshaws. They are used a lot by Cubans.
The kids are beautifully turned out in school uniform - red or light brown trousers/ skirts, white shirts and red or blue kerchiefs for the young ones. Candida told us that many in years 10 - 12 board outside Havana Monday to Friday. All expenses are paid by the state - they can study for the A level equivalent away from the "city distractions". We saw dozens of smartly uniformed teenagers carrying a supply of white shirts on hangers and protected in plastic bags boarding their school buses outside the Capitolio on Sunday night to set off.
Candida has a daughter in Germany. On our last morning with her, she'd plugged in her laptop and was skypeing her daughter. We guess this is probably still very unusual. It is actually rare to see even a mobile in use in the street.
So we set off to Cienfuegos in our plush air conditioned tourist Volvo coach along the main Autopista Nacional. Pretty well maintained, there's minimal traffic. At important junctions cycle taxis and horse drawn carts wait to take people into towns. Others hitch towards Havana. The countryside is lush with palms, bananas and sugar cane. We occasionally pass farms and men on horseback, and a few herds of cows. We turned off the Autopista through villages of clapboard or concrete houses, often with people on rocking chairs on the veranda. Then we reach Cienfuegos, and Anita meets us off the bus. She's lively, friendly and has a fine house about 5 minutes from the centre. Same price for B and B as Candida - about 18 pounds a night.