Following the railroad in Cuban Granma province
Originally uploaded by mgharris
I was delighted to see today on Flickr that someone favourited this photo. My husband David snapped this from a Viazul tourist bus as we crossed Cuba. He kindly took lots of photos of what you see of Cuba as you cross from West to East; Havana to Santiago de Cuba. This was so that when I came to write the relevant sections of Project Jaguar, I would be able to recall the images and atmosphere of this country.
Maybe I was asleep or watching the movie because I didn't actually witness this scene myself so I'm even more grateful that he caught it. This captures the essence of how tough it is for Cubans to travel around in Cuba. Most people in Havana that we spoke to had never been to the other side of the island. And people in Santiago would tell us, "I went to Havana once, about twenty years ago." (It's not like in the UK where people are too busy going to Mallorca to go to London - they can't go anywhere - it costs too much!)
Few people own a car, those who do tend to own cars that are too clapped out to get far without breaking down and of course there's nothing like the RAC if you do. On the major roads you find small crowds of hitchhikers gathered under bridges, despondently waving money bills at passing private cars but mainly goods lorries. There's no such thing as a free ride.
These hitchhikers aren't game young students; ther are people of all ages, often with small children in tow.
I wonder where this woman in the photo is going with her two little ones. Waiting for a freight train to give her a lift? I wonder how long it took to get there.