Sunday, 3 April 2016

The Inevitable Cars of Cuba

One of the star attractions in Cuba is of course the antiquity – the fact is, the country has suffered under trade embargoes since shartly after the revolution in 1959.

To us, the Western visitor, the sight of row upon row of 50’s American limousines cruising the Malecon seafront is like being in a movie set. All those film noir productions with Bogey and Bacall driving cars the size of the average living room.

To Cubans it’s a symbol of their plight – being stuck in limbo while powers far more aggressive than their own government try to change their way of life through embargoes and other forms of political skulduggery.

Politics aside, these vehicles not only provide the locals with cheap taxi rides across town, but also the promise of much needed hard currency in a nation that is only now considering free enterprise as a way to generate income for the masses. You can hire car and driver for about $30-40 for an hour. I think this is good value – a taxi to Sydney airport from where I live costs about $60 and chances are the driver speaks worse English than a Cuban…

Anyway, most of the cars seen here are hybrid – not because they generate electricity, but, because there have been no spares available for 57 years, they comprise a mix of different bits pirated from other vehicles; diesel, petrol, Japanese, Ford, Kia, you name it, it’s thrown together to keep the vehicles going. When you start editing images of these cars, especially ones shot and HDR’d, you notice that no one panel is the same colour as another. One of the car images here looks as if the bodywork have been repaired with 10 different types of paint and body filler, the result more patchwork quilt than seamless paint job.

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