Photo courtesy of Peter

Last Friday, I had to leave to run some errands, all in Havana Vieja (old Havana) and fortunately in the same area.

We left at 1:00 in the afternoon, with enough time, because the primary appointment was at 2:00.  Our old Lada refused to continue running when we were halfway up the street.  We had to move it onto the sidewalk on Carlos III and push it down the side street where they told us we could find a mechanic. There I left Fernando taking care of the problem.  I return to the avenue to look for an old communal taxi, that for 10 Cuban pesos would take me as close as possible to my destination.  All those that passed by were going to the Capital building.  Once there, I saw a bicycle taxi and I hired it.  It was the first time I had done it.

I told the driver of the vehicle that I didn’t want to him to be offended, but that until today, propelled by a great need, I had refused to use this means because I found it inhumane. I added that before 1959, on my planet I never used human traction. I had seen that it was very common in some countries of the Middle East, India, Thailand, and others, but not here.

Talking with him, about how many hours per day he did this work and what his food was like, he told me that he had had to reduce his working hours and set aside one or two days a week to take a break, because he was beginning to suffer from back and kidney pains. That he had decided that he felt so bad that money couldn’t change his health, but on the other hand he had a family to support.

Upon arriving at my destination, the street he took was blocked by some enormous tow-truck and it was blocking us from going around it. I decided to get down and walk the rest of the way so that he didn’t have to make some big detour and take me to the agreed upon place.  The young person thanked me for it, I felt relieved when I got out of the bici-taxi.

Translated by: BW

June 6 2011

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