After five wonderful days in Havana, it was time to head south to Trinidad. As much as I absolutely loved Havana, I was really looking forward to seeing the countryside. I chose a nice seat up front in our bus so I could get a bird’s eye view of the passing tobacco and sugar plantations and the nostalgic fields of southern Cuba.
It was a beautiful and quite eventful drive. We headed south with a stop at Playa Larga and the Bay of Pigs before ending just in time for sunset and an ocean swim at our hotel outside of Trinidad.
After we left Havana, the first thing I noticed was the lines and lines of people standing around in groups alongside the highway. Curious, I asked Abel our Cuban tour leader why so many people were standing alongside the road, some in packs and others alone. He told me about the immense challenges of getting around Cuba. These people alongside the roads and highways were waiting for a free ride to most likely visit family and friends in the provinces.
As the economy collapsed over a million Cubans fled the countryside and moved to Havana seeking jobs. Unfortunately the government could not keep up and today there remains a huge shortage of bus service for Havana’s 11.4 million residents. Cars are so expensive that most Cubans do not have them so they are forced to take whatever mode of transportation they can find to get out of the big cities and into the smaller cities throughout Cuba’s provinces.