You might imagine that the streets of Old Havana – like most old towns – are narrow, pot-hole-hazardous and heaving. What you might not know is that the majority are also one-way. Regular taxi drivers roll eyes and purse lips at the prospect of traversing this part of the city and – protective of their tyres – avoid it whenever possible.
Enter, then, Cuba´s version of the most efficient human-powered land vehicle. Other countries may have their rickshaws, velomobiles and cabin cycles but ours is totally a lo cubano. These wonderful Bici-taxis range from the quite basic to more full-blown affairs, the latter adorned with CD players, mirrors, family photos and sparkly bunting. More important, their muscle-bound drivers know exactly how to get you from A to B in one, smiling piece.
Our young, charming (and handsome) chauffeur is called Yonulis and has been peddling Havana´s highways and byways for over 4 years. A former medical student he has slowly – one wheel here, another there – put together this beloved Bici. He´s pretty pleased with the result so far. Plans to upgrade with better seating and a waterproof roof (this one is made of layers of cardboard) will depend solely on his takings. But he´s hopeful. He works hard, the monthly license costs only 350 pesos (approx. 9 gbp) and the rest is his to live on and invest.
It´s not a particularly cheap way to travel. Drivers charge two cucs (sometimes three) to get from the port area to Parque Central – only a couple of kilometers. But it´s worth the money. Weaving in and out of the city´s odd little back streets you see life at very close quarters. It’s also tremendous fun, especially if you find someone like Yonulis to guide you. He offers an hour-long trip for two (around the Old Town) for 10 cucs. If you can´t find him look for any Bici that takes your fancy. Then, negotiate a price, hop in, hang on to your hat and enjoy the ride.
Discover what else Havana has to offer with our guide ‘My Five Favourite Things to do in Havana’. Use the bici-taxi service to travel around the city and experience these activities for yourself.