The Hell of Traveling to the “Interior” / Leon Padron Azcuy

National Bus Terminal, Havana, photo by author.

HAVANA, Cuba, September 25, 2013, Leon Padron / In the new “Cuba Says” segment on the TV National News, they addressed the problem of transportation. But it was not a simple confrontation between between some critics among the people and the accustomed triumphalism of the officials.

The Transport Ministry officials insisted that the minibus cooperatives, at a price of five Cuban pesos, have improved transportation in the capital. But they didn’t even remotely address the torments of those who have to travel to the interior of the country.

The national bus and train terminals are always crowded with anxious travelers, prisoners of inefficiency, delay and corruption. The ticket resellers have tickets at four times the official price.

The waiting list

La Coubre is  located near the avenue of the port, where travelers headed for the eastern provinces converge without reservations. The embarkation depends on the faults at the national bus terminal, for those who have to put their names on a long waiting list.

Interior of the station. Photo by author

It is here where stoicism is put to the test, because sometimes people have to wait for whole days, sitting on the floor, or standing, with the worst filth, great heat, and a persistent clamor that is only comparable to the torments of hell.

At La Coubre I met a man from Holguin who for two years has come to the capital every month for his son’s medical treatment, because of lack of equipment in the hospital in his town. When I asked him how he arranged these trips, he said he sometimes he spends more than eight hours waiting for passage to Holguin and has to sleep on the floor with his sick child.

Chinese Buses

Nearly nine years ago, the Cuban authorities acquired a batch of Yutong buses in Chine, which improved inter-provincial transportation service. Today the reality is different. Most of these buses are out of service. Armando, a driver who covers the Havana-Moa route, told Cubanet, “These buses turned out pretty good, working without maintenance and without spare parts,” adding, “When I heard them talk about transportation on TV, I thought they would mention that the drivers, when the cars breakdown, we have to pay, from our own pockets, for the maintenance and the parts if we want to continue.”

Leon Padron Azcuy,

From Cubanet

25 September 2013