Usually I don’t bother driving in the wacky countries I visit. Usually the thought of dodging land mines and IED’s puts me off. In Cuba’s case I thought I’d give it a go.
Driving in Cuba looks deceptively simple. The Transport crisis has led to a stunning lack of traffic. Indeed the main mode of transport here is still the horse and cart and hitch-hiking is a national sport. An idiot Australian who’s used to driving on the left can occasionally revert back with little risk of doing damage. I even went around a round-a-bout the wrong way once with no more damage than confused looks from onlookers.
So once you work out which is the; “fast” lane, the slow lane, the horse/donkey/goat/cyclist lane it’s mostly easy going. After dark they all become the drunk lane anyway.
The main difficulty is navigation. Cuban roads are not overly endowed with directional signage or street signs or even advertising (instead there is a plethora of propaganda). Where signs do exist they are often completely wrong or only tell you that you’ve gone the wrong way after the fact, mocking you with Cuban superiority.
Maps are also amusingly vague. Roads that are on the map don’t exist in real life and vice versa. Roads that claim to be major roads on the map often turn out to be little more than dirt tracks. Alternatively, what was a minor road on the map was once a 3 lane each way divided highway with no traffic other than a bullock cart. Granted that highway did suddenly turn back into a dirt track with no warning.
Smartarses who say “get a GPS” soon find that they are illegal here not that you can get Cuban maps for them anyway. Also that smart phone we all have with Google maps loaded doesn’t work due to the lack of internet.
All in all, Driving in Cuba is an adventure I’d recommend to anyone with a good sense of direction (highly recommend a smart girlfriend as co-pilot) and a lot of patience.