Today was billed as a major driving day - 150 miles. It did take most of the day with some interesting stops along the way. We drove the main east - west road in Cuba. It was two-lane with no shoulders. We slowed down regularly waiting to pass horse drawn vehicles. If more Cubans owned cars or motorcycles this drive could have been a real nightmare, but since hardly anyone does, we cruised along at just under 50mph. Today's drive highlighted a major problem Cuba needs to overcome. Transportation. There isn't any. No one owns a car, the trains haven't been maintained since the 1950's and break down regularly. Most people try to take the bus, but there aren't enough of them. People stand and wait in huge throngs and push and shove to get on. Much worse than the train loaders in Tokyo. Nearly every vehicle is owned by the government. People in yellow uniforms are stationed in strategic spots to flag down such vehicles when someone needs a ride and make them take another passenger. People wait at major intersections waving peso bills in their hands in the hopes that someone will stop for them. Many desperate folks waved their money at us as we went by, until they could see that this was a bus full of pampered tourists. Hitchhiking is common. There were potty stops along the way. The toilets have an attendant that hands you paper for a coin. She keeps the toilets clean and decorates with plastic flowers for ambience. You could get a coffee or snack at the rest stop, too. I was thinking about buying a calendar there as a souvenir until I noticed it was from 2016.
We stopped in Sancti Spiritus for lunch at a private restaurant. The chef was so proud of her place and came out to shake all our hands. She cooked a multi course meal wearing high heels and a chef hat. There were some magnificent buildings in the town square, painted in bright primary colors. Crowds of people were waiting to get inside the store which sells wi if cards. Every card only lasts an hour and yesterday's hotel ran out of them over the weekend. We went to the market where cuts of meat were laid out right on the counter. Flies hovered nearby. The vegetables sold here were probably fine to eat, but were covered in dirt and look unappealing. Marketing hasn't caught on here yet.
Every so often we come upon an old 50's vintage American car and all the men in our group who are of similar vintage go bananas. We saw a great looking '56 Chevy with a Toyota Diesel engine.