Cuba: It’s more than cars!

By Muriel J. Smith 

(photos Tricia Curtin and Nancy Zockoll)

cars Indeed, they really are all there, those classic American-made cars of the 1950s. They’re all over the well paved and not so well paved roads of Cuba, and most of them are taxis.

There are thousands of them, all brightly painted, the sun bouncing off shiny chrome; all with their windows down…pre-air conditioning days, remember…their interiors either plush or vinyl cleverly patched or taped to look good, and who knows what under the hoods to keep them purring, or growling gently as they navigate the streets.  The cars presumably date back to the 1950s when they were new, Cuba and the USA were friends, and Cubans enjoyed a middle class status that enabled them to purchase foreign cars.  For good reason, most chose American rather than Russian vehicles, though some of them were also available during ‘the special period,’ the time in the 1960s when Russia was the alleged friend of Cuba. The vehicles have been handed down from father to son, and with an embargo prohibiting the import of car parts, have been kept in running condition through ingenuity and a strange conglomeration of makeshift and re-made parts.  Cuba is on good terms with Venezuela, so fuel for the vehicles is no problem. Nor do they spend a lot of time or effort on repairing windows that no longer rise or close, given those 90 degree sun-filled days.

But there’s so much more to Havana than cars.

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Posted: July 26th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Cuba, Monmouth County News | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Cuba: It’s more than cars!

Five days in Cuba

By Muriel J. Smith

friendships1Perhaps the best solution to the problems between Cuba and the United States is to leave it up to the teenagers. Especially if they are teens like Catherine Curtin of Atlantic Highlands and Ava Zockoll of Bay Head.   Because while negotiations are going on at high levels between the bureaucrats of both nations, and compromise and trade-offs are slowly making it easier for Americans to travel there, 16-year old Catherine, a junior at Red Bank Catholic High School designed a week long stay in Cuba’s capital to interact with Cuban teens on the volleyball court. Eager to join her on the expedition were RBC’s girls’ volleyball team captain Zockoll, Ava’s mother, Nancy, and Catherine’s parents, Dan and Tricia Curtin. And me. The Curtins asked me to accompany them on the trip so I could report it for newspapers and magazines.

Life is certainly good.

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Posted: July 25th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Cuba, Monmouth County News | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Five days in Cuba