Each day in Havana we awoke at 6:15 to get a glimpse of the city waking up. On the first morning, we explored the colorful neighborhood just to the north and east of the Parque Central Hotel as outlined by the Prado (Paseo de Marti), San Lazaro (which parallels the Malecón), and Neptuno street.
School children, in their gold pants and skirts, were walking to class. Workers were stoping at the small Cafeteria’s setup from private houses to get coffee and roll. A few cars were on the streets, but generally people walked. By the time we reached this busy corner, the sky was starting to lighten, but there was still the feeling of dawn light.
The big American pre–1959 cars are ubiquitous in Havana. They seemed to make up about 50% of all the cars I noticed in Havana. Sometimes they are beautifully kept with bright shiny wax jobs, and other times they look like they are held together with wire and house paint. There are a smaller number of Soviet-era Ladas on the road which must have been the primary import until the break up of the U.S.S.R. in 1991. And finally, a small percentage of new Korean Hyundais are seen. The best kept of the American cars are private Taxi’s catering to the tourist trade. There are only a few intersections with traffic lights within the neighborhoods of Havana and, outside of the Paseo de Marti which runs down each side of the Prado into Havana Central, there seems to be little need.