BBC explores the quirky differences between taking a cab in New York and Havana
A recent documentary carried out by two BBC reporters highlighted the vast differences between getting a taxi in Havana and New York. Beyond the dismal differences in fare prices, the comparisons ultimately showed how travellers can get really varied and unique experiences from hailing cabs in different parts of the world.
A short BBC documentary explored the differences between taking a cab in New York and a privately-owned taxi in Havana. Far beyond the obvious cultural and political differences, the reporters found out the significant difference in the cost of going for a ride in these two cities.
While in New York hundreds of taxis can be seen overflowing the traffic-jammed streets and it's very easy to hail one whether it involves physically signalling for it or making a quick call to request one, in Cuba it's an altogether different and more picturesque story.
Nowadays in Cuba, more and more privately-owned taxis are hitting the streets and providing the easiest and fastest mode of transport under the capital's sizzling heat. The alternative is waiting for hours under the scorching sun for a bus (there is no underground in Havana) or going for a rather expensive state-owned taxi service that charges in Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUC) instead of the more accessible national currency (CUP) in which most Cubans are paid their salary.
It might not be that simple to spot a private taxi in Havana's busy streets but if you know what to look out for you can travel in style for a very cheap fare. Most private taxis in Havana are classic cars like 50s Chevrolets with a (often hand-written) cardboard sign that reads "TAXI" in capital letters, and they certainly offer a unique experience. You get to step back in time while you enjoy unique views of Havana's kaleidoscopic landscape.
In New York, however the process it's pretty straightforward, you see one of the unmistakably free yellow cabs, make a signal, hop in and enjoy the ride. While the chat with the driver might not be as insightful or candid as a Cuban driver, you'll be comfortably placed to admire all the sky-scraping beauties.
Now the biggest difference here really lies in the cost. While a nine-mile ride down Manhattan can fare up to around $60.00 dollars for the same 15-kilometre journey down Havana's music-filled streets will set you back 20 pesos – a mere $0.80 cents (or around 50p!).
But of course, that only applies if you brush up on your Spanish skills before heading to your Cuba holiday and try to pass for a local, otherwise once they realise you're a tourist carrying CUCs the rate will invariably be much higher but still far cheaper than that of a typical New York cab.
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