Story of a Havana Taxi

By Esther Zoza

Collective Taxis in Havana

HAVANA TIMES – Catching a collective taxi in Havana is such a feat, my neighbor told me, hot and bothered, while trying to open her front door.

Flagging down a Taxi in a city where fuel is hard to come by and its inhabitants take to the street early in the morning in order to try and make up for their daily shortages, in a desperate run around of state-run or black markets, or just trying to get to work, is a real witch hunt. 

Catching a Taxi in Havana requires masterful body language, where signals aren’t the only things you need: the future passenger will also have to jump on and off the sidewalk several times, as well as dodge traffic, putting their life at risk, and being on the lookout to make sure nobody hunts down and catches your taxi.

If the Taxi driver agrees to stop, the client will then have to make do with the route that the driver is taking, which as we well-know, might or might not coincide with the destination of the desperate hunter. But, if they do agree and you get into the taxi, then the aforementioned becomes a victim of the driver’s taste in music and will most likely be exposed to the obscene and rude lyrics of extremely popular Reggaeton songs.

If that person is sensitive, their face changes every shade of pink, until the inner canals of their ears are bright red. They’ll sweat buckets even though the windows are rolled down or (in the case it’s a modern car and well cared for) the air-conditioning will mist up the windows, and it’s very likely your blood pressure skyrockets.

It goes without saying that I have also been a victim of those Reggaeton songs that are becoming more and more common, not only in the enclosed space of a taxi, but also in buses, or on a walk through the city; and I’m started by their lyrics every time:

In most songs, women have become an object of sexual pleasure; partnership and love has ceased to exist. It’s true that respect for someone else, including different tastes, in music or otherwise, but… has anyone ever thought that exposure without consent is also a form of violence?  


4 thoughts on “Story of a Havana Taxi

  • Best way to get around Havana.
    But some of the reggaeton can be an absolute nightmare.
    Don’t wish to sound prudish and some of those tunes are ok in a nightclub or at a party, but hearing some of the lyrical content blasting out in certain situations is totally inappropriate.
    A colectivo is an example to this. It’s particularly unfair on female passengers especially if outnumbered by males.

  • It sounds like públicos in most Latin countries really; from Colombia to the Dominican Republic to Honduras. That is pretty much the same thing.

    For the exception of the vulgar, inappropriate music that MAY be listened to… The experience is actually quite a treat and I recommend it when travelling to any of those countries. You get to meet the people and hear the real deal.

    In most cases, which you failed to point out, they have predetermined routes. So, you know where you might go.

  • Civil conduct and behavior in the public domain seems to be ‘ down the tubes ‘ in Cuba’ s major cities. What a pity !

  • Recently traveled to Cuba for 2 weeks. Really?!?!
    Please. Don’t be a snow flake. If the is offensive, than ask to change the music or request the genre of music preferred. That’s what I did.
    This is a phising article, putting tge Cuban people in bad light. Worse is seen and heard here in the states.
    Go to Cuba and enjoy your visit.


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