In Cuba, picking up hitchhikers is mandatory for government vehicles, if passenger space is available.

Why Hitchhiking Is Huge in Cuba: ‘The Transportation System Is Screwed’

The air in Havana was more liquid than gas after several days of sudden rainstorms, but the oppressive humidity didn’t seem to bother the Cubans standing at the city’s punto amarillo (yellow points), part of the socialist island nation’s countrywide hitchhiking system.

A government worker stands at the punto amarillo, asks where you’re going, takes .25 Cuban pesos, (about 5 cents), and flags down a government vehicle heading that direction. The vehicles are legally required to stop if people are waiting.

“It all began with the Special Period,” Yasmin Tamayo, a 32-year-old cleaning woman at a government building, told VICE News while waiting for a ride to a small village outside of Havana.

Hitchhiking, or ir con la botella (going… Continue Reading (5 minute read)

15 thoughts on “In Cuba, picking up hitchhikers is mandatory for government vehicles, if passenger space is available.”

  1. cbtrn

    Been to Cuba recently, can confirm. People just stand by the side of the road, medical students, regular workers, etc and then cars stop by and people get in.

  2. Zarkdiaz

    We were picked by Austrian cops for trying to walk to Germany on the highway in the pouring rain. There was seriously no other way to go. They were super nice though and dropped us at the border.

  3. nobodydab

    New years eve, 2009(?) I was in Cuba, on a scooter ripping around, outside Matanzas I picked up every alone single (i mean it’s a scooter…) Cuban I seen when I was passenger free. You always had a neat interaction and they were genuinely the friendliest people I’ve met.

    I had an older lady (50’s?), barely spoke a word of English (and me the same for Spanish) ask me where I was from after giving her a ride, turns out she was recently just near where I lived, a few cities away (In Canada) visiting family. I managed to ask her how she liked it and the only reply was to pretend to bundle up, shiver and go “cold.”

  4. wHorze

    Spent some time in Almaty Kazakhstan and during the evening if you’re bar hopping or want to get to a place you just hitchhike and people take you there.

    It felt so crazy but its basically Uber and you pay then some coin when you get there

  5. Veekhr

    I’m going to guess this is something banned in the US since at least the 80s, because I will see references to government agencies picking up hitchhikers in the 50s or 60s. But only cops can pick up people now and it’s usually not great.

  6. ahmed_shah_massoud

    When I was in Cuba, I was told by the guide that it’s mandatory for *everyone* to pick up hitchhikers if space is available.

  7. AngryTheian

    Even driving by Guantanamo?

  8. SaulTBolls

    I was way too drunk one time and asked a cop for a ride back to my house, apparently it ate into his “try and ticket people leaving the bar” time.

  9. Harleeheights

    I lived in Havana for a bit many years ago. Sometimes it would be Russian made Ladas but so often it would be vintage American cars, the ones that are used as taxis for Cubans (not the nicer tourist taxis). They were pretty old and rusty but got the job done, and left you smelling like gasoline. My memory is foggy but I remember always giving the driver gas money in Cuban pesos (US equivalent of 10 cents or so?). Also sometimes we would break down along the malecón and everyone would have to get out and catch another ride. I thought of it less as hitchhiking and more of a ride share.

  10. DazrBlade

    Im cuban and I didnt know this…you really do learn something new everyday.

  11. libbylibertarian

    I’m old enough to remember when you picked up a hitchhiker because you had a car, and they did not. It was that simple. Imagine humans just helping each other out as a rule.

  12. Rybitron

    I went to Cuba a few years ago and definitely remember pulling over in a government taxi to pick up a police officer walking to work. It was a little strange, but they were both very friendly. A few miles up the road we pulled over, the officer got out and continued walking down a different street.

    It felt normal like what you would see on a subway or bus, but it was a 4 door Lada.

  13. Cubanza

    True, can confirm.

    From Cuba

  14. oxfozyne

    Que morir por la patria es vivir.

  15. Raoul-Duke-Ellington

    Hitchhiking in Latin America is almost as routine as driving in most parts.

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