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Going Local: Experiences and Encounters on the Road, by Tripatini member Nicholas Kontis
Thanks to Cuba's long isolation from most international trade, the United States’ economic embargo since 1960, and a ban on Cubans buying new cars, one of the things most striking about Cuba has been that many if not most of the automobiles on the road even today are the same now-vintage cars that were plying them back in the 1950s, 1940s, and even in a few cases 1930s (estimated at some 60,000 in number).
Cubans – and my own Uncle Tito is an excellent example, whipping up mechanical fixes even for state-owned companies from his dinky little home workshop – are veritable geniuses at the art of what they term resolver, getting by by hook or by crook. And when it comes to keeping these old autos - dubbed almendrones (“big almonds”) and abuelos (granddads) – on the road, they learned to swap out engine and chassis parts from other sources, including the likes of farm tractors. This lack of original parts actually makes them not terribly coveted by collectors in the developed world except perhaps nostalgic Cuban exiles, but there’s no denying that they lend an amazing “time warp” effect to the streets of Havana and elsewhere on the island... keep reading
Straddling two time zones and four climate zones, Central Asia's largest country is one of startling contrasts. Some would say it is the country of steppes, others of endless flatlands, of deep canyons such as Charyn, of deserts or of semi-saline lakes, like Balkhash. They would all be right. Richly endowed by nature, the country has embraced green policies with targets extending to 2050. Like an old nomadic tribe, changes are in the country’s DNA, as illustrated by the decision to move the capital form Almaty to Astana, a city undergoing frenetic development, with imposing landmarks that include the Palace of Peace and Reconciliation, the Tower of Bayterek and Khan Shatyr cultural center... keep reading
photos | José Balido, Flickr
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