My crazy Coco Taxi ride

By Carl Wallace / Posted November 2, 2012

What an experience!  I had taken coco taxi rides here and there in Havana before, but this one was epic. Standing on 5th  Avenue in Miramar, the traffic was screaming by on its way to the Malecon and central Havana. Could I walk it?  Clearly, I needed a ride.

Coco taxi driver Havana

Arturo and his Coco

Coco taxis are all over Havana; an open-air fiberglass coconut shaped mini taxi that is essentially a motor scooter with seats for tourists.

I signaled to the driver and he swerved into a driveway.  I hopped aboard heading for the Malecon, the seaside boulevard that runs along the city’s stunning waterfront and is, in many parts, currently being renovated to its original splendor..

But suddenly disaster strikes. Coming up from the tunnel that connects Miramar to the Malecon the coco putters to a stop. No problem, we’re just out of gas. No problem maybe, but the lined up traffic behind us doesn’t quite agree showing their displeasure with glares and horns.

My driver pops open the body of taxi, grabs the auxiliary fuel tank and repowers the coco’s minuscule engine moments before the traffic chaos behind us reaches its boiling point.

But we’re back in business, hurtling along the Malecon as I cheer my driver and snap photos. Well worth the five CUC’s I negotiated and a far more entertaining than I had expected.

The taxi culture in Havana is like that of any international city and the drivers are unofficial ambassadors to the city. Cuban taxis come in many flavours – bicycle taxis, cocos, fabulous old American cars and official taxis. In most cases the drivers sometimes informative and always fun.

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Carl Wallace