Talking About Gypsy Cabs: “Almendrones”

In the city of Havana, Cuba, “Big Almond” (almendrón in Spanish) is the nickname given to the antique cars, most of them made in USA, from the decades of the forties and the fifties. With ingenious bodywork they are still running around the main streets and avenues, giving service as collective taxi cabs to citizens who need to travel quickly from one place to another, without depending on the deficient public transportation.

My intention is not to write about them, but about another type of Big Almonds: the political Big Almonds. These, the same as their mechanical counterparts, also have an ingenious bodywork, pretending to keep on moving on the political grid, as if it were a road grid, after having given their old conceptions body and paint work, offering them as new, in agreement with the called socialism of the XXI century, which is nothing other than the same socialism of the XX century, now turned in a Big Almond.

These Big Almonds, some untouchable and perpetual, and others subject to the ups and downs of every moment (sometimes on top and sometimes on the bottom), have been present in high positions or in the less important ones, but always unconditional to the voice of the boss.

It seems they don’t understand how necessary a vehicle fleet change is, and their substitution for modern vehicles equipped with the new technologies, capable of performing their functions in a new age, which turns out to be impossible for the Big Almonds, although they went through capital repairs, thorough body work and painting with the best acrylic paints and lacquers.

The Big Almonds, either mechanical or political, are cars of the past, run down and obsolete, incapable even if you rebuilt the engine, of running at today’s high speeds or offering the required safety standards. Sooner than later they will be substituted and, like classic samples belonging to certain age, they will end up in the back of some museum. That will be their final destiny !

 Translated by Adrian Rodriguez

June 25 2011

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