National Geographic : 1977 Jan
goods unavailable to Cubans at any price. There is a bustle to the Havana tempo that belies a Caribbean heritage as cars and peo ple squeeze through the noisy, narrow streets of its old section in a midday melange. Ex cept for some new-car imports from Argen tina, Italy, and the Soviet Union for govern ment use and for the professional workers who are allowed to buy, most private trans portation is vintage Detroit. This coughing, clanking collection of pre-1959 Kaisers, Pack ards, and workhorse Chevrolets has been so customized with pirated parts as to make their origin almost unrecognizable. Automotive genius and Latin machismo are at stake when the driver of one of the baling-wire beauties hangs out his window, honks furiously at every passing girl, and publicly stage-whispers, "Companera, with skin as delicate as yours, surely you should be walking on the shady side of the street." Gone from Cuban speech are senorita, senora, and senor, having been replaced by the revolutionary companera and companero, "comrade" or "companion." The accepted farewell is now hasta luego, "until later," in- stead of adios, with its religious connotation, "go with God." Most of Havana's churches remain open. I called on Father Carlos Manuel de C6spedes to learn how Catholicism and Com munism are coexisting. His great-grandfather led Cuba's first war of "... no member of any religion can become a member of the Communist Party.... Church attendance is down to about one percent of the population." - A CATHOLIC PRIEST independence against the Spanish, which cost him his life. Father Cespedes's old Jesus del Oases of glitter and elegance endure in a nation where austerity prevails. At Las Ruinas restaurant, maitre d'h6tel Ovideo Chavez serves a rum drink called the Guy ana-a bow to another leftist Latin-Ameri can country. With goods scarce and health services free, many Cubans spend their low but tax-free incomes on dining out. Bright lights and gaudy dancers still play to packed houses at the Tropicana, former tourist mecca. Diligent Cuban workers are rewarded with special rates.