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Do Any Countries Encourage Hitchhiking?

Getting around in Cuba can be difficult. Private cars are still a rarity, a gallon of gas can eat up a big chunk of a civil servant’s monthly pay, and public transportation is unreliable -- and extremely overcrowded. The country’s transportation snarl began when the flow of Soviet oil stopped, starting around 1990 after the Berlin Wall came down. That was when Cuba decided to enact its national plan for hitchhiking. People in need of a ride gather at a punto amarillo (or yellow point), and for about 5 cents, every passing government vehicle is required to stop and pick up waiting passengers.

Getting from here to there:

  • Locals call the hitchhiking system ir con la botella, which translates as “going with the bottle.” Why? Because the hand-and-outstretched thumb gesture used by hitchhikers resembles someone taking a drink.
  • Hitchhiking may have died off in the United States, given the inherent danger of getting in a stranger’s car, but it’s still acceptable, and basically safe, to bum a ride in some European countries.
  • In the Netherlands and in Israel, there are designated places for hitchhikers to wait for a ride. It’s also cool to hitch a ride in Germany, but not on the Autobahn.
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