A hundred years ago, the Cubans travelled from place to place about the island, just as our ancestors did in this country, by water and over rough trails few of which could, with any approach to correctness, be described as roads. It was not until about a hundred years ago that we, in this country, began to build anything even remotely resembling a modern highway. Our towns and cities were on the seaboard or on the banks of rivers navigable for vessels of size sufficient for their purposes. Commodities carried to or brought from places not so located were dragged in stoutly built wagons over routes the best of which was worse than the worst to be found anywhere today. Because real road-making in Cuba is quite a modern institution, an enterprise to which, in their phrase, the Spanish Government did not "dedicate" itself, the Cuban wagons and carts of today are chiefly those of the older time. They are heavy, cumbrous affairs with large wheels, a diameter necessitated by the deep ruts through which a passage was made. A smaller wheel would soon have been "hub-deep" and hopelessly stuck. So, too, with the carriages of the nabobs. The poorer people, when they travelled at all, went on foot or on horseback, as our ancestors did. The nabobs had their volantes, still occasionally, but with increasing rarity, seen in some parts of the island. Forty years ago, such vehicles, only a little changed from the original type, were common enough in Havana itself. About that time, or a few years earlier, the four-wheeler began to supplant them for city use.

There is a technical difference between the original type of volante and its successor which, though still called a volante was properly called a quitrin. The only real difference was that the top of the quitrinwas collapsible, and could be lowered when desirable, while the top of the volante was not. I have ridden in these affairs, I cannot say comfortably, over roads that would have been quite impossible for any other wheeled vehicle. At the back, and somewhat behind the body were two wheels, six feet in diameter. From, the axle, two shafts projected for a distance, if memory serves me, of some twelve or fifteen feet. A little forward of the axle, the body, not unlike the old-fashioned American chaise, was suspended on stout leather straps serving as springs. Away off in front, at the end of the shafts, was a horse on which the driver rode in a heavy and clumsy saddle. For long-distance travel, or for particularly rough roads, a second horse was added, alongside the shaft horse, and sometimes a third animal. The motion was pleasant enough over the occasional smooth places, but the usual motion was much like that of a cork in a whirlpool, or of a small boat in a choppy sea. Little attention was paid to rocks or ruts; it was almost impossible to capsize the thing. One wheel might be two feet or more higher than the other, whereupon the rider on the upper side would be piled on top of the rider or riders on the lower side, but there was always a fair distribution of this favor. The rocks and ruts were not always on the same side of the road. The safety from overturn was in the long shafts which allowed free play. In the older days, say sixty or seventy years ago, the volante or the quitrin was an outward and visible sign of a well-lined pocket-book. It indicated the possessor as a man of wealth, probably a rich planter who needed such a vehicle to carry him and his family from their mansion in the city to their perhaps quite as costly home on the plantation. The calisero, or driver, was dressed in a costume truly gorgeous, the horses were of the best, and the vehicle itself may have cost two thousand dollars or more. The operation of such a contrivance, extending, from the rear of the wheels to the horse's nose, for twenty feet or more, in the narrow streets of the old city, was a scientific problem, particularly in turning corners.

Cuba was early in the field with a railway. In 1830, the United States had only thirty-two miles of line, the beginning of its present enormous system. Cuba's first railway was opened to traffic in November, 1837. It was a forty-five mile line connecting Havana with the town of Guines, southeast of the city. While official permission was, of course, necessary before the work could be undertaken, it was in fact a Cuban enterprise, due to the activity of the Junta de Fomento, or Society for Improvement. It was built with capital obtained in London, the construction being in charge of Mr. Alfred Cruger, an American engineer. Ten years later there were nearly three hundred miles of line. At the beginning of the American occupation, in 1899, there were about nine-hundred and fifty miles. There are now more than 2,000 miles of public service line in operation, and in addition there are many hundreds of miles of private lines on the sugar estates. Several cities have trolley lines. For some years after the American occupation, as before that experience, there was only a water-and-rail connection, or an all-water route, between the eastern and western sections of the island. The usual route from Havana to Santiago was by rail to Batabano or to Cienfuegos, and thence by steamer. The alternative was an all-water route, consuming several days, by steamer along the north coast, with halts at different ports, and around the eastern end of the island to the destination. It is now an all-rail run of twenty-four hours. The project for a "spinal railway" from one end of the island to the other had been under consideration for many years. The configuration lent itself excellently to such a system, and not at all well to any other. A railway map of such a system shows a line, generally, through the middle of the island along its length, with numerous branch lines running north and south to the various cities and ports on the coast. The plan, broadly, is being carried out. A combination of existing lines afforded a route to the city of Santa Clara. From these eastward, the Cuba Company, commonly known as the Van Home road, completed a through line in 1902. In its beginning, it was a highly ambitious scheme, involving the building of many towns along the way, the erection of many sugar mills, and the creation of a commercial city, at Nipe Bay, that would leave Havana in the back-number class. All that called for a sum of money not then and not now available. But the "spinal railroad" was built, and from it a number of radiating lines have been built, to Sancti Spiritus, Manzanillo, Nipe Bay, and to Guantanamo. About the only places on the island, really worth seeing, with the exception of Trinidad and Baracoa, can now be reached by a fairly comfortable railway journey.

In most of the larger cities of the island, a half dozen or so of them, the traveller is made fairly comfortable and is almost invariably well fed. But any question of physical comfort in hotels, more particularly in country hotels, raises a question of standards. As Touchstone remarked, when in the forest of Arden, "Travellers must be content." Those who are not ready to make themselves so, no matter what the surroundings, should stay at home, which, Touchstone also remarked, "is a better place." If the standard is the ostentatious structure of the larger cities of this country, with its elaborate menu and its systematized service, there will doubtless be cause for complaint. So will there be if the standard is the quiet, cleanly inn of many towns in this country and in parts of Europe. The larger towns and villages of the island have a posada in which food and lodging may be obtained; the smaller places may or may not have "a place to stay." Cuba is not a land in which commercial travellers swarm everywhere, demanding comfort and willing to pay a reasonable price for it. However, few travellers and fewer tourists have any inclination to depart from known and beaten paths, or any reason for doing so. Nor does a fairly thorough inspection of the island necessitate any halting in out-of-the-way places where there is not even an imitation of an inn. All that one needs to see, and all that most care to see, can be seen in little tours, for a day, from the larger cities. Yet if one wants to wander a little in the by-paths, it is easy enough to do so.

What one sees or does in Cuba will depend mainly upon the purpose of the visit, and upon the violence of the individual mania for seeing as many places as possible. If the object is merely an excursion or an escape from the rigors of a northern winter, there is no occasion for wandering out of sight of the capital city. There is more to see and more to do in Havana than there is in all the rest of the island. Nor is there much to be seen elsewhere that cannot be seen in the immediate vicinity of that city. This, of course, does not cover the matter of scenery. There are no mountains, no forest jungles in that neighborhood, but forests in Cuba are not particularly interesting, and even the mountains of Oriente are no more beautiful or majestic than are our own summits, our own White Hills of New Hampshire, the Adirondacks, the Blue Ridge, the Alleghenies, the Rockies, and the Sierras. The charm of Cuba, and it is extremely charming, is not its special "points of interest." It is rather a general impression, a combination of soft and genial climate with varying lights and shades and colors. Even after much experience there, I am not yet quite ready either to admit or to deny that the island, taken as a whole, is either beautiful or picturesque, and yet there is much of both. Attention is rarely challenged by the sublime or the majestic, but is often arrested by some play of light and shade. Cuban villages, with few exceptions, are unattractive, although there is not infrequently some particular building, usually a church, that calls for a second look or a careful examination. Most of these little communities consist of a row of low and ungraceful structures bordering the highway. They are usually extended by building on at the ends. If the town street gets undesirably long, a second street or a third will be made, on one or both sides of the main street, and thus the town acquires breadth as well as length. The houses are built immediately upon the roadside, and sidewalks are quite unusual. Nor, until the place becomes a large town or a small city, is there, in most cases, any attempt at decoration by means of shade trees. A tree may be left if there happened to be one when the village was born, but rarely do the inhabitants turn their streets into tree-shaded avenues. There would be an excellent opportunity for the activities of Village Improvement Societies in Cuba, if it were not for the fact that such tree-planting would involve pushing all the houses ten or fifteen feet back from the roadside.

I have never studied the system of town building in the island, yet it is presumable that there was some such system. In the larger places, there is usually a central park around which are arranged the church, the public buildings, and the stores. Whether these were so constructed from an original plan, or whether they are an evolution, along a general plan, from the long, single street, I do not know. I am inclined to believe that the former was the case, and that it followed the location of a church. The custom is, of course, of Spanish origin, and is common throughout the greater part of Latin America. It finds a fair parallel in our own country custom, by no means infrequent, of an open "green" or common in front of the village church and the town hall. Tree-setting along the Cuban highways, more particularly in the neighborhood of the cities, is not at all unusual, and some of these shaded roads are exceedingly charming. Some are entirely over-arched by laurel trees and the gorgeous flamboyan, making long tunnels of shade "through whose broken roof the sky looks in." Evidently the Spanish authorities were too much interested in making money and enjoying themselves in the cities to care very much for what happened to the Cubans in the villages, as long as they paid the money that filled the official pocket and paid for the official entertainment, and the Cubans were too busy getting that money to have much time for village improvement. The Spaniards, following their home custom, might decorate a military highway to some extent, but the rough trail over which the peasant carried his little crop did not concern them. That was quite the business of the peasant who had neither the time nor money to do anything about it.

The question of good roads in Cuba is very much what it is in this country. Cuba needs more good roads than its people can afford to build; so does the United States. At the time of the American occupation, in 1899, there were only 160 miles of improved highway in the entire island. Of this, 85 miles were in Havana Province, and 75 miles in Pinar del Rio. The remainder of the island had none. Some work was done during the First Intervention and more was done under the Palma government. At the time of the Second Intervention, there were about 380 miles. That is, the United States and the Cuban Republic built, in six years, nearly 40 per cent, more highway than the Spanish authorities built in four hundred years. During the Palma regime, plans were drawn for an extensive road system, to be carried out as rapidly as the financial resources permitted. Not unlike similar proceedings in this country, in river and harbor work and public buildings, politics came into the matter and, like our own under similar circumstances, each Congressman insisted that some of such work as could immediately be undertaken, some of the money that could be immediately spent, should benefit his particular district. The result was that what was done by the Cubans was somewhat scattered, short stretches built here and there, new bridges built when there might or might not be a usable road to them. The Cuban plan involved, for its completion, a period of years and a large appropriation. It called for comparatively small yearly appropriations for many roads, for more than four hundred different projects. Then came the Second Intervention, in 1906, with what has seemed to many of us an utterly unwise and unwarranted expenditure for the completion of certain selected projects included in the Cuban plan. It may be granted that the roads were needed, some of them very much needed, but there are thousands of miles of unconstructed but much needed roads in the United States. Yet, in this country, Federal, State, county, and town treasuries are not drained to their last dollar, and their credit strained, to build those roads. From the drain on its financial resources, the island will recover, but the misfortune appears in the setting of a standard for Federal expenditure, in its total for all purposes amounting to about $40,000,000 a year, far beyond the reasonable or proper bearing power of the island. But the work was done, the money spent, and the Cubans were committed to more work and to further expenditure. I find no data showing with exactness the mileage completed by the Magoon government, which came to an end in January, 1909, but a Cuban official report made at the end of 1910 shows that the combined activities of the respective administrations, Spanish, American, and Cuban, had given the island, at that time, practically a thousand miles of improved highway, distributed throughout the island.

To see the real Cuba, one must get into the country. Havana is the principal city, and for many it is the most interesting place on the island, but it is no more Cuba than Paris is France or than New York is the United States. The real Cuba is rural; the real Cuban is a countryman, a man of the soil. If he is rich, he desires to measure his possessions in caballerias of 33-1/3 acres; if poor, in hectareas of 2-1/2 acres. I do not recall any Cuban cartoon representing the Cuban people that was not a picture of the peasant, the guajiro. Cuba, as a political organism, is shown as a quite charming senorita, but el pueblo Cubano, the Cuban people, are shown as the man of the fields. With the present equipment of railroads, trolley lines, automobile busses, and highways, little excursions are easily made in a day. The railways, trolleys, and automobile busses are unsatisfactory means of locomotion for sight-seeing. The passenger is rushed past the very sights that would be of the greatest interest. To most of us, a private hired automobile is open to the very serious objection of its expensiveness, an item that may sometimes be reduced by division. It has been my good fortune in more recent years to be whirled around in cars belonging to friends but my favorite trip in earlier days is, I presume, still open to those who may care to make it. I have recommended it to many, and have taken a number with me over the route.

It is an easy one-day excursion of about sixty miles, by rail to Guanajay, by carriage to Marianao, and return to Havana by rail. Morning trains run to Guanajay, through a region generally attractive and certainly interesting to the novice, by way of Rincon and San Antonio de los Banos, a somewhat roundabout route, but giving a very good idea of the country, its plantations, villages, and peasant homes. At Guanajay, an early lunch, or a late breakfast, may be obtained at the hotel, before or after an inspection of the town itself, a typical place with its little central park, its old church, and typical residences. Inquiry regarding the transportation to Marianao by carriage should not be too direct. It should be treated as a mere possibility depending upon a reasonable charge. I have sometimes spent a very pleasant hour in intermittent bargaining with the competitors for the job, although knowing very well what I would pay and what they would finally accept. Amiably conducted, as such discussions should be in Cuba, the chaffering becomes a matter of mutual entertainment. A bargain concluded, a start may be made about noon for a drive over a good road, through a series of typical villages, to Marianao, in time for a late afternoon train to Havana, reaching there in ample time for dinner. Along the road from Guanajay to Marianao, Maceo swept with ruthless hand in 1896, destroying Spanish property. Here the Spaniards, no less ruthless, destroyed the property of Cubans. It is now a region of peaceful industry, and little or nothing remains to indicate its condition when I first saw it. The little villages along the way were in ruins, the fields were uncultivated, and there were no cattle. At intervals there stood the walls of what had been beautiful country estates. Only one of many was left standing. At intervals, also, stood the Spanish blockhouses. All along that route, in 1906, were the insurrectos of the unfortunate experience of that year. In the village of Caimito, a short distance from Guanajay, along that road, I visited Pino Guerra at his then headquarters when he and his forces so menaced Havana that Secretary Taft, in his capacity of Peace Commissioner, ordered their withdrawal to a greater distance. The trip by rail and road, exhibits most of Cuba's special characteristics. There are fields of sugar cane and fields of tobacco, country villages and peasant homes, fruits and vegetables, ceiba trees, royal palms, cocoanut palms, and mango trees. There is no other trip, as easily made, where so much can be seen. But there are other excursions in the vicinity, for many reasons best made by carriage or by private hired automobile. Within fifteen miles or so of the city, are places like Calvario, Bejucal, and Managua, all reached by good highways through interesting and typical country, and all well illustrating the real life of the real Cubans. It was in the vicinity of those places that Maximo Gomez operated in 1895 and 1896, terrorizing Havana by menacing it from the south and the east while Maceo threatened it from the west. Another short and pleasant trip can be made around the head of the harbor to Guanabacoa, and thence to Cojimar. Another interesting and easily reached point is Guines, a good example of places of its size and class.

Of Cuba's larger cities, there are a score that would demand attention in a guide-book. Just as there is a certain similarity in most American cities, in that they are collections of business and residence buildings of generally similar architecture, so is there a certain sameness in most of Cuba's cities. To see two or three of them is to get a general idea of all, although each has its particular features, some particular building, or some special charm of surroundings. The most difficult of access are Baracoa, the oldest city of the island, and Trinidad, founded only a few years later. Glancing at some of these places, in their order from west to east, the first is Pinar del Rio, a comparatively modern city, dating really from the second half of the 18th Century. It owes its past and its present importance to its location as a centre of the tobacco region of the Vuelta Abajo. From comfortable headquarters here, excursions can be made, by rail or road, through what is perhaps the most attractive, and not the least interesting section of the island. To the north are the Organ Mountains and the picturesque town of Vinales, one of the most charming spots, in point of scenery, in Cuba. To the west, by rail, is Guane, the oldest settlement in western Cuba, and all around are beautiful hills and cultivated valleys. Eastward from Havana, the first city of importance is Matanzas. Here is much to interest and much to charm, the city itself, its harbor, its two rivers, the famous valley of the Yumuri, and the caves of Bellamar. The city, founded in 1693, lies along the shore of the bay and rises to the higher ground of the hills behind it. It lies about sixty miles from Havana, and is easily reached by rail or by automobile. The next city in order, also on the north coast, is Cardenas, a modern place, settled in 1828, and owing its importance to its convenience as a shipping port for the numerous sugar estates in its vicinity, an importance now somewhat modified by the facilities for rail shipment to other harbors. Seventy-five miles or so further eastward is Sagua la Grande, another point of former convenience as a shipping point for sugar. The city itself is located on a river, or estuary, some ten or twelve miles from its mouth. Forty miles or so further on are Remedies and Caibarien, a few miles apart, the latter on the coast and the former a few miles inland. Caibarien, like Cardenas and Sagua, is chiefly notable as a sugar port, while Remedios is the centre of one of the great tobacco districts, producing a leaf of good quality but generally inferior to the Partidos of Havana Province, and quite inferior to the famous Vuelta Abajo. Southward of this region, and about midway the width of the island, somewhat more than two hundred miles eastward of Havana, is the city of Santa Clara, better known in the island as Villa Clara. The city dates its existence from 1689. It lies surrounded by rolling hills and expansive valleys, but in the absence of extensive plantations in its immediate environs, one is led to wonder just why so pleasant a place should be there, and why it should have reached its present proportions. For the tourist who wants to "see it all," it is an excellent and most comfortable central headquarters.

From Villa Clara it is only a short run to Cienfuegos, the "city of a hundred fires," a modern place, only about a hundred years old. There is every probability that Columbus entered the harbor in 1494, and perhaps no less probability that Ocampo entered in 1508, on his voyage around the island. The harbor extends inland for several miles, with an irregular shore line, behind which rises a border line of hills. The city itself is some four or five miles from the entrance to the harbor. It came into existence, and still exists, chiefly by reason of the sugar business. It is an important outlet for that industry, and many estates are in its near vicinity. The old city of Trinidad is reached, by boat, from Cienfuegos, or rather its port city, Casilda, is so reached. Presumably, it was the port city that Velasquez founded in 1514, a location a few miles inland being chosen later, as being less exposed to attacks by the pirates and freebooters who infested the Caribbean Sea for many years. It is said that Cortes landed here and recruited his forces on his way to Mexico, in 1518. The city itself stands on the lower slopes of the hills that form its highly effective background. Its streets are narrow and tortuous. Like most of the cities of the island, and most of the cities of the world, it has its humble homes of the poor, and its mansions of the rich. Immediately behind it stands a hill with an elevation of about nine hundred feet above sea-level. Its name indicates the reason for its application, La Vigia, the "lookout," or the "watch-tower." From its summit, we may assume that the people of earlier times scanned the horizon for any sign of approaching pirates by whom they might be attacked. It serves a more satisfactory purpose nowadays in that it affords one of the loveliest panoramic views to be found anywhere in Cuba. Not far away, and accessible from the city, is the Pico de Potrerillo, about 3,000 feet elevation, the highest point in Central Cuba. Northeast of Trinidad, and reached by rail from Villa Clara, is Sancti Spiritus, Trinidad's rival in antiquity, both having been founded, by Velasquez, in the same year. Here also are narrow, crooked streets in a city of no mean attractions, although it lacks the picturesque charm of its rival in age. It is an inland city, about twenty-five miles from the coast, but even that did not protect it from attack by the pirates. It was several times the victim of their depredations.