SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- Only five months ago, Puerto Rico claimed the Guinness world record for the longest parade of classic cars: 2,491. Now, in the wake of Hurricane Maria, the island's celebrated car culture has complicated the struggle to restore people's lives and the commonwealth's economy.
Drivers desperate for gasoline are waiting for hours in lines that stretch half a mile or more. One in San Juan on Friday ran from Sixto Escobar Stadium, down the entire length of the Escambron beach, around a bluff overlooking the ocean, and past El Hamburguer and a KFC before arriving at a Shell station.
It was vivid evidence that Puerto Rico has one of the highest rates of car ownership in the world, thanks to urban sprawl and the government's failure to build public transportation that commuters might actually use.
"It's ridiculous that there are so many cars on this little island," said Lisa Rivera, 54, who works for a company that runs Jenny Craig weight-loss programs in Puerto Rico. She spoke from her SUV as she sat in another line for fuel.