Well here is the story I promised you.
I picked up the suitcase at the Taylors’ house just like I have done a dozen times before. This one is going to the North Maternity Hospital in Santiago as this has been my little project in the city. I have dropped off 6 suitcases there in the past with “almost” no problems. Ten minutes….in and out… and mission accomplished. This time was different!!!
I’m traveling with Funky, another young Canadian guy who lived in Santiago for over a year learning Spanish. This guy is about as wired into Cuban street culture and mind set as any foreigner could be.
We arrive at the hospital about 1:30 pm and I run in with the bag. The director at the hospital tells me that they can no longer accept donations at the hospital because of a “new Regulation” At this point… I’m starting to get a bad feeling about this. She tells me to try the main Public Hospital but when we get there, they ain’t interested either. They send me to clinic number three but they will not take it and will not call around to find out where I SHOULD take it. By now I am starting to get a little pissed off with the run around. Off we go to Hospital number 4… a public hospital where they specialize in cancers in women. (ovary, vaginal, breast etc…) I get sent from one office to another and finally, I have had ENOUGH!! It’s hard to anger the old Rainbow dude but now I am smoked. In front of about 20 people, I throw my hands up in the air and in Spanish, yell “ It is obvious that the people in Cuba DON”T NEED this $20,000 dollars worth of medicine so I’m going to throw it into the garbage!!!” First, you must understand that the figure $20,000 is a “special number to Cubans as it is the usual cost of a “go Fast Boat” to Florida. It has the equivalent effect of $1,000,000 here. Second… I have NO IDEA how much the donated stuff is worth or what most of it is used for, but the number seemed a good one to use at the time. Funky has the trunk open as I approach the car because he can see on my face I am angry and I still have the case in my hands. We jump into the car and drive off but suddenly, Funky yells, “Look behind us”. Four Cuban guys appeared from out of nowhere and are chasing us down the street on foot. That damn Funky kept going just fast enough to give them hope of catching us and they kept after us for two and a half blocks!!! HaHaHa!!! When Cubans think $20,000 is going into the garbage, they suddenly become world class athletes. HaHaHa!!!
We stopped into two more clinics before SOMEBODY decided to get off their butts and ask around as to where the donations need to go ACCORDING TO THE NEW REGULATION. I had hope again. Two more wrong directions…(“look for the blue building”…. THEY WERE ALL BLUE!!!)… and we land in the office Elena Barbado Rdguez, Calle :13 #106 el Ave. Manduley, RPTO Vista Alegre, Phone number 641824. She very slowly and carefully ( my Spanish sucks) explained that ALL medical donations has to go through her office, and there were boxes in her office of donations from different countries. Jackpot!!!
In all… we lost over three hours chasing down false leads and dealing with bone heads that could not be bothered to make a simple phone call about a regulation that nobody had seen or had a copy of but everybody is following. We also got to see 4 Cubans put steroid laced Ben Johnson to shame, fueled on only beans, rice and chicken. HaHaHa!!!
The lesson learn is that this is CUBA and NOTHING IS SIMPLE IN CUBA…. even giving away stuff for free!!! Every time I think I have something figured out in this country, somebody changes the rules…AGAIN!!! I’m passing along this information to the Taylors so the next person does not have to go through this. As for “Is this is the regulation for other provinces???”…God only knows because the Cubans sure as hell don’t!!!
Oh ya… and will I take down another NJT bag???…. You bet I will. Every time!
Well here is the story I promised you.
Hey Randy, good on ya for doing it. Maybe next time someone will meet you at the airport. Rules change…
When’s the next time?
You have more patience that I did, Randy. When the orphanage in Ciego de Avila tried to tell me that I had to take the suitcase of new shoes and clothes to a different address - to the ICAP central distribution agency - I said “lo siento, tengo prisa” or words to that effect and simply left it there and walked out.
I think this “new” regulation may not be so new. I ran into a similar scenario in the fall of 2007 when I went to Brisas Los Galeones and tried to deliver my NJT suitcase in Chivirico. Two clinics later I still had the suitcase. Some kind of paperwork that they wanted and I didn’t have. (I had the usual letter from NJT) Finally dropped it off at the clinic at Brisas Sierra Mar…where the doctor was happy to get it and told me the supplies were needed at several local clinics she attended. “Es Cuba”. Hopefully my current NJT suitcase will not be difficult to deliver in Santa Lucia. :
Thanks for taking the time to post, rainbow. You were pretty patient under the circumstances. I’m impressed!
[quote=@yhz]Thanks for taking the time to post, rainbow. You were pretty patient under the circumstances. I’m impressed! :-)[/quote]Hey, it took him three hours…it was three days before I got rid of mine!! (and that was only because I begged and pleaded until they let me ride over to Brisas Sierra Mar on the security bus!!) ;D
Rainbow~ As always, it is sheer entertainment reading about your experiences in Cuba. ;D Thanks so much for regaling us with this latest saga of the NJT bag. Have any more stories you want to share with us?
Yes thank you Rainbow, always enjoy reading about different experiences in Cuba
There was another BLOG about someone being in Cuba for this month that I really enjoy reading too
well, rainbow, thanks…I think, no insult intended but I sure hope this doesn’t scare people off from trying.
I’ve got my own story, and I’ll post it as I sent it to NJT when I got back, but it was much more pleasant. I’m going to change the info now though so that it doesn’t tip anyone off as to where the bag ended up.
However, as it was explained to me, if the bag, ends up in Cuba, and doesn’t end up on the black market (or even if it does for that matter) it has help Cuban’s in a way that they really need help
Regards and now I’ll post my thread of our experience.
No insult taken Iggy. While this may be a pain in the AZZ for us, it can mean the difference of life or death to a Cuban. For that, I will ALWAYS put up with a little inconvinience. Ken and Denise are saints. I’m just a mule. Heeeeee Haaaaaawwwww! ;D ;D
I agree, it’s kind of a weird situation, you want to do good, you don’t want any thanks for doing good, but you don’t want nor need any grief doing it.
Foolishness like that plus the incessant demands for money plus the high cost of independent travel is the reason I cut my Cuba visit short returning to Guatemala for the duration of the winter with no plans to revisit Cuba in the near future.