Saturday, March 10, 2007

Spending time in Cuba

If we learned anything in Cuba it is that the bureaucracy is very effective in creating work for everyone and in preventing unwanted ´mixing of interests´. In Santiago de Cuba about 16 officials from different departments came on Sea Scout to check the vessel, the crew, the luggage, the food, our medicine box, our papers and so on for contraband, bugs, insects, whatever. They even fumigated the boat. So the boat is bugs free now. And lucky we were declared healthy and nothing illegal was found. It was an experience to find out that the officials checking asked us to see what they did, so they could not be accused of taking away anything.
Before leaving Geert had to buy special ´stamps´(sellos) before the ´immigracion´ could let us leave the harbour.
This morning we learned that for every new crew member we must have an extra ´sello´. So I went, as instructed by the official in the marina, to the post office in Trinidad to buy three of them. One for Marissa, one for Mary and one for Dancker. That´s good planning.
At the Correos (post office): ´Sellos d´enrollo? Never heard of. May be you can come back on Monday when the Correos Internacional is open.´
The two ladies in the post office were very kind but they could not help me.
So I decided to go to the office of Cubanacan, the official tourist organisation. ´Never heard of. May be you can try at the bank.´
At the bank, another few blocks away: ´Never heard of. I am very sorry we can´t help you.´
Cubanacan has a ´competitor´ called Cubatur. A few blocks further. After a discussion between five employees that took about fifteen minutes it was clear. I had to go to the Policia de Inmigracion. Outside town. Well, a taxi took me there within ten minutes. ´Sellos d´enrollo? Ah, no we don´t sell them here. We are not allowed to. You have to go to the bank.´
'At the bank they just ...'.
´But the only bank that sells them is the Banco de Credito y Comercio.´
OK, then. I arrived at the BCC at 11.05. On Saturday the bank closes at 11.00. ´But we have to leave tomorrow.' (little bit of exaggeration may help).
´Yes, I understand but I really can´t help you. You may try to go to Cienfuegos.´(That is only 80 kilometers northwest of here.) .
I will take a taxi Monday morning at 7.30 to be certain that I am the first client at the BCC. Or?