It is actually very simple. You can not get decent tools in Cuba. Yes, you can purchase badly made, highly expensive, tools from Russia, but you can not buy quality, made-to-last tools.
What person doesn’t need a cordless drill. They are, in my opinion, the one tool every home should have. This is the reason I was trying to bring a quality piece of every day hardware into Cuba. My friends needed one.
Customs in every country has its own quirks, but in Cuba, looking for things to tax is the foremost. There in lies my drill story.
It was simple, in amongst the 20 pairs of shoes, not for me, but for my friends, was the drill.
Shoes made to last are another quality item almost impossible to find in this beautiful island country. Amongst the shoes, I had several sets of sheets and towels. You guessed it, anything over 30 thread count just doesn’t exist. Tucked deep in all of this was an inocuous little drill, bits included.
That is what I got stopped for, simple really, that is what the x-rays will pick up. I complained, made up lots of excuses, played very stupid and stated that it was in my suitcase, because who doesn’t travel with a cordless drill? I walked out without paying any duty.
Why is this important, I owed in the neighborhood of $30 to $40 US maximum, so why not just pay it and move on.
It is the principal really. My drill was just another symbol of the lack of quality items in Cuba, and if I have to lug them there, instead of buying them there, I am not paying another dime.
The lack of everything, from decent drills to eggs and cheese is already starting to wear through the thread bare patience of the Cuban’s I know. If I can help to show them what is out there, and what they could have when things open up, I am happy to pull that dangling thread on an unravelling sweater.