Jun 22, 2005

Automotive/Marine Convergence [LINK]

Shortages are endemic in Cuba, as they tend to be in communist economies. Imagine living in a place where not only food and gasoline are rationed, but soap and underwear as well. There are even periodic shortages of mangoes, despite a lush growing climate that would seemingly render their production impervious to the American embargo.

The journalist Andres Oppenheimer once related how he kept getting breakfast delivered to his hotel room without any silverware, forcing him for days on end to improvise ways to spread jam on his toast. He finally cornered the bellhop, who admitted the silverware was locked away to prevent theft, and the guy who had the key couldn't get to work that day due to intermittent bus service. One restaurant had to chain the silverware to the table, but wear from constant use would shorten the chains, so patrons would have to eat with their heads hovering a couple of inches above their plates.

Now comes word that some inventive Cubans have become adept at retrofitting taxi cabs to make them seaworthy. So it has finally come to this. Now there is a shortage of rafts.

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