Cuba, gifts for the locals

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Comments

  • edited 10:46AM
    If you feel the need to bring humanitarian supplies then please distribute them through the proper channels (church, orphanage, clinic, etc.) so they reach the people in most need. That means no gifting to casa owners or random gifting to strangers.

    Cheers,
    Terry
  • edited 10:46AM
    We were thinking of bring gently used toys and hand me down clothes from our kids. To give to people that have children of the right age.
    As well as shampoo and the other things mentioned.

    We will be going end of jan.
    any other things we should bring?
  • edited 10:46AM
    "... To give to people that have children of the right age..."

    ===================================

    How are you going to find these people who can't afford toys and have kids the right age?

    Are you travelling independently or are you on a package tour?

    Shampoo is easily available, I buy a 1.5 litre jug for 2.25 CUC.

    Cheers,
    Terry
  • edited 10:46AM
    We were simply going to ask people if they knew anyone who had kids of the right age.
    So save the toys and give money?
    Are there places in varadro that we could drop it off at?
    What would you suggest?
  • edited 10:46AM
    If you don't have personal friends in Cuba then don't bother bringing toys to hand out to strangers. That makes no sense.

    In Varadero direct your generosity through St. Elvira’s Church on 1st Avenue - any taxi driver will know it. Father Jesús Marcoleta does good work. The best time to catch someone there is between 9:00am and Noon on weekdays.

    Cheers,
    Terry
  • edited 10:46AM
    Hi Terry,

    I have been reading through your comments, which have been very helpful. I am going to Cuba next week on a study abroad trip to the University of Havana, more specifically in Vedado.

    So, I am wondering what gifts are the best to take in that area and how to go about distributing them?

    Additionally, I want to experience the night life...any suggestions or advice on how to go about doing it?

    Thanks you for your attention in this matter.
  • edited 10:46AM
    1.) "... So, I am wondering what gifts are the best to take in that area and how to go about distributing them?..."

    If you've read my comments my opinion is to take no gifts at all unless you're going to distribute them through the proper charitable channels and for a first time visitor - especially a long term stay where your inbound luggage weight will be maximized - then I don't see this as a viable option. There is also the issue of proper import paperwork for legitimate charitable donations, do you really want to deal with this when you're entering on a non-tourist visa?

    2.) "... Additionally, I want to experience the night life...any suggestions or advice on how to go about doing it?..."

    Start here: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/havana-good-time/id385663683?mt=8

    Have fun.

    Cheers,
    Terry
  • edited 10:46AM
    Hi Terry,

    Thank you so much for your comments and information. You've given me alot to think about and a different perspective to giving gifts while on holiday. We were in Dominican Republic two years ago and did leave gifts for the maid and other resort staff as well as tipping when appropriate.

    My husband and I are going to Cuba in February to a more secluded area, Club Amigo Farallon del Caribe. It's a two hour bus ride from the airport in Manzanillo. Do you know of any medical clinics or other suitable places in that area where we could take some medical supplies, ie tylenol, antibiotic cream, bandage, etc.

    My husband is an avid fisherman and is hoping to fish as much as possible while there. He would like to take some fishing supplies to give as gifts to local people he meets while fishing, as we have heard that fishing line, hooks, etc are hard to get. Good idea, or not so good idea???

    Thanks.

    Heather
  • edited 10:46AM
    That resort is literally in the middle of nowhere with the nearest town (Pilon) quite some distance away and I'm not aware of any proper humanitarian recipients there so I would suggest to stick to the usual rules for a first time visitor - tip in CUC for good service.

    Hooks/sinkers/line would be appreciated by any local fisherman who provides good guiding services.

    Cheers,
    Terry
  • edited 10:46AM
    Thank you Terry. I was referring to charitable organizations in that area that you may know as reliable. I'll be posting my experience upon my return.
  • edited 10:46AM
    Thanks Terry. The middle of nowhere is exactly what we're looking for. It's been a difficult year and some time away from everything here will be a welcome relief.

    Thanks again.
  • edited 10:46AM
    Have a gas!

    Cheers,
    Tery
  • edited 10:46AM
    Ok so Ive been to Cuba before and left the usual mugs, toiletries but I noticed that some of the resorts insist that their room people (I hate calling them maids) are expected to where panty hose even though it's very warm there. Has anyone else noticed this and would it be prudent to bring these as a "gift"?
  • edited 10:46AM
    If for some reason you have the urge to give gifts to your maid who is already one of the richest workers in Cuba because she receives an unending avalanche of gifts every single week then I suppose pantyhose is fine.

    On the other hand you could simply tip in CUC for good service so she can buy them herself.

    Have fun.

    Cheers,
    Terry
  • edited 10:46AM
    thank you Terry.
    I do understand that they are the richest but since I very seldom leave the resort (I do tip cuc quite often) and do like to leave a couple small token gifts, I figured these would probably be the least left for them. I was also thinking as some other folks here have said, ASA, and the like. I don't mean to sound like "me come from rich country; you come from poor" and here take my hand-me-downs or cast offs.
  • edited January 2013
    Just keep in mind that no matter what you give to your maid she receives the very same gift from many tourists over and over and over again so it'll simply end up being sold on the black market or in a local tienda. That why for a resort worker who you do not know I recommend only tipping in CUC for good service.

    Have fun.

    Cheers,
    Terry
  • edited 10:46AM
    Hi there,
    I'm going to Cuba in february for five months as a study abroad placement in Havana, meaning I will (hopefully) be interacting with Cubans and making friends with genuine local students. I have been planning to take gifts such as English soaps and papers and pencils with me, to give to my host family when I arrive and then to leave as gifts when I have finished my time there, as i heard they are hard to find. Terry what is your two cents for this? Also conscious of my baggage weight.
    Thanks,
    Clare
  • edited 10:46AM
    Giving a token of respectful appreciation to your host family is a completely different issue than the random gifting that I am very much against. Two entirely separate issues. The former is simply good manners, the latter is naive/uninformed behaviour.

    Leave the pencils and paper at home, they're immaterial. Fancy foreign soap might be appreciated, but until you meet your host family... who knows. Maybe a family member works at a resort and they're buried under an avalanche of free soap.

    I would tend towards something that would always be handy around the casa... perhaps an emergency flashlight that doesn't require batteries, it works with a crank... two or three nice kitchen knives, inexpensive at home but almost impossible to find in Cuba... some of those bags that fold up really, really small that could hide in a corner of a purse or in a pocket but are ready to be filled up in a moment's notice if you see a good deal walking past a market or store...

    Five months in Havana... holy crap Clare, that's a long haul! Good luck to you.

    Cheers,
    Terry

    PS Do you know your host's address?
  • edited 10:46AM
    Thanks Terry for your info and insight; I was worried that simply tipping at the resort we plan to stay at would not be considered "personal" enough. I was feeling obligated to bring gifts based on what I've read on the internet and what people have told me they've done when they've travelled to Cuba, usually under the premise that certain items like Tylenol are not readily available there. But the idea of giving random stuff to individual staff members whose needs and wants are completely unknown to me, topped by the fact that the majority of visitors to the hotel are likely doing the same thing, meaning the staff are inundated with potentially useless or an excess of items, makes me uncomfortable. I will follow your advice: CUCs for good service.
  • edited 10:46AM
    That's all good, common sense, Mom.

    Have fun.

    Cheers,
    Terry
  • edited 10:46AM
    My husband and I are going to Cuba in a few weeks for the second time. Last time we took 3 complete ball team uniforms, balls, gloves etc. The uniforms where given to us from a local sports store that were ordered but never used. It was worth asking if they had anything! We befriended a hotel worker who took us to his mothers house for dinner, then to a ball practice where the children were over the moon with their new uniforms. They where playing with balls that the string was falling out, and their shoes had holes in them. Their coach was a famous cuban ball player who took us to his house and gave my husband one of his ball Jerseys. A are definitely taking more ball equipment this time, and staying away from junk store crap. Our friend suggested DVDs as well, so his daughter could learn English :) he was lucky to have DVD player.
  • edited 10:46AM
    yeah yeah yeah know i got it, thanks Terry,
    i travel to Santa Clara in a couple of days for a month, visiting my Berlin-Friend's family,
    felt funny to bring soap or tooth brushes...
    instead i will bring some first class measuring tapes for the guy, who is a carpenter plus a couple of kitchen knifes for her. All items german made of course,
  • edited 10:46AM
    Thank you so much for your advice..I am now planning on taking 30lb of clothing , toys,and drugstore meds to Father Marcoleta, i was unable to determine any specific things needed except baseball s and gloves..what abut the little girls and infants..I never thought as spending time with children as looking in a zoo...but don't think I will be doing that again until i have some real time to volunteer.Thanks again for all your insights
    gramma Lynda
  • edited 10:46AM
    Have a nice time, Gramma.

    Cheers,
    Terry
  • edited 10:46AM
    hi Terry, thanks for the tips! I know it's a long time!
    It's hard to imagine giving somebody I haven't met kitchen knives as a gift, but I guess when I arrive things will make more sense.
    Thanks, Clare
  • edited 10:46AM
    Hi Terry thanks so much for all your information, I wish you could have a word with some of the idiots on the facebook page for Brisas Guardalavaca, there are a lot of people on there seriously messing with the cuban economy, I tried to tell the but sadly if fell on deaf ears, can you believe people spend 100 canadian dollars on cheap rubbish to give to staff as tips!!!! I will be tipping in CUC for good service as you advised. thanks
  • edited 10:46AM
    I wish those people could turn into a fly on the wall after they've left the room... they would DIE FROM SHAME if they were forced to hear what the Cubans were really saying about them.

    Oh well, the world is filled with naive/dumb/egotistical tourists who think they "know what's best" for citizens of a foreign country and culture/language they know nothing about...

    Cheers,
    Terry
  • edited 10:46AM
    I guess i will not bother with the school supplies....but I am thinking about powdered milk. Is there a milk shortage? Usually go to a med office....would that be good place to drop it off. We are staying in Gaurdalavaca
  • edited 10:46AM
    Milk is supplied free to all kids up to 7 years old.

    Cheers,
    Terry
  • edited 10:46AM
    Hi Terry,

    Thanks so much for your valuable insights. My wife and I are traveling to Cuba in a few weeks from Australia and had heard so many different versions of appropriate behavior, nice to have some clarity after reading through these posts

    Aprecio mucho

    Jeff
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