Bringing gifts for Cubans

Several of us brought small gifts for the people to people part of the program. Since we can no longer visit schools, due to an unfortunate misunderstanding with a prior tour guest, we visited a neighborhood outreach group (Muraleando) which uses art to improve the neighborhood and teach children. Gifts of art supplies and school supplies were most welcome there.

One member of our group, based on information from Cuban friends, brought powdered milk, spices, dried soups, and pastas which she gave to a non-profit group. We heard that the paladares (private restaurants) welcomed gifts of herbs and spices for cooking, which are hard to get.

Small toiletries, cosmetics, soap were also welcome gifts. A few members of our group were approached by people on the street asking for soap or for milk for their children.

As in any travel, discretion and respect is paramount in gifts. Some left gifts of appreciation for the hotel maids.

Comments

  • jpelham--

    Thanks for this information.

    We will be going in October.

    We tend to pack lightly (probably too lightly for our traveling companions who will get tired of seeing us in the same outfits!) so will have room for extra things.

    Is it possible to be more specific?

    Soap, no problem. But milk? Does one buy powdered milk in individual packets? What spices would be good?

    As you mentioned we want to be respectful.

    Want to mention the charity Pack for a Purpose (http://www.packforapurpose.org/) for any traveler having a little extra room in their luggage.

    Thanks--
  • I just returned from spending a week in Cuba. One thing I was asked for constantly was pens, especially for school children. It was teachers who asked for these.

    Everywhere I went the electrical current was the same as in the US, so no need to bring converters.

    Leave your laptops at home and use the internet provided at larger hotels.

    There are many great souvenirs to bring home so be sure to bring a little extra cash. American credit cards are no good in Cuba. The best way to convert money is to bring Canadian dollars or euros.

    One last note, Cuba is a safe place to travel. There are no guns on the streets and there are government cameras installed everywhere. Occasionally there will be black outs. Guard your money well and keep your passport and visas in the hotel. I stayed in a private home and my door did not lock, so I carried all of my important information with me the second to last night of my trip (this was not a Tauck trip). My passport wallet was ripped from my neck, and I lost everything. The good thing is I was able to get a new passport the next day at the Swiss Embassy (where there is a US Interest). Next time I travel to Cuba, I will go with Tauck!
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