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bringing gifts to Cuba

Jennika

TRIBE Member
Hi all,

Tearer and I are going to a resort outside of Santiago de Cuba the first week of April. I want to bring clothes, school supplies and other gifts to give to people down there but I'm unsure of the proper way to do it. any tips on what to bring and how to dispense it? I want to maximixe this opportunity to share and be charitable.

I remember reading in the NC thread a while back that often the women like if you give them make-up and body lotions. do they have to be un-opened or will they take good contidion used products?

any tips would be great, it's my first time going there and I want to give back.
 

AshG

Member
yeah my bro and his wife did this when we went down last august.

there's not easy way to distribute as its rumoured that a lot of the distribution venues are corrupt.

we took a moped tour around parts of the island(my god, the poverty in some places is astounding...) and stopped along some select spots to hand deliver pencils, etc.

best we did was to get off the beaten tourist path, and hit up some more remote villages.

also, leave things for the maids wherever you're staying.
there are strict rules about them asking for things from foreigners, but just leave some stuff for them.
 

littlenutty

TRIBE Member
anything that is in good condition is usually well received, its not like that have something to compare it to...

when i was in trinidad i brought make-up that i didn't use much, shower gels and soaps that i had accumulated over the years, clothes, razors, hair elastics, slippers, old purses that i never used and a bunch of old magazines.

They went crazy for the magazines, i'd never seen anything like it before. In particular there was this 20 year old maid named Ja and she never spoke... so quiet and timid and i told her she could take some magazines if she liked. She took a couple copies of COSMO (haha) and she never put it down. She kept it with her at every moment. Its was amusing and sweet at the same time. I can just picture her reading '101 ways to blow his mind in bed'....LOOOOOOOOL
 

PRIMAL

TRIBE Member
When I went to Cuba I took a whole bunch of perfume testers that you get at Cosmetic counters, jeans, any type of toiletries or clothing.

I suggest giving unused stuff (toiletries)to Jen. You don't want a situation where you're giving free stuff and someone asks you where their muffin tops are. Don't just give the muffin stump.

I gave a lot of my stuff to the maids, the entertainment staff (which works harder than anyone else in the resort) and an occassional item of clothing to people when I was in town.

ps. The weather should be awesome when you go, I've always had amazing luck when I go in April to islands.

You two have fun.
 

chooch

TRIBE Member
That is a cool story about the Cosmo!

A friend of mine would go to thrift stores before going to Cuba and when she left simply leave behind the tooth paste and other products she'd brought for use on holiday.

Oh...also, condoms are a cherished comodity there as well. ;)
 
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madnezz

TRIBE Member
whatever you do- DO NOT GIVE THINGS TO CHILDREN.

The worst thing you can do when giving gifts is to give them to children. The Cubans get really upset when they see this, because it encourages the children to waste their life away begging from the tourists, instead of getting an education (the education system is free down there, and quite good).

When we went, we brought stuff like asprin, toothbrushes, toothpaste.... the average Cuban makes $8 A MONTH so anything is good.

Be prepared to tip your ass off! Bring lots of $1 bills.
 

madnezz

TRIBE Member
oh yeah also, when i was in a market, I got asked a lot for Pens or pencils.... Bring lots of those!!

It's hard to imagine what to bring since we're so used to just having everything here... If you have any kind of hat, like baseball hats and stuff, they'll probably ask you for it...

Be careful though, cause if you're in public and you start giving shit away, you might get a whole lot of people coming after you....
 

keld

TRIBE Member
my friends in egypt had this ken doll (of barbie fame) that sorta looked egyptian. they'd take pictures of it standing in front of shit like the pyramids and whatnot. everyone was always laughing and pointing, especially the men (at us playing with dolls), but then they'd put a genuine offer in on the doll - to give to their kids. so i'd stop by a dollar store and buy a couple of those cheap ass barbie knockoffs if i were you. do they make cuban barbie?
 
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keld

TRIBE Member
also, Re: the pens. my friend who lived there says the kids want pens from english people since they think an english pen will help them learn english easier.
 

Jennika

TRIBE Member
wow, awsome tips people. thank you so much (good point about the stumps al).

I have a knapsack worth of good summer clothes that I was thinking of bringing down to give. Do the hotel staff take that as well or should I go into the towns and give it away there?
 

OTIS

TRIBE Member
Gotta love what almost 50 years of economic terrorism does to any country that challenges the status quo.
 

PRIMAL

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by keld
also, Re: the pens. my friend who lived there says the kids want pens from english people since they think an english pen will help them learn english easier.
that's sort of cute
 

$80 Undershirt

TRIBE Member
If you really want to hook them up bring down any type of brand name stuff like Nike, Adidas etc. It can be used as log as its in good condition. They love that stuff cause they can't get it.
 
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silver1

TRIBE Member
One other thing to note (from what I was told when down there) is that bartenders at the resorts have to pay a monthly fee to tend bar because they have the potential to make decent money from it. They basically work for tips alone.

So it's a nice gesture to pop in a buck or two each day to the guy who serves you your unlimited alcohol because they really appreciate it and will treat you in kind in return. Be it from making you stiff drinks or even giving you a bottle to drink after they close up the bar (for the resorts that stop serving at midnight or whatever time).

Also, and I can't stress this enough. Bring a good sized plastic drinking cup along with you for the trip. They give out drinks in these teeny tiny plastic cups and you'll find yourself constantly hitting up the bar every few minutes for a refill. But if you bring your own large cup, they have no problems filling it for you so you don't have to hit them up as often.

Let the uninformed drink the "barely larger then a shot glass" drinks like suckers. ;)
 

lucinda

TRIBE Member
Thanks for starting this thread! JAR and I are going to Varadero the first week of april too and I was wondering about that aswell! Very excited about our trip :D :D :D
 

KillaLadY

TRIBE Member
silver1, that's an awesome tip... thank you.
Just like Brett told me, since I am going to the same resort (Breezes Jibacoa) as he did.
 

lucinda

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by silver1
One other thing to note (from what I was told when down there) is that bartenders at the resorts have to pay a monthly fee to tend bar because they have the potential to make decent money from it. They basically work for tips alone.

So it's a nice gesture to pop in a buck or two each day to the guy who serves you your unlimited alcohol because they really appreciate it and will treat you in kind in return. Be it from making you stiff drinks or even giving you a bottle to drink after they close up the bar (for the resorts that stop serving at midnight or whatever time).

Also, and I can't stress this enough. Bring a good sized plastic drinking cup along with you for the trip. They give out drinks in these teeny tiny plastic cups and you'll find yourself constantly hitting up the bar every few minutes for a refill. But if you bring your own large cup, they have no problems filling it for you so you don't have to hit them up as often.

Let the uninformed drink the "barely larger then a shot glass" drinks like suckers. ;)




Thank you soooo much for that tip!
 
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Jennika

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by silver1


Also, and I can't stress this enough. Bring a good sized plastic drinking cup along with you for the trip. They give out drinks in these teeny tiny plastic cups and you'll find yourself constantly hitting up the bar every few minutes for a refill. But if you bring your own large cup, they have no problems filling it for you so you don't have to hit them up as often.

Let the uninformed drink the "barely larger then a shot glass" drinks like suckers. ;)

plus bringing your own cup is better for the environment than throwing away 100 small plastic cups... good tip, thanks :)
 

silver1

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by KillaLadY
silver1, that's an awesome tip... thank you.
Just like Brett told me, since I am going to the same resort (Breezes Jibacoa) as he did.
Heh. When I went down, I brought with me a 1 L plastic beer mug (those kinds that came with a T-Shirt inside). It definitely saved me the aggrivation of running up to the bar every 5 minutes.

P.S. Now that we're settled in, Sandy (wife) and I will come by and say hi sometime if that's cool.
 

KillaLadY

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by silver1

P.S. Now that we're settled in, Sandy (wife) and I will come by and say hi sometime if that's cool.
The door is always open, just let me know when, because Angel starts barking when people knock on the door. LOL People get really intimidated of a 75 pound pit and then realise what a big suck she is.
 

Moe

TRIBE Member
Have fun in Cuba....... I love the island

Bring lots of little candies and chocolates for the kids... also I went to the dollar store and bought tons of little toys and water guns.... the little cubanos loved that shit

I don't think little kids really want pens... did you want pens when you where 7???

cheers to you for having a big heart!!
 
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