Small gifts to Cuban locals

Old Jan 4th, 2003, 04:31 PM
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Small gifts to Cuban locals

In February, we are travelling to Cuba - 3 days in Havana, 4 in Vardero and have been reading some past posts about taking small gifts such as toiletries etc. We are more than happy to do this but wonder who would accept these (other than the hotel housekeeping staff) wouldn't regular tipping be more the norm for waiters and other staff?
Old Jan 4th, 2003, 08:14 PM
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What we generally do is tip in US dollars, bring pencils, erasers, and paper (any school supplies) for the kids and I bring my Clinique "freebies" for the housekeeping. It is an extra treat as make-up is hard to come by and very expensive. Candy is a hit with everyone. But again, a tip in US dollars is the best with these other items as extras. If it had to be one or the other, I'd choose the dollar!
Old Jan 5th, 2003, 11:34 AM
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The hotel staff get a lot of these things, and you should still give these things to them. But the buffet waiters, coffee pourers and servers, entertainment staff all appreciate these things. Cubans are only allotted 2 bars of soap per family per month. I alone go through one a week and those are North American soap. The Cuban soap that they give their people (not the hotel tourist soap) is horrible. Anyway, the people begging you for something on the street love getting soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant and clothes. You will find that you wish you had brought more.
Old Jan 5th, 2003, 03:00 PM
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we are traveling to cuba in late february for the first time. We would appreciate any info and/or tips for first time travelers. We would also like any info you have on beach condo's and/or websites regarding beachfront resorts.any comments would be appreciated.Gracias!
Old Jan 5th, 2003, 03:42 PM
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I doubt there is anything like a beach condo in Cuba, but for beachfront resorts (which they pretty well all are), you might want to check
There are several Melia's in Cuba and we've stayed at the Paradisus in Holguin and just this last November at the Melia Cayo Guillermo.
Anything you can fit into your suitcase that you want to give is good. To the room maids, we've left a pile of some good old good (packed into one of those vacuum compressed bags), boxes of Smarties, makeup, etc. My husband dropped some unused (but in great condition) caps to the men in the dive shop. To the resort gardener who was proudly showing off his double hibiscus flowers, to the waiters and waitresses and bartenders, a dollar here and a dollar there won't go amiss.
If this is your first time to Cuba, be prepared for the airport washrooms..the toilet paper doesn't come off a roll and in a lot of supply! Either bring your own packets of Kleenex or have some U.S. $1 ready to hand to the washroom attendant so you can get some t.p.
Old Jan 5th, 2003, 04:44 PM
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Lots of excellent replies. Thanks. On "rants & raves" Read of "challenging" bathrooms at Nacional in Havana (We're booked there). Any more info? Thanks
Old Jan 5th, 2003, 05:09 PM
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I agree with most of the comments on this thread. In addition to the mentioned toiletries, one thing I always do is to bring a small English/Spanish dictionary with me. It's lots of help during your vacation, and I have never brought one back home with me. I always leave it with a waiter/staff/helpful person who can use it to improve their language abilities. It is always appreciated.

If your staying at the Nacional, be sure to plan an evening at the Parisienne Club in the hotel. You reach it just outside the front main doors and to your right. It is a great dinner show. You can also just catch the show. It runs about 2 hours and offers a Vegas style show. Very similar to the Tropicana, but indoors. Try to sit near the front to get an unobstructed view. A few bucks tip to the maitre'd will get you well seated. I suggest this as the only drawback to the show is that they continue meal/drink table service throughout the show. Annoying to have a waiter stand in front of you while he serves the next table. If you are at the front, you can avoid this problem. The front right corner has some nice tables for two just at the side of the stage. If the front is full, you can also get a good view from the balcony at the rear. Farther away, but an unobstructed view.

Also plan to take a walk up "La Rampa" to the best icecream in Havana at "Parque Coppelia". Its at most a 10 minute walk up the hill, hence the rampa name.

Have fun and enjoy your stay.

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