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KimBowers Nov 29th, 2017 05:33 AM

Taking Items to Cuba
Good morning.

I am heading to Varadero, Cuba for the first time in February.

A friend of mine who went years ago told us to bring items from home for the people that work at our resort. ie. Nice soaps and shampoos, colouring books, crayons for the kids that sort of thing. She said they absolutely loved it. As some items they can't get in Cuba.

I don't want to offend or insult the people that work at our resort. Is this sort of stuff still welcome? If it is anything else you can suggest we bring?

Thank you


annhig Nov 29th, 2017 07:22 AM

Kim, I think that you would be surprised what can be obtained in Cuba nowadays, particularly by people in Varadero who have access to lots of foreign tourists. This is what people had to say on the Cuba forum on TA:

We didn't go to Varadero but did a tour of the west of the island mainly staying in Casas particulares. We tried to tip reasonably, and took some packets of local biscuits with us to leave as gifts for our hosts.

you have time between now and Feb to do some more research but I would be surprised if you decided that taking toiletries and stationery is the way to go.

KimBowers Nov 29th, 2017 09:32 AM

Thank you for the info, I wasn’t sure if this was old info so wanted to check.

annhig Nov 29th, 2017 10:36 AM

It does strike me though, Kim, that with the damage caused by the hurricane, there may be need for certain things that we wouldn't necessarily think of. You might like to try to contact a charity that is working in Cuba to see what they say they need.

suze Nov 29th, 2017 12:28 PM

This is not specific to Cuba, but I would never give staff at a hotel or resort personal items like soap or shampoo. I think it could be considered an insult.

Stick to tips in $$. Toys or books for their kids is OK in addition, if you want to do something along those lines.

Or above, the best idea of contacting local social agencies who are trying to help people after the recent damages if you want to help in a bigger way.

KimBowers Nov 29th, 2017 02:51 PM

Annhig, that is a awesome idea I will do that.

I didn’t mean soap as in basic Dove type stuff but just the speciality type ones for the ladies because they don’t get them there....or I thought they didn’t get in Cuba due to the years of restrictions That is why I asked I didn’t want to insult the people.

Thanks for all the insight


annhig Nov 30th, 2017 09:52 AM

I didn’t mean soap as in basic Dove type stuff but just the speciality type ones for the ladies because they don’t get them there....or I thought they didn’t get in Cuba due to the years of restrictions. That is why I asked I didn’t want to insult the people.>>

Kim, I never thought that you did, but ironically cubans who work at Varadero are probably the amongst the best off of ordinary Cubans because of their proximity to tourists. Of course the cleaners etc don't have the same opportunities that bar staff and tour guides have for making tips, but they are likely to do pretty well out of the visitors. Ideally you want to get your gifts/help to those who do not have access to tourists which is why I suggested the charity route.

Do come back and let us know how you get on.

suze Nov 30th, 2017 11:42 AM

Yes I understand you meant fancy soaps, but my comment remains the same. My experience is mostly Mexico and some Jamaica, but that's my personal feeling on the topic or giving unrequested personal items.

What working people can use most is tips in cash :-)

Or if I want to bring a gift more than that, I pick up a bag of colorful-wrapped made in Seattle candies at the airport before I fly out, and leave those along with the tip on the bed the first day.

SusieQQ Dec 3rd, 2017 09:40 AM

Unless you are donating to a particular charity or cause (which you would need to determine items needed ahead of time). You should tip in cash (in CUC, not the peso). The workers get paid in pesos but the tourist CUC gives them the ability to buy items not normally available to them with pesos.

Axiom2017 Dec 19th, 2017 05:21 PM

In 1989, I think this was the first time that I traveled to Cuba with a small group. ...had much time to do as we damn well liked, but during that time many things (places) were limited. Today, with the restoration that has gone on, you'll be busy each day and night if you desire. But to answer your query, basic products, i.e. bars of soap are available, but apparently these products are expensive. In 2015 I journeyed on a P-to-P via Many of us took crayons, ink/ball point pens, toiletries, medicines, i.e aspirin and the like. I gave to our stellar tour guide to take to a residence for seniors. We were suppose to go (I wasn't going because I had brought items: boxes of teas, Hershey chocolate syrup, condoms and lube to give to the owner/operator of Cafe Libro, a bookstore of sorts, cafe, community center. Try to go there if you can. I also donated magazines. All items were appreciated.]

Check out the website that I mentioned previously. There is an area at this site which addresses your initial inquiry.

Go and enjoy immensely. I love Cuba and all of the people who I have met. Overall, they're warm and welcoming and desirous to relate on varying levels with one.

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