What gifts for Cubans are appreciated?
Why gifts and for whom?
If you want to take some gifts for Cubans with you to thank them or just to make them happy, you should consider a few things:
Who do you want to make happy?
- The owners of you casa particular is not a needy person. They have access to hard currency (via you) and can buy most of the stuff they need. The same goes to the barkeeper in you hotel and all other Cubans that come into direct contact with tourists. They are the rich people in Cuba.
- The average Cuban does not have access to hard currency and has totally different needs.
What to gift Cubans
- The first group mentioned above often sell the gifts you give them to the second. Thus giving a gift to the owner of your casa particular makes the divide between the haves and have-nots in Cuba bigger. They ‘need’ an iPhone, Nina Ricci perfume or a laptop. So if your goal is to make them happy, be prepared to bring big gifts to Cuba.
- The second group, the ‘regular’ Cubans has totally different needs. You make them happy with clothes (not the very old ones with holes and stains, Cubans have their pride too!), sewing machine needles, fishing gear and all kinds of things people need for daily survival.
- Some websites advocate bringing things like soap and shampoo. It is a shame to load up your luggage with those products, they are for sale at the local stores. So if you want to give a bar of soap to somebody, just buy one! (and soap is cheaper in Cuba…)
- You should bring stuff that they can use and that is not for sale in Cuba. Bring a bundle of pens and walk into a school to donate them. This makes for a nice excursion and the teachers will gladly show you the school. Bring medicine and donate it to a local clinic. This too will make for a great excursion where you can see behind the scenes of Cuba’s famous health care system.
So far a few tips on gifts for Cubans. Before you go however, give yourself a present. Buy our book (100% money back guarantee if you don’t learn a lot) and go to Cuba well prepared! You’ll at least save a few hours of your precious time!
And please don’t give to begging children. They should be in school!!!