Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
Giving Donations and Gifts
It is common for foreigners to bring small gifts to give out to local Cubans. While
gifts and donations are never expected, they are always well received. Considering
that the average Cuban is relatively poor and the cost of goods in the country is re-
latively high, most Cubans do not have much economic slack to spend on non-es-
sentials. Furthermore, due to the American embargo, it is often expensive or im-
possible to purchase certain foreign goods. Small, everyday items, which foreign-
ers take for granted, are considered major gifts in Cuba and will make a huge dif-
ference to the recipient.
Handing out small gifts will also make you instantly popular with locals and is a
great way to make friends. These friends will open hundreds of doors for you and
help you to understand the country and culture. Don't feel shy at all about giving
gifts. The average Cuban is proud, but they are more than happy to accept friendly
It is important to note that if you are planning to bring some gifts, you do not have
to go out of your way to purchase new items. You can save a lot of money by
simply bringing used items, which are still in working condition. Perhaps you have
a few old, but functional, things around your house that you were planning to throw
out, or sell at a garage sale. Consider bringing them to Cuba instead.
The best gifts are small household items and clothes. Towels make great gifts
since in Cuba they can be expensive and are often of poor quality. The same goes
for bed sheets. Shoes are also key items. It is not uncommon for Cubans to wear
their shoes well after most westerners would say they had reached expiration.
Cubans repair their shoes constantly and try to make them last as long as pos-
sible. A good, comfortable pair of walking shoes will be a life changer. If you feel
uncomfortable giving away old shoes, you can simply leave the shoes on the side
of the road. In no time, somebody will pass by to claim them as their own. Kid's
shoes are especially prized.
Clothing and accessories such as t-shirts, caps, underwear, socks, jeans and
backpacks are always great. Baby clothing is also much appreciated. Just keep in
mind that the climate in Cuba is hot, so don't plan on giving away winter outerwear.
Books are another fantastic gift option. While Spanish books are abundant on the
island, foreign language books are very rare. A few English, French or German
books or magazines will make a huge difference to somebody trying to learn a for-
eign language. Along this same theme, electronic media such as recent movies
and popular television shows are always in strong demand, especially by teens. A
few DVDs or a small USB memory stick filled with media would represent a very
thoughtful gift.
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