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Functional items for the Cuban men

Burlington, Canada
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5,555 posts
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Functional items for the Cuban men

Hey all,

I know how many of you veterans feel about gifting the Cuban people but I truly feel I should be bringing something of substance especially for the Cuban guys.

I'm not intending to hand out things indiscrimently...I want to selectively provide significantly useful items to those I feel are most deserving or simply need a hand up. Things that will help the men better earn a sustainable living...not a few pesos, mp3 player, or silly trinkets. The old adage "give a man a fish and you feed him for a day - teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime" is sort of where I'm going with this. I'm looking for some ideas.

I'm sure my wife will be loading up her carry on with all kinds of dollar store goodies for the maids...that's her deal. But I'd like to bring fishing line, fishing lures, guitar strings, small tool kits, bicycle parts, spark plugs, etc. etc. for the Cuban guys. Does anyone have any other good suggestions along this line?

Also, I'd like to know the details about how you would bring an extra suitcase full of items for the local aid station. Thanks very much for your help.

Nova Scotia, Canada
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3,840 posts
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1. Re: Functional items for the Cuban men

I always take my friend some razor blades and shaving gel.The gel is hard to get and quite expensive by Cuban standards.He can only get the cheap disposible razors and very much appreciates the more comfortable ones I bring.One blade will last a month so,about 15$ buys him a comfortable shave for about a year.I cant imagine scraping my own face with those terrible things

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999 posts
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2. Re: Functional items for the Cuban men

Razors, deoderants, shaving creme,shower gels etc. and black socks go down a treat.

Thats what I give out to my friends, and they really appreciate it, as well as soap and toothpaste, and some brushes.

I was even asked somewhat embarressed by one friend, if I could bring them some underpants next time I come over.

Port Colborne...
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3,603 posts
17 reviews
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3. Re: Functional items for the Cuban men


if the suitcase that you are asking about is the medical goods, go on the internet and go to Not Just Tourist web site and contact the closest office and they will set you up.

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74 posts
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4. Re: Functional items for the Cuban men

How about bungie cords, tie wraps, miscellaneous screws, nuts etc, multi-tools, screw driver sets, duct tape, etc, etc - we usually take a bunch of this type stuff with us - and we buy it at Dollarama. I was able to get a fishing reel for $2.00 and some tackle this year at the same store! Cost is not great to us but it's very appreciated down there. We typically don't give this away to the wait staff or bartender, rather the security guards, gardeners, maintenance people or local people we see meet, as they are less likely to get gifts.

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205 posts
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5. Re: Functional items for the Cuban men

Hi - As previous poster suggested, contact the Not Just Tourists organization - there is one in Ottawa - and bring down a 10KG suitcase of medical supplies. They will advise you that lately some tourists have run into problems at customs when bringing in the cases. However, we do it every time and it's really worth the 10 minutes delay while they go through the case to check the contents.. There is a letter of explanation in Spanish as well as English that you give to the customs. You can ask for a clinic or hospital reasonably close to your resort and then you experience the countryside as you get to deliver it.

They have such a need for simple medical supplies and imho it's one of the best gifts to give.

Toronto, Canada
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141 posts
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6. Re: Functional items for the Cuban men


Next to all the other stuff already mentioned: fishing hooks and line. Just go to the Canadian Tire or Walkmart and buy LARGE hooks and at least 15lb if not much heavier line. After Christmas it is normally cheaper.

As you say in one of the first responses; Give the men a fish and he can feed himself, give him a hook and line and he can feed his family.

The larger and heavier line and hooks the better. It will be used for (deep) sea fishing and river hooks and 8lb line will not do.

Just give them one or 2 hooks and they will be your friends forever. Your cost: about $0.25 cents. The best place to hand this out is at the governmet pier on the lft side of Club Amigo mayanabo> If you are there at the end of january you will see me fishing there...

London, Canada
Destination Expert
for Playa Santa Lucia, Camaguey Province
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4,268 posts
114 reviews
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7. Re: Functional items for the Cuban men

All these suggestions are good BUT make sure if you are planning on carrying a donated case of medical supplies you call the airline you are using first to make sure they allow an extra case for humanitarian aid and donations. Some airlines will not allow this. If you are travelling Cubana, the donated case counts for your second case of 23 kgs.

We have taken bicycle tires and tubes in the past, they aren't to heavy and will fold up in the case. Bicycle repair kits are good too. Duct tape is useful. Boxers are well received and socks too. You can never go wrong taking any kind of shoes and socks for kids, men & women. Someone will be able to use them.

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8. Re: Functional items for the Cuban men

unfortuantely NJT is not sending suitcases with tourists to cuba at this time :( at least thats what the toronto affiliate website says...


one thing to bring that i don't see mentioned very often is spices....black pepper, cayenne pepper etc. that was the suggestion of the pasta chef at caracol.

have a great trip!

Ontario, Canada
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6,608 posts
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9. Re: Functional items for the Cuban men

All the suggestions are great listed above. Fishing line over 15 lbs and bicycle tire repair kits are always in my suitcase for the men. In addition, I always bring gloves that the men can use for working outside with. I think PrincessAuto sells them pretty cheap here in Ontario.

Athens, Greece
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1,074 posts
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10. Re: Functional items for the Cuban men

The problem is not the handing out of gifts "indiscriminately," it is the handing out directly. Yes, mp3 players and the like are far more problematic, but however practical and useful the items you give are, you are still encouraging begging (and the erroneous view of all tourists as rich fairy godmothers), and your donations are still likely to end up in the hands of the very people who need them the least, ie the people who work or simply live where there is a steady stream of tourists.

I urge you to consider donating through a charity or aid organization, unless giving to a pre-existing friend.

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