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Useful gift ideas for casa hosts


#1

I am planning to bring some small gifts for the Cuban casa hosts that we’ll be staying with on our upcoming trip.

I want to bring something that is valuable to the ordinary Cuban, not so much because it is expensive, but maybe because it is hard to get.

From what I understand, sewing supplies, toiletries and over-the-counter medicines are in low supply. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

What types of toiletries are most valued or appreciated? There are many, many things that someone in North America could pick up quite cheaply at the dollar store or the travel-size section of a superstore. But what to choose?

micro sewing kits?
Q-tips?
tissues?
tampons?
pads?
condoms?
advil/ibuprofen?
anti-histamines?
eye drops?
toothpaste?
toothbrush?

I’m open for any ideas.


#2

Hello @fl4ian … I would say that for the Cuban casa host would be of value anything that they can use to serve better their clients such as you. So small towels, bed sheets, reusable cups, cutlery, soap holders, toothbrush holders…


#3

fl4ian: everything on your list is available one hour away in Miami. Any Cuban really wanting any of those things can have them delivered on one of the next days flights.


#4

I appreciate your response, as I had no idea that something like that was within reach of regular Cubans. The image we have of Cuba is one of people having far too few resources.


#5

They need money to pay for those things and that’s why we always recommend tipping for great service in CUCs. Let the recipient decide what to buy.
Admin has family in Cuba and knows some of the things a casa owner might need but an email with your casa owner might provide insight into the specific needs for them. There’s no harm asking.


#6

fl4ian: it is true that Cubans are lacking in financial resources just not availability of goods to purchase. Therefore the best thing is a financial resource, i.e. cash, when you feel it is appropriate. Or most simply put, two dollars is much more appreciated than two dollar store items.

Oh, I see Spunky just posted the same thought.


#7

And never think of Cubans as “poor” as you then have the risk of an honest Cuban pointing out that foreigners tend to be focused on having money and the things that money can buy while Cubans savor those things that money cannot buy such as family, society, culture, and caring for the most needy.


#8

Thanks everyone for the feedback and consensus. :slight_smile:


#9

Well I don’t know about casa owners but I do know that there is a serous shortage of ibuprofen and Tylenol Arthritis. It won’t help the casa owner much but I suspect they already do quite well. It certainly would help the local health clinic. I think giving money is like giving money and gift cards for Christmas. Not my idea of a gift.

Speaking of giving money, a bum in downtown Ottawa asked my wife for money yesterday. I’d have told her to get lost but my wife is a softy. She went to hand her a toonie and she said " I prefer bills":fearful::joy:


#10

The best gift for any Cuban women…a good quality SHARP knife for use in the kitchen. Not a big blade, just a regular utility kitchen knife. Every knife I have ever tried to use in Cuba was useful as a hatchet and nothing more. Those Wilshire knives in the self sharpening holders are perfect and I pick them up from Sally Anne and Goodwill for about $1.00 each. You just have to warn them about using them or they are going to loose a finger because they are not going to expect the sucker to actually slice something.
The ibuprofen in Cuba is the uncoated stuff and it would eat the stomach out of a goat. (I know how corrosive it is first hand) The coated stuff is really needed and cheap at Costco.


#11

I would definitely agree with you. As I was reading your post I wanted to say and knife sharpener would be great but you already mentioned it. They use knife for many things such as cutting fish bone, cutting bread and fixing loose screws. So most knifes are very dull and bad :frowning: I am sure they would appreciate good sharp knife or two! :crossed_swords:


#12

If you are bringing a quality kitchen knife as a gift, include or make sure there is a can opener in the house first.


#13

beansntoast makes a quite valid point about insuring a Cuban has a can opener before you bring them a knife. For those who did not get his point, a knife to a Cuban, no matter how good it is, will also do duty as a can opener, screwdriver, garden spade and a number of other things. I know from first hand experience. Being one who appreciates fine cutlery, I have brought good kitchen knives to 3 different Cubans over the years. All were junk 6 weeks later from having been used abusively for purposes other than cutting.

Recently a neighbor in Cuba, knowing that I always have a folding knife in my pocket, asked to borrow it. What I typically carry is a small but high quality piece of steel that is usually sharp enough to use as a razor in a pinch. But when he started to use it as a screwdriver, I had to rudely say “No!” and take it back.


#14

Gifts for casa owners to help their business:
Good quality kitchen knife and steel
can opener
pillow cases and or sheet set
shower curtain and rings
decent bath towels and WASH CLOTHS (few and far between in Cuba)
had towels for bath room
kitchen tea towels
non-stick frying pan ad plastic utensils
set of decent glasses
rectangular table cloth


#15

You can give anything, but it should be gifted with pure heart.