Here is the final part of the great Cuban adventure:
The Cuban family that rescued Mike and me (Gloria) when we crashed our rented motor scooter refused to accept any money, although they looked like they could use some desperately.
The next day, after we had been looked after at the hospital, Mike announced he had to “get back on the horse” and drive the scooter back to our rescuers’ house. We decided to put together a gift bag in the hope that they would accept it. We assembled what we could from our belongings. I gave a pair of red sandals with Velcro straps so they could be adjusted to fit. We added one of tall Mike’s T shirts, which someone could probably wear as a dress! I went through my purse and toiletries, finding items like pens, a bag of peppermints, a sealed pack of gum, soap, a nail file, a comb, creams, lotions and potions. We didn’t want to give anything insulting, such as used toothbrushes, half-empty tubes of toothpaste, or worn underwear, although they might have been able to use them. Although we didn’t have much of value to give, it was better than nothing, we thought.
Mike took off on the scooter while I stayed on the bed with my bandaged leg elevated. A couple of hours later he returned, saying he met Raquel and her husband Bartolo in the house, and offered the bag of goodies, which Raquel instantly took into the dark recesses of the house. Mike took some photos and as he left, came upon Gisella returning home. Had she been there earlier, she might have refused even our few items.
Other people at our resort told us that when they go to Cuba they pack new underwear, baby clothes, T shirts and other items to give away. The truth about Cuba seems to be that even with money, there is just not that much to buy, especially in remote areas. While their economy is based on tourism, sugar cane, tobacco and rum, they don’t have much manufacturing and everyday goods that Canadians take for granted are simply not that available. If you’re going to Cuba, you might want to pack a few basic extras to give to people who might need them.
We are seriously thinking of mailing a package of bandages and first aid supplies to the hospital in Rafael Freyre/Santa Lucia, Province of Holguin, Cuba. Mike says it might not make it to the hospital where we were treated, but it should get into the Cuban system somewhere. Or do you have a better suggestion?