|Subject: Re: Havana and Varadero|
I can't give you any information about Havana or Varadero but I did visit a resort near Cuenfuegos a few years ago. Yes, they are happy to get American dollars as tips. You can also buy tourist money so that you have coins to dole out rather than just folding money.
We found that they were happy to have any left over toiletries. We gave our first aid supplies to the resort nurse - we hadn't used any of the tummy meds, etc.!
We also brought some classroom materials (coloured pens, Canadiana, of course!) which we gave to a friendly association for a country school where one of the re. We received a thank you letter from the school principal. However, I recently read that you should clear any contributions through the Cuban Embassy or unusual amounts of merchandize could be confiscated on arrival. When we were there, we saw tourists handing out ballpoint pens on the street. We preferred not to do so and felt comfortable because we had done our bit.
Here is a quote from the Canadian government travel report:
Tourists to Cuba often bring items for donation to Cuban friends, families, schools, churches, etc. It should be noted that Cuban customs may seize anything that they do not consider to be for the tourist's personal use. Donations of all types, whether by individuals, companies, organizations, or businesses, must be coordinated through the Cuban Embassy in Ottawa (see below), which in turn will coordinate with the one agency in Cuba that handles donations: ICAP (Instituto Cubano de Amistad con los Pueblos, tel.: 55-2420/ e-mail: icap ).
For further information, contact the Embassy of the Republic of Cuba, 388 Main Street, Ottawa, ON, K1S 1E3 (tel.: 613-563-0141/ fax: 613-563-0068/ e-mail: cuba / Web site: www.embacuba.ca) or call the Cuban Consulate in Montreal (514-843-8897) or Toronto (416-234-8181).
To see more details, see the website: http://www.voyage.gc.ca/dest/ctry/country-en.asp?country=69000
Cuba is a wonderful country with terrible financial problems. The people are well educated and friendly. Have a great time.
Frances Toronto, Canada