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  • ronnie
    May 12, 2011 - 10:04

    "Cuba for beginners" articles should be written by old hands ***for beginners*** not ***by beginners***. As someone who has been to Cuba 8 times I recognized many mistakes this well-intentioned woman made. (I would *never* give children money to distribute as tips!!! They are completely vulnerable if someone figures out they're carrying money around!) We tip and share with Cubans but the overwhelming emphasis here on giving things away is really over the top. She is lucky that the basically good Cuban people just took all her stuff and advantage of her naiveity..

  • wavy
    May 12, 2011 - 08:09

    I have as soft a heart as anyone I know, and please forgive me for saying so, but the "Cuban experience" described here sounds more like an humanitarian mission than a vacation. Sorry, there's a time and place for everything. I'm not out to save the world when I'm trying to relax, forget about the troubles of the world for a few days and enjoy myself. Such agresssive behaviour and expectations from the locals would only turn me off and inhibit me from ever returning or visiting in the first place. Thanks for the warning.

    • ronnie
      May 12, 2011 - 10:08

      Wavy, in our experience this kind of aggressive behavior is limited to the Varadero area and Havana. Varadero is very touristy and I am told (we avoid it) that the resort staff and the local people have come to view the tourists as targets for acquiring stuff. We have in no way experienced this level of aggresstion in any of the other places we've stayed (Guardalavaca, Holguin, Cayo Largo, Cayo Santa Maria, Jibacoa, etc.)

  • Alison Stoodley
    May 11, 2011 - 15:20

    Excellent article Susan. Another word of caution to tourists laden with hand-outs, most of the items are sold on the black market and not used for 'my children' or 'family' at all. Just another reason to give small amounts to everyone instead of large amounts to one. In any case, the fact that the best job in Cuba is a resort maid, is pretty sad and they do appreciate anything you can part with. I remember waiting for a connector to St.John's in Toronto one February with nothing more than pants, sandals and a T-shirt because everything else I had to wear , coat included, was left in Cuba.

  • Kent
    May 11, 2011 - 11:35

    The Helms-Burton act is archiac... It is no longer relelvant, yet the States continues to press this poor country based on Cold-War baggage.. Absolutely needlss.

  • jsb
    May 11, 2011 - 11:07

    The embargo does not prevent Cuba from importing tennis shoes. They can trade with any other country in the world. The reason why toothpaste, tennis shoes and soap are scarce is because of poverty that the socialist system is incapable of relieving.

  • Luis
    May 11, 2011 - 09:29

    I like your article, it reflects the real Cubans. Hope many other people will do the same (Note: I am a cuban living in US).