Sunday, February 22, 2015

Part 1 of 5: Leave a Bag in Havana -- Why go? and "What should I take?"

The following is an excerpt from a book called

Leave a Bag in Havana

A Short List of Things to Do When You Visit Cuba

Bring a soft-sided bag and
pay lees for the carrier
This short book will give you some ideas about places to visit and things to do that will help you encounter interesting people.

Turn your next vacation into a “service adventure,” an adventure that includes serving others.

Tip about the suitcase on the previous page:  By the way, don’t take a hard-sided suitcase.  Take a one-time-use, thin suitcase because you plan to leave what you can in Cuba.  Take a bag that is lightweight so you can maximize what you take there (to leave behind).

This book contains suggestions for people who have dreamed about going to Cuba and who might wonder, “What should I bring to leave behind?”

I assume that you see the value in exchanges between two cultures.  I went to the Soviet Union in 1969 before d├ętente, in 1975 during relaxed relations with the superpower (even while the government treated some citizens poorly), and during the restructuring of Russia in 1989.  My tourism dollars “supported” a harsh regime (and several dozen locals benefited from my purchases).  I left behind Bic pens in 1975 and who knows what kid benefited from that exchange?  (I got several decorated pins in exchange).

I’ve heard people argue that the current regime in Cuba is “propped up” by the tourists from Canada (over one million visitors annually).  I’ve witnessed locals in Cuba getting medical supplies and consumer items (pens, cameras, computers, USB flash drives).  I’m not sure how much impact or what kind of impact these tourist visits have on the economy, but I know that I learned from locals when I traveled to the Soviet Union and Cuba. 

I’d rather participate by traveling to Cuba and sharing some of the items that I’ve accumulated than stay away and withhold these items from people who appear to be nice.

A search of YouTube with the words  “what to bring to Cuba” revealed these items in 2015:

It appears likely that the person who posted the video made the lives of some Cubans a little easier.  That’s why I went to Havana with an extra bag.  I hope you are persuaded to keep reading.

When I went to the Soviet Union, I exchanged pens for a pin like this.  This book will give you places where you can meet locals and return home with  more significant souvenirs.

Leave only footprints and bubbles, take only photos and memories.  (a combination of quotes from a sign in a U.S. National Park).   The quote appears in a blog post

“What Should I Take to Cuba?”

Medical supplies
School supplies:  Pens, Notebooks
The format can be .mp4, which is easily played on any computer.  The content should be educational and tasteful.  If you wouldn’t show the video to your grandmother or if your school principal would be offended, don’t bring it.  Videos on CD, DVD or USB


Laptop computer
Feminine items

click on  this video link 
What else might you give to parents with their first infant?  You might think about anything that you have found useful and you could bring that.

A simple plug-in phone is okay.  Someone will find it useful.

**Take magazines and books to Cuba Libro at Calle 25 and 19.  See chapter 4.

This person gave an animated piece-by-piece description about what she took to the Long Island.

What else?  Check these websites and blogs:

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