This blog's title means "Cuban-hearted woman" (very loosely translated!). I settled on this name because it had a nice ring to my unschooled ear and, more importantly, because I think the Cuban people seem to have so much
heart, and they're in my heart for that reason. In general, the people I've met in Cuba are quite consistently open-hearted and big-hearted in the way they relate to each other or to visitors in their beautiful land. A piece of my heart now resides in Cuba, with the warm, wonderful friends I've made there. This blog is not intended to be a guide to Cuba, just a forum for my eclectic bits of writing – poetry, opinion pieces and information gleaned from my personal experience and reading.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Re: gifting...even small things matter!

In my reading about Cuba and life therein, I recall a noteworthy comment about the importance of personal cleanliness. I can't credit the source or quote it directly, unfortunately, but a paraphrase of the remark goes something like this: The Cuban people will tolerate many things but, unless you want a revolution on your hands, don't take away their soap!

That, I'm sure, is not intended to imply that they are docile, well-groomed sheep. Hardly! I would say that Cubans, in general, take a great amount of pride in their personal appearance, from hygiene to accoutrement. Some of my friends there are certainly more fashion conscious than I am!

Hygiene requires attention in any climate. However, it can be a particular challenge in the hot ones. Sweat happens. People perspire. According to my dear, departed mother-in-law, women "glow."

Imagine living in a hot, humid place where fresh water for cooking and bathing is sometimes in short supply. With me so far? Next, add a shortage of deodorant, soap, shampoo, etc. How are you feeling now? Getting ready to revolt? Maybe that would be going too far but I think you can grasp how this might affect one's outlook when facing daily temperatures hovering around 34 degrees Celsius (like this week in Granma). That's not factoring in the humidity, of course, or the lack of air conditioning in most homes.

Yesterday, I checked in with a friend in Pilon and asked him about shortages. He explained that one of the country's main suppliers of deodorant, soap and related toiletry products had closed down, making the situation quite dire. It had been hard to get deodorant when I was there in May; now, it must be next to impossible. I'd be feeling a bit desperate.

If you're planning a trip to Cuba, I'd encourage you to hit the dollar store and pack your suitcase with whatever soap, deodorant and other toiletries you can carry. And, if you tend to travel to places where they routinely stock the bathrooms with those cute little soaps and tiny bottles of shampoo, stash 'em and take 'em along to Cuba.

Even small things can make a difference in someone's life...but, if you have room for big bottles of shampoo and such stuff, go for it!

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