I've already travelled quite a bit so far. Not just. I have packed my bags a few times between West Africa and the Caribbean. We know that it is very different, to make the tourist or to immigrate in a more or less sustainable way.
Throughout these experiments, I have analyzed the interactions between different cultures and sought to understand the human race.
I have worked and still work in countries that are said to be underdeveloped, from the third world,… baths from a Western-centered discourse. In my experience, there is not a single form of development, which would be purely economic. There are other forms of development that are equally similar. Cultural, social, spiritual development… Those that characterize the countries that are called underdeveloped, such as Cuba.
Thus, when a Western tourist is planning a trip to Cuba, he has already built an image of the country he will find, believing that he knows in what situation people live there. In his imagination, built through various readings, information searched on the net, through the Western media, travel stories of other Westerners, he sees the Cuban as a poor bugger, a victim, who suffers an authoritarian regime . He learns that he is in need of everything, pens, soaps and other types of products essential to his daily life. The tourist wants to do well. Or maybe he wants to make himself feel guilty about spending his holidays in a poor country, with all his privileges?
So let me reassure you. In Cuba, you can find everything! Yes there are pens, yes, there is soap, yes, there is aspirin and besides much cheaper than in Western countries, or even given by the state.
The problem is that, like everyone else, Cubans will play the role they have been assigned. They will never balk at receiving "gifts," even if they don't need them much. They are not going to rebel against the image of a victim that the tourist sticks to him, precisely because that is what the tourist came to get and he must be pleased.
Be aware that it is not the Cubans you will frequent, who own casa particular, bars, restaurants, who are tour guides, taxi drivers, etc., who are among the poorest. They are the richest, the most privileged. But it is often to them that you will hand over your equipment.
On the other hand, have you ever imagined receiving an unknown person at home and that he offers you soap? What would be your reaction? The first time you're going to think it's funny maybe, but what if it becomes a habit? What if whole Chinese buses started handing out candy to your kids playing in the park or even money? Against a stolen photo. Would you agree? What signal would that give your children? I think very quickly they would say that there is no point in going to school, that it would be better to work to get closer to those Chinese tourists who are happily handing out money if we can show them that we need it.
So what can you bring to Cuba? Well it's simple: your openness, your interest, your kindness, your friendship and of course your money that you will spend in local businesses, so that Cubans can continue to be independent, supportive and live with dignity.