Jim and Fiona take a suitcase to Varadero

“We were hoping to find a clinic that would be most needy of the supplies as per your suggestion ie: a smaller village clinic that provides care to locals and not too close to the tourist area of Veradero in which we were located (as those clinics would be better serviced than most).

Our Spanish is basically non-existent and as it was our first time in Cuba we were also unfamiliar with the geography. So we thought it would be a major challenge to find the right place and explain why we were there etc. But actually it all fell quite serendipitously into place.

There were four of us -myself, Fiona my wife, my son Alex and his partner Tiffany. We had arranged (through just asking about) for a car and guide to take us for a day trip into Havana – much cheaper and far more convenient and versatile than taking the bus tour and you ride in one of those great collectible cars. Since we had the car for the day we thought we’d look for an appropriate clinic while en route to Havana.
So when our guide, David, arrived we mentioned what we wanted to do. He offered up a number of possibilities and ended with suggesting we could even take the supplies to the clinic in the village where he lived. At first I was a bit wary of that suggestion – maybe it was just too convenient and easy and the clinic may not be as needy as others. But it also made sense as it was a clinic where we would now have at least some personal connection. So we decided to go to his village (if it didn’t fit our criterial we could always move on to another).

However going to his village ended up being the best decision. The experience was wonderful… in no small part due to David’s connection.

As we slowly drove about his village within Cardenas,Matanzas, Dave was waving and greeting fellow villagers…he definitely knew the townsfolk and they him.

After driving about the village a bit we arrived at the clinic where we first entered a small waiting room full of people awaiting to see the sole doctor (who wasn’t at the clinic yet as she apparently makes the rounds to various medical facilities). They looked at us somewhat confusingly probably because they don’t get many tourists there. But David greeted most of them and when the nurse came out she gave him a large hug and smile. He then explained to her why we were there. She broke out in another big grin. She seemed extremely grateful and was more than happy to accommodate us…filling out forms, having pictures taken etc.

The nurse explained, through David, all the supplies would be extremely useful especially the needles we brought as those were in short supply, especially for diabetics. If there was anything they wouldn’t have use for they would trade with other clinics. So it seemed the perfect match.

Then David showed us around the area including the small community baseball diamond located across from the clinic. While my son looked about the diamond, a young boy wearing a baseball glove waved him over towards the nearby school where, along with his friend, invited Alex and Tiffany to join in a game of catch. They played until it was time to hit the road. It was a wonderful, spontaneous and natural moment. As my son said, that and the whole NJT experience “created some of the best memories from our trip!”.

Couldn’t agree more. So thanks for that.

Mis mejores deseos,

Jim and Fiona

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