I remembered from our trip last year that people on the street (Trinidad in particular) came up to us asking for things like soap, pens and clothes. This time I took bars of soap especially to give to people when they asked.
While walking on the beach a young man came up to me and asked me what I had to give him. Did I have clothes, or toiletries, anything I didn’t need? I told him I had soap and that I would go and get it and return to the beach with it for him. We made a meeting spot for the transaction and about half an hour later I returned and gave him a brand new bar of soap.
It really is an amazing thing when you can give someone something like a bar of soap and have them be SO appreciative, so happy. Then I gave him two more bars of soap. He said “I don’t need so many. One is enough”. I told him to give one to his mother and one to his girlfriend or his sister. He looked at me in amazement, in awe. Clearly I had made his day! I told him that I had brought them especially for him. We hugged and said goodbye and happy new year.
The next bar of soap I gave to another young man while we were waiting in line to board a local bus. He asked me if I had any soap.. lo and behold all I had to do was reach into my bag and pull out the soap. Again, sheer happiness and appreciation. I had made his day too!
The last bar of soap I left in one of the casa particulares that we stayed in. There is often no soap in the bathrooms and even if there is, it is usually a very small and skinny remnant. Everything is used!
Soap is seen as being a luxury item. It is not that you cannot get it, you can, but it is rationed, along with other essentials and so there is a limited amount of bars of soap out there and people run out of it fairly quickly.
In Remedios elderly men asked us for clothes and pens. Ben did a quick sort through and we gave two men a shirt and a pen each. Oh we made their day! Imagine making someone’s day by giving them a pen. Such appreciation and such gratitude for the small but important things in life.