just returned from la isla grande trip in cuba and absolutely loved it. The country is beautiful and the people are lovely. we were warned about unexpected hiccups along the way but fortunately for us, it all went very smoothly. Some of the hotels did have their own little quirks like the russian one in Moron that only had hot water between the hours of 6 and 9, but by day 3 we had learned to go with the flow and looked forward to getting together with everyone in the evening to find out what "quirks" they had with their rooms! It certainly makes you appreciate how lucky we are here and how easily we take everything for granted.
A few small gifts for people are much appreciated, particularly in the mountainous regions where people sometimes wait for up to a week for transport to get to the nearest towns. Take ball-point pens and soap/shampoos.
If you go to santo domingo, ask the hotel about getting your nails painted. Most of the ladies in our group got finger nails or toes painted (i have the cuban flag on my toes!!) by a couple of local ladies in the village. It was a great experience as they invite you into their homes to meet the family while sippling real cuban coffee.
have a great time - I WANT TO GO BACK!!!!!!