Before we left the UK someone told us that pens and soap were hard things to get hold of so anytime we got soap in hotel we saved it to take with us to Cuba and we bought a big box of pens just in case. Having spoken to some guides we have had in Cuba it seems that there was a shortage in the 90s but it is available in any shop now...that is only if you can afford it of course. But a week into Cuba and we are still carrying around Boots supply of soap. We were beginning to think that it was pointless having them on us.
We had a free day in Trinidad today so decided to explore some more of the city that we hadn't seen yet. On our way up to the viewing point we walked through what seemed like a slightly poorer area and a lady suddenly appeared and asked if we had any soap...weirdly we did! So we have her what we had and she was genuinely pleased. They obviously know that, for whatever reason, tourists carry soap on them!
We continued on our way up to the top of the hill took some photos and came back down the same way. While we were walking, this lady must have mentioned to her friends that there were a couple of tourists in the area who had soap so when we walked back past her house there were 5 other women sitting outside. When we approached they started asking us for soap, but we had none left. We mentioned that we had pens (lapiceros) and they all jumped up shouting "LAPICEROS!!". We have them what we had and felt bad because we didn't have more. They were so chuffed with the one pen each that we had that we went back to the house to gather up some more.
For the rest of the day we came across people who asked us for soap. It was such a simple thing that we could do that gave them pleasure, and it has freed up some space in our bags so everyone wins!