On my flight from Miami to Havana I was seated next to a very chatty Cuban native in the middle of the row. He works in Miami and sends money to his family. In his hands he had a cheap toy, like the kind you get at the Dollar Store, unceremoniously wrapped in a plastic bag.

He explained it was a Christmas present for his young son who he had not seen in many months. I smiled politely but the truth is I was sleep deprived and uncomfortable in my seat and nervous about getting into the country.

It turns out he was nervous too--about flying--and I think talking calmed him. I may have spoke more Spanish than he did English, which made the conversation more of a difficult translation game.

When we landed the entire plane of Cubans clapped like they'd witnessed a modern miracle, but this grown man in the middle seat, wiped big tears from his eyes. He apologized, "I'm just happy to be home and see my son."

As we were deboarding, the chatty father gave me a half eaten stack of Saltine crackers. I laughed because I thought it was a joke, but he was very serious in his generosity. Almost somber about it.

I quickly exchanged my snort for a very serious "gracias."

We waved goodbye in the humidity on the tarmac and I worried about throwing away the crackers later. I had an intimidating customs and visa process ahead of me.

By the time I finally arrived at my AirBnb, it was late and I was starving. It would be 10pm before I could sit down to a proper meal. I looked down at my carry-on bag at that sad stack of Saltine crackers and said, "what the hell?"

About 6 crackers later, my hunger was staved and I was humbled by his meagre gift.

There were several times when I was miles between the next meal in my travels, and those Saltines kept me going until I arrived at the next Cuban adventure.

Yes, I realize celebrating Christmas in Cuba by yourself is a bit unorthodox, but it's not like I lacked for any show of generosity, thanks to many kind strangers, and the man in the middle seat.

**Update from a Cuban-American friend who read this post: "Saltine crackers are a staple in a Cuban household. He must have really liked you."