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what would you like to know about Cuba?

bodegas (local stores) and markets
Most foods are still rationed to Cuban nationals and a ration book system operates. Basic foods, beans, rice, bread, sugar are now more readily available and can normally be paid for in Convertible Pesos. The local 'bodegas' operate the National Ration Card System and are not available to tourists. In Havana there are now a number of co-operatives supplying fresh vegetables to the locals and in most towns there are private (not state run) farmers markets. Usually near to the Train or Bus station these bustling markets are worth a visit for the atmosphere alone.

tourist stores
In many towns there are 'Tourist Stores'. In this type of store all goods are paid for in Convertible Pesos so their custom is almost entirely from tourists. The Tourist Stores provide basic, mainly imported food often in packets or tins. The range of fresh foods, vegetables, fruits, bread etc can be disappointing as the shops are more geared to providing snack foods rather than supplying the ingredients for self catering. The Tourist stores are often the best places to purchase bottled water and other drinks before setting out on a long journey.

artisan market
Probably the best place in all of Cuba to source a gift to take home is at the ‘Feria de los Artesans’ in Calle Tacon near to the Cathedral in Havana Old City. This is a large market with the usual amount of tourist tat alongside the more ’essential’ purchases such as Che Guevara T shirts. If you look carefully there are also some talented painters, potters and jewellery makers selling their wares and if something takes your fancy you can normally negotiate a good price.

In towns and cities there are street stalls selling sandwiches, pizza and other local snacks. These are remarkably cheap and can be paid for in Convertible Pesos. In country areas, especially on the approaches to villages, there are often stalls selling fresh seasonal fruits. These fruits are sometimes peeled, but unpeeled fruit can usually be rustled up if you ask. At some popular road junctions and on the Autopistas there are official tourist snack bars, mainly geared to coach parties, where you can get a drink or sandwich. Many have washroom facilities and live entertainment!

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