When we were in Habana, what we did was wander. We had a map, of course, and a guide, obviously, and a good idea of things we absolutely could not miss. But the rest of the time we wandered.
That was the introduction to the following fact: we saw this market but I have absolutely no idea where it was. Possibly close to Plaza San Francisco, in Habana Vieja. It was a cute little square, with a garden in the middle and all these stands around it selling books, antiques and general Cuban paraphernalia.
In Cuba there are two currencies: the CUC (Cuban Convertible Peso), that has a 1:1 exchange rate with the US dollar and that is given to tourists, and the Cuban Peso (CUP) that is only for residents. 1 CUC was about 24 CUPs. We were told that paying for some things was easier and much more convenient in CUPs, so the first day we found a lady selling fried something, paid with CUCs and asked for the change in CUPs. She seemed happy and so were we! That said, we noticed that CUP notes were being sold at the market – the ones with Che Guevara, for example, or Cienfuegos. And that they were being sold at an enormous amount of money: one note could sell upwards of 100times its value! We smiled, knowing that we had about five Che notes in our pocket, and wondered how many tourists would fall into that trap.
The market was not cheap. This little spy camera – that worked! – sold for about 50CUC (50$).
The books and posters were especially entertaining. We ended up buying a sticker album with the story of the revolution (you can see it in the next photo) which was a huge load of propaganda. My father loved it, and so did we!
Did I already mention the stray dogs with collars and photos of themselves on the collar? Maybe. If not, here’s the story: in Havana, some stray dogs are taken care of by local businesses. Sometimes museums, sometimes bars or restaurants. When this happens, the vaccinated and fed dogs have to have a collar with their name and photo on so that they can be recognised as “non-stray”. The idea is good but the photo….creepy. And often if you stopped to pet or take a photo of the dogs, the business that cared for them would ask for money, which was annoying.