Don’t take dollars to cuba

  Traveling to Cuba, I made a big mistake. We brought US dollars.
  Cuba has been under U.S. sanctions for more than 60 years, and Americans are still prohibited from going to Cuba until today.
  Therefore, after we flew to Miami, a city in the middle of the United States, we had to take a detour from the United States to Jamaica, and then from Jamaica to Cuba, even though Cuba was very close. As soon as I entered the country, when I saw the exchange rate, I screamed that it was not good.
  Anyone who brings euros, British pounds or Canadian dollars into the country can be exchanged for Cuban foreign exchange certificates (CUC) at the normal exchange rate.
  However, if it is exchanged in U.S. dollars, it is 20% less than the market price. For example, a ten-yuan foreign exchange certificate is originally equal to ten dollars, but we can only exchange it for eight dollars. In other words, we lost 20% of the thousands of dollars in our hands for no reason!
  Regarding this point, travelers to Cuba must pay attention to it, and do not carry US dollars! There are two types of currency in circulation in Cuba, one is the foreign exchange certificate and the other is the Cuban peso; the former is for tourists, and the latter is the currency of the locals. The face value of the two is very different. Many department stores only accept foreign currency certificates, which means that if you use foreign currency certificates to shop, you can have a larger and more extensive selection. However, there are also some entertainment venues that have double standards. Tourists must use expensive foreign exchange certificates to buy tickets to watch performances, while locals can use pesos. The prices of the two are very different.
  The average Cuban’s monthly salary is usually less than 20 yuan equivalent to US dollars. How can they live on such a low income? According to what the locals told me, the government will distribute a “hukou shopping book” (equivalent to China’s food stamps in the past) to every citizen every month. Residents can obtain supplies of certain food and daily necessities for a nominal fee, including: rice, bread, eggs, coffee, sugar, fatty meat, peas, black beans, potatoes, oil, chicken, fish, beef mince, salt, toothpaste, Matches, soap, etc. Families with children under the age of seven or pregnant women can also get milk powder.
  On the surface, it seems that the supply of materials is extremely abundant and everyone lives a life without fear of scarcity, but in fact it is not. For a chicken weighing about a pound, only 1 chicken, 150 grams of fat, and 250 grams of oil are supplied every month; salt is only half a pound every two months, and fish (one pound half-weight), beef mince (one pound), toothpaste (one tube), and other things in such small quantities that most Cubans have to live on a tight stomach.
  Going to various shops, big and small, is like walking into a time tunnel of history, and there is nothing you want. Some common daily necessities, such as soap powder, toothbrush, and shampoo, are all carefully placed in glass cabinets; candies and biscuits with few varieties and poor quality are even more precious, and are only placed in the cabinet A package of samples marked with a price, the customer took a fancy to it, and the salesperson took it out from the locked cabinet.
  A businesswoman who was engaged in the catering industry and settled in Cuba told me that the biggest inconvenience of living here is the severe lack of supplies.
  Even if you have banknotes, you can’t buy some very necessary and common things in many cases. For example, children’s shoes, when the supply is scarce, you can’t buy them even if you walk all over the streets. She said with a wry smile: “My daughter is only two years old, but I bought a lot of children’s shoes when I went abroad. From three to six years old, shoes of different sizes are prepared for her. Otherwise, her feet are too big to buy shoes, so I might have to sew cloth shoes for her!” It was unbelievable to say that I wanted to buy a pair of scissors, and I went to many so-called “department stores”. I couldn’t buy it, and later, I bought it in a high-end store at a high price of nine yuan foreign exchange certificates.
  Before going to Cuba, I did a “stupid thing”. In Jamaica, I met an Australian tourist, and she advised me to bring more toilet paper, because there is a shortage in Cuba. I am a good follower, and I bought ten volumes at a time, and carried them from Jamaica to Cuba. Unexpectedly, toilet paper can be bought everywhere, and the residence where we stayed is also in sufficient supply; therefore, I had no choice but to give this roll of toilet paper as a “gift” to people I know locally. Giving toilet paper to others in other places may cause people to stare blankly, but in Cuba, where supplies are scarce, the recipients are overjoyed and thank you!