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A hop, skip and a jump. Camaguey, Bayamo & Santiago de Cuba, Cuba.

28 May

Our Cuban travels continue to migrate east…


We arrive in Camaguey much, much later than we had expected. The rain in Trinidad caused rivers to flood, leaving buses to take a longer route around it. About 4 hours longer, to be exact. This gave us much less time to experience the town, leaving us to taking a stroll through the tiny laneways before finally finding ourselves in our first government-run restaurant for dinner. Not quite understanding how the portions and the menu worked, we haphazardly ordered as best we could. While the food was fairly average, there is very little to complain about a meal for two, consisting of meat, veg, rice, beer, water, and a tip, totaling a mere AUD$7. How is this possible? Cuba has two currencies – one for Cuban nationals and one for tourists. $1CUC (tourist currency) = 25Pesos (national currency) = $1AUD. The intricacies of the system can take some time to get your head around, but the bottom line is services aimed at tourists are charged at a much higher rate because, well, with our stronger economies, we can afford to pay more. Cuba being a socialist country means all Cubans have their basic necessities free – housing, schooling, health-care – and other basic necessities such as fruit, veg and elementary cooking ingredients, are charged in the currency for Cuban nationals – Cuban pesos (for example, one banana costs 1 Peso, therefore for $1 Aussie dollar, you could buy 25 bananas. There is, however, no rule disallowing a tourist nor a Cuban national from exchanging money into the other’s currency and purchasing items with it. And so, this is how we find ourselves forking out so little for a night’s meal.

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