My morning started at 11 AM. Still in my little room with beige balcony door open and street noise creeping in trough the silky curtains. I slowly rolled out of the bed and went to meet Madalyn. She looked happy this morning with big smile, gold earring, grey hair and grey tea shirt partially covered by kitchen apron. She prepared a coffee, black as darkest night and a hot milk in the huge flowery tea pot. I sat down on the tiny half meter high stool on the balcony.
Streets were filled with people, some wearing long dresses and hats, some with shorts and backpacks and all with camera around neck. It was tourist hour in Havana. Locals had their old , mostly blue colored ,rusted bikes out to pick up tourists and bring them around .
Seems that I should join them and be one of them.
First on the agenda is food and water. I got small breakfast of rice, beans and chicken and then made my way down to the shop for water supplies. I walked up a little street shop, that had a window facing street, I was just right by crowded bus stop. Que was already there. I waited for about 10 minutes and it was my turn to shop, but sadly for me they didn’t have water for sale, that did surprise me. After wondering on main street in Havana for about 30 minutes I found a shop at last that sold water, but even that was sparking water with some kind chemical in it. Until I reached this shop I stopped by 3 other stores.
So this was something new to me, turns out Havana or anywhere in Cuba water is not sold everywhere as anywhere else I see. And prices are high. Water bottle can cost anything between 1-2 CUC (That’s a lot for Cuba – wage approx. 30 USD a month).
Next stop Cadeka.
Cadeka is a money exchange service in Cuba. I had few USD left since airport so I wanted to change that.
I could see little sign saying Cadeka outside dark door and que of people outside. I asked who is last and older lady said she is, I had 5 people in front of me. Cadeka was on the main street surrounded with heavy and noisy traffic, lots of people eating and drinking on the street and throwing all the food on the ground that they don’t want, cats and dogs passing by in between all the noise. It seemed chaos to me.
After 10 minutes of waiting door opened and it was my turn, dark ,thinned door opened and security guard let me walk in. Inside was 3 counters with old fashion notepads instead of computers. Young lady took my USD notes and asked what currency I want. I said I want to have 50/50 of CUC(Cuban Peso Convertibles) and MN(Moneda Nacional) . She handed me CUC and then a huge bunch of MN .
I continued my walk down noisy street and stopped at supermarket. And this was a surprising experience. Supermarket space was huge, but all the shelves were empty with the same products over and over again. Like ,pasta- only 2 types in this shop. Its like they have 50 products in all the shop and each long shelve is for 1 product. Strange feeling to walk in empty store.
I did found one supermarket that’s fully stocked with loads of imported stuff , but its exactly in tourist area center . Only for tourists and prices are insane comparing to this empty store. I walked around a lot and went in to lots of different stores to see what its like and did found it hard to imagine doing my weekly shopping in Cuban store.
On the way back it was still on my mind, all the empty shelves and no choice of anything. One coffee type, one sugar type, one pasta brand, one oil type. It’s a scary thought, but for Cubans this is a normal shopping experience that just makes sense.
During my walk full of thoughts in between little streets of Havana I noticed how many tourist would go mad over photos. They would stop on every corner and pose for it. Thank god for selfie invention, that they don’t bother me with asking to take picture.
I used to take millions of pictures on holidays, but then after few trips I realized that I never even review them after trips, I just store them away and all done.
So now I don’t even bother anymore taking millions of photos. Just few is plenty.
Well, that’s my day 2 in Cuba. Overall I spent all day wondering around and drinking coffee. Few times I got my coffee and just sat on the side of the street on the ground with a cup and watched locals pass by. That’s coffee from houses that have doors open and have little stands in corridor, that make some proper coffee there. And milk, most of it is powder, just so you know.