by Jim and Melanie
If all we showed you were tourist sites, you would miss some of the most interesting parts of our trip. Below we give some impressions of the food and housing, utilities, transportation, and employment we saw. Needless to say, we are not experts and it’s possible we got some things wrong. However, this is our understanding as best we can convey. If you would like to know more, an interesting source of information and data is available from The World Factbook of the CIA.
As tourists, we ate very well in Cuba. Our hotel’s European-style breakfast buffet included a vast array of breads and pastries, fruits, sausages and other meats, potatoes and eggs. Lunches and dinners were at government-owned or privately-owned restaurants. Though we had rice and beans at several meals, meat was always on the menu. Our first dinner in Cuba included roasted chicken, while others featured pork, beef, and seafood.
Typical Cubans, however, have a more constrained diet. The cost of living exceeds official wages. To help offset that, the government issues coupon rationing books to each household, to provide subsidized staple foods. The rations differ depending on the age and health status of the household members, and they vary somewhat depending on supplies available. For example, each month the rationing booklets allow each healthy adult a total of 5 pounds of rice, 5 pounds of sugar, 1 pound of chicken, and 5 eggs, as well as a few other items. The items must be purchased at the citizen’s assigned market, based on their registered address.