A Havana Neighborhood Farmers Market

Although it’s a huge city, Havana feels like a collection of neighborhoods — each with its own small-town character and vibrant market. And a delightful experience is to simply wander through a neighborhood farmers market. Taxis are so inexpensive, we’d just hire one and hand the driver a list of places we wanted to visit (gleaned from our guidebook and advice from our B&B hosts), then enjoy a stop-and-go morning.

(By the way, I’m just starting a two-week series of posts from Cuba. This promises to be a great adventure through a mysterious-to-most-Americans island that’s just now opening up to regular tourism. I hope to post twice a day for the next two weeks here on my blog and on Facebook. Please share this with any traveling friends interested in venturing to Cuba.)


7 Replies to “A Havana Neighborhood Farmers Market”

  1. There’s no better way to experience a city and connect with the locals than at a farmer’s market. We try to visit one wherever we travel. If there is no market, we visit a grocery store. Thanks of sharing your experiences in Cuba!!


  2. I’ll be traveling to Havana soon. I heard tourists can’t use or don’t have access to the local currency. Is that true? How then would you shop at markets and other local places?

  3. Note to Douglas Trattner: Go to any money exchange called Cadeca and you can exchange money for either the local peso or the tourist peso. I suggest getting some of both and use them as required or desired. Fun to use the local peso in places where Cubans shop.

  4. The problem, Steve, is the state run stores, where Cubans pick up their government rations, are chronically short. Notice the preponderance of empty shelf space in your video? Government rations (6 eggs per month, a little chicken, rice, beans) are sufficient to get a Cuban through 10 days of the month. But rarely is any Cuban able to even procure their full meager ration allotment. A different system? Yes. But totally inadequate. Those Cubans who receive remittances from family and friends outside of Cuba are able to access staples in “dollar” or “CUC” stores. The thriving farmers’ markets like the one you filmed are new within the last few years– the result of Raul Castro opening small farming up to a Cuban version of private enterprise (that we would not recognize as private enterprise in the US.) At this point, the Cuban government still controls the supply change upon which retailers depend. Sadly, much food and resources have been diverted to the tourist industry, at the expense of most Cubans. There are many challenges to be overcome! But progress is being made.

  5. When I traveled there I was told that tourists could only use the CUC. We took pencils, crayons, pencil crayons and gave these to local children. It is not officially allowed but we had heard that there were shortages of these items for children so we left them as tips as well as money and gave them to children we saw in the street. We also gave local Cubans the soaps from our hotel as we heard there were shortages of this as well. Our thinking was that this would free up money for things like food.

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