You won’t find supermarkets in Cuba, but small stores and mobile sellers for fresh products. Basic food like rice, milk, cheese and so on you can get only in shops operated by the government. Cuba still have food ration cards with dedicated buying limits for each person. Each food ration card is valid only in one dedicated shop (usually located just around the corner, or at least nearby). Water can be used directly from the pipe, but tourist better use bottled water, because they might get problems from the water even it is good. Tourists always can use it for teeth cleaning without hesitation.
Gas stations sell ice cream, water, beer and so on, just like here in Germany.
Cubans get their salaries in Peso. Taxes, water, electrical power, food rations and other basics have to be paid with Pesos. Tourists have to change their money into CUC, convertible Pesos. With CUC you can buy nearly everything, but Cubans usually don’t have CUC. They only can get CUC from tourists. As a tourist, on the other hand, you usually won’t see or need Pesos.
Don’t expect low prices. A bottle of 1,5 l water for example costs between 1 – 2 CUC, that is 0,80 – 1,60 Euro. A can of local cola or lemonade containing 0,33l costs 0,50 – 2 CUC and a can of beer (also 0,33l) 1 – 2,50 CUC. Beer usually costs 0,25 – 0,50 CUC more than lemonade or cola. I tried both types of beer (Cristal and Bucanero), as well as Tucola and Naranja and liked all of them.
Prices for the basics are low. But the mentioned drinks above are luxury good for Cubans. Fruits for example only cost a few Pesos. It’s kind of complicated. When trying to pay goods offered for Pesos to the locals, won’t expect to get the correct change if paying with CUC. That’s because those people usually don’t have CUC. Shops or sellers addressing tourists or offering ‘luxury good’, like mentioned above, restaurants operated by government license holders or in paladars (private restaurants) have CUC and ae able to give the correct change back.
Each service personnel (others also!) is very eager to get a tip in CUC, but they don’t beg for it.
More on this later. Until than, you might have a look back to my previous posts.