March 12, 2018

Cienfuegos, Cuba. February, 2012

Walking along a quiet street in the slow-paced Caribbean coastal town, I met this lovely woman selling polvorones from her living room open to the street. Because I love the Mexican version of these simple butter/sugar cookies, I had to indulge. For professional reasons, of course. And so, my first encounter with the differences between the two types of money that circulate in Cuba. Moneda nacional, or CUPs, for Cubans themselves. And CUCs (Cuban convertible pesos), the “hard” currency that we tourists use. Both monies called pesos (and centavos), both designated in print with a $. Her cookies were 1 peso (moneda nacional); I only had CUCs (Cuban convertibles). So I gave her one CUC (pronounced amusingly as “kook”) and she figured it was the equivalent of the huge stack of cookies she gave me. (No problem. I found a number of enthusiastic takers in my group.) All this and a wonderful conversation as she welcomed me into her parlor to take this photo. Gracias, señora.

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