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exchanges in havana

by Ricardo Matias

Me and a friend we are going to havana, and question is what is the best thing to exchange with the cubans?
I am thinking on watches, pens and shirt´s.

What´s your advice?

Hi Ricardo,
Thanks for asking. First let me give you a warning, you write "exchange" but most Cubans
expect to "receive" for free. Why? They see every
foreigner as a "rich uncle". I once said to a Cuban: "I am not the uncle of all Cubans". But put yourself in their place. The average salary is 15 dollar per month, for a young guy 8-10 dollar is normal, so when they can get something they can sell it to make some extra money. This named :
"jinetar" and the man who sells the stuff is a
What the Cubans like: the youngsters are mad about clothes, a T-shirt with a Nike, Puma, Adidas logo, sports shoes of the same brands.
Baseball caps, a jeans, flashy sunglasses
(cheap), a MP3 player...A watch and pens are wanted too, as a matter of fact they can use everything what they can sell for money. Girls are wild about cosmetics, eye-liner, perfume, shampoo etc.
Even tissues, toilet paper, soap and Asperine are very welcome.
Have a nice trip, and enjoy Havana.

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Apr 07, 2009
by: Anonymous

Hello Ricardo, you are makeing a trip to Cuba and thinking of making exchanges. Frankly I do not like the word exchanges. My suggestion is, if you have a few friends in Cuba, then take them each a small gift of a T Shirt or maybe a watch. Cubans need nutritious food more than anything else. If you meet a family, I would suggest!!!!!!take them to the supermarket where you spend CUC dollars. If you can afford it buy lots of things like catsup, beef, chicken soft drinks, soup mix, coffee, rice, beans and so on. That is what I do. I have two families that I take care of. I visit every three months and spend about 500.00 CUC on special foods that they cant afford to but. I will give them a 20.00 spending money and take watches and clothes for them. You have to be very careful who you select for friends because some of them can be very ungrateful. Sometimes it feels like you cant do enough. That is a sad part of having them for a friend.
I do hope you enjoy your trip but follow my instructions.

Comments by Vic:

This is an excellent advice, but I consider it for the "More advanced visitors" not everybody want to spend a lot, but if you can afford it all kinds of "descent" quality food are very welcome
especially meat for most Cubans a "real steak" is a wet dream. Me too, I support a Cuban family or two but it's a relationship that you have to build up and this takes some time.
Note, that the import of food is prohibited, you have to buy it in the supermarkets in Havana Miramar.
Thanks for the great comment
webmaster Havana-guide

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