Cuba is definitely part of the Latin American/Caribbean club for low cost, flavorful meals….if you eat in peso restaurants, not geared for tourists (which is why it is a peso restaurant). Cuba has two currencies (1) the national peso is what salaries are paid in and (2) the CUC, which is what tourists use and it is the currency for modern or big ticket purchases. The CUC is pegged to the US dollar 1:1 and 25 pesos = 1 CUC. 4 lunches at a peso restaurant in Camaguey cost 163 pesos ($6.50) and included a quarter of roasted chicken for each person, drinks, rice, a side salad for one person and a corn-mash side. In Santiago, our meal for two people was 20 pesos ($0.80) and included a whole fish, rice, a vegetable side dish (stewed yucca), and juice.
So eating out in Cuba is on par with eating in Cuenca, Ecuador if you are comparing peso restaurants to almuerzo specials. However, Cuban restaurants were the CUC is the currency of choice are by definition more expensive and are usually on par with restaurant prices in the US.
Want to see how the 1% live in Cuenca? Then rent a house for $600. For this “great” (this is all relative to the US because it is an outrageously ridiculous price for most Cuencanos) price you can get:
- Gated and private entry onto your own private street of only 9 homes
- House in a compound of houses that are all owned by the same family (none of the others are rented out and there are children in all the homes)
- 3 story fully furnished home with 4 bedrooms, 4.5 baths
- Formal dining room
- Sunken living room
- Large kitchen with all the requisite plates, pots, spoons, forks and other items included
- Servant’s Quarters
- Laundry room with washer and dryer
- Private garden with fruit trees
- Private enclosed and tiled courtyard
- Beautiful views of Cuenca
- Only 10-15 minute walk to center of town
- Secure home with intercom buzzer
- Deposit is $1,000 and renter pays for all utilities (which depending on usage maybe about $100 including light, gas, water, internet, cable and telephone).
Can you live on your social security check in Cuenca, Ecuador? Yes you can! Come and live like the 1% – if that is what you choose.
So tell me, if you could choose between spending $600 just on rent or $600 on everything for the whole month? Which would you choose?