In the heat of the Havana day I immediately head for my favorite, lowest cost refreshment, He Rikera juice bar.
This tiny shop sits in the front room of a home right in the heart of the always busy Obispo shopping strip. It is always fresh, wildly popular and a very low cost way to perk up your day. The secret of the bargain pricing is Cuba’s two-currency system, still in place as of the end of 2015.
Wandering down Obispo is an inevitable joy especially if you are staying in central Habana Vieja. The limited menu also includes some snacks but the regulars go for juice or fruit cocktail and I followed their lead. Guava, pear or mango are all delicious and always an ice cold treat especially on a hot day.
The key to the low cost is mathematics. As a visitor, you’re likely carrying CUCs (convertible pesos) but the pricing at He Rikera is in CUP (national pesos) as are the prices at many of the spots preferred by local Habaneros. The conversion rate is 25:1 so your CUC peso is worth 25 CUP. Juice costs 5 CUP = 20 centavos CUC = roughly 20 cents in US$. Have a couple of glasses. Fabulous!
Caterina Wallace, Visit Cuba
December 22, 2015