This is Part 3 in a series about the time I spent in Cuba not long ago. To see all posts in chronological order, Click Here.
There are two questions I start asking everyone I meet: “Why are the women so flamboyant in flaunting their bodies?” And, “Can the Cuban government change its spots?”
When I tell our tour guide, Liliana, about the women I saw at the Casa de Musica, she shakes her head. “Those were jinateras, girls who sell themselves to make extra money.”
“But most of the women around here dress like that. Why?”
“Ask the men,” she says, turning to a group of locals drinking coffee at the next table. They give several reasons: “the climate,” “it’s the style,” “the custom,” and “the men like it.” Laughing, one adds, “We don’t have dangerous animals in Cuba. Only women.”
Girl with jury-rigged phone on street
Liliana says the two major forms of entertainment are music and sex. At most clubs they have condoms on the menu, and sex education starts early. “They use a banana,” she says.
This is Part 2 in a series about the time I spent in Cuba not long ago. To see all posts in chronological order, Click Here.
On Sunday, a 28-year-old novelist, whom I’ll call Raffi, joins us for the day’s sightseeing. Wearing a straw hat with a black band, gray pants, and sunglasses tucked in the V of his yellow polo shirt, Raffi has an open face and dark eyes quick to smile. He’s a friend of one of our leaders, Trish, who’s guided many trips to Cuba.
Raffi, two others and I climb into a taxi—a ’55 Chevy that’s been painted “Havana blue” and completely refurbished, with air conditioning, a rebuilt motor, new upholstery and paint, and stereo sound coming out of the ancient radio. The drivers use ingenuity and parts they scrounge on the black market to keep the cars in peak condition.
Raffi tells me the driver makes more than surgeons, who earn about $25 a month. “I have friends with Ph.D.’s who drive taxis,” he says, explaining that there are two currencies in Cuba—CUC’s (called kooks), for tourists, and CUP’s, or pesos, for Cubans. The CUC is worth about a dollar but the peso is worth four cents. Taxi drivers and others who work with tourists get paid in CUC’s, but all other Cubans get the measly pesos, and they can’t live on pesos alone. Some earn cash from illegal activities and others get money sent from relatives abroad.