Posted Jan 31, 2010 in Travel | 0 Comments

SKYwhores UNITE!!! In Havana

Havana

When you think of Cuba, you think of ladies with fruit baskets on their head, hot sunny beaches with grains of sand as fine as flour, and, of course, hot Latino men(had to put this in bold)

Well, it’s time for a reality check. You can find all these things, but, let’s face it, Cuba is a poor country that suffers from the Communist ideals of supposed equality. Just go with one thing in mind: everything you see or experience has one pre-determined goal, “how can I make money off of you”. If I sound bitter, I’m really not. If anything, the experience was interesting.

If you’re looking for a place to stay, check out one of the many casa particulars. These are guesthouses that charge anywhere between $20-$35 USD. If you can, try to find one that serves food (good food is hard to come by in this city). Google casa particular and you’ll find plenty of addresses.

I have to start by saying that Cubans are beautiful. The population generally consists of three racial groups: black, mixed, and white. No matter what your taste is, you will find eye candy here, unless you have a thing for Asians (but, then again, they do have a Chinatown and I must admit the Cuban Black/Chinese man I passed in the street would have left any eyes bulging).

Once you get past the beauty of the Cubans themselves, you can move on to the normal tourist routines. You know… the markets, churches, yadda yadda.

Che G

Mercado des Artisania is a festive market where locals sell their arts and crafts. You can find some interesting pieces here. There are a lot of Haitian influences in some of the art. In case you didnt know, Haiti is known not just for poverty and earthquakes but for art, as well. Of course, the prices are a little jacked-up for tourists, but it’s still a worthy place to go.

Parque Central

Parque Centrale is a nice walk where you can witness the hustle and bustle of the mean streets of Havana. This is basically a park situated in the middle of a street, separating the two different directions. Havana is known for its European architecture and cars that date back to the 1950s. On this street, you can find all of that and more as the buildings have a little more color than in other parts of the city.

If you are a beach fanatic, I suggest Playa Isla Sud, where the sand is fine, and has some of the clearest water you can find. About a 20min drive outside of the city, it’s well worth the trip considering that you shouldn’t be swimming near the city anyways. It’s not Varadero but if you’re interested in seeing how the people of Cuba live off the resorts, then this trip is a must. Unfortunately, I did not have the time to visit villages outside in the countryside. That will have to be another trip.

La Boguedita del Mueno and La Floridita are bars where Ernest Hemingway used to hang out. Now why would that be of interest, I’m not sure. However, the line-ups show that people care. I’m personally unconcerned as to where a notables slept, sat or farted; their artistic acts are what interest me.

bldg

Now here comes the good part: if you’re looking for good food and cute waiters, try Barrio Chino (Chinatown). We managed to finally have a good meal in this city of no seasoning at El Flamboyan, which combines Chinese and Cuban cuisine alongside the hottest waiter i’ve ever seen, Raul. He was also very helpful and warned me to be careful when I left, as there had recently been a mugging nearby. Surrounded by these adorable kids in their early teens, I asked him whom should I look out for and he motioned with his eyes the people who were accompanying me. That was my cue!

Upon leaving, I wondered what there is to do as a gay man in Havana. I heard of a park where everyone goes to at night where they serve ice cream. La Copilla is a weird structure reminiscent of the 60s Expo era. Here you find different rooms and terraces where they serve…ice cream. I ventured in and as your average North American snob, expected Baskin and Robbins and 31 flavours. Well, I had to be content with melted vanilla /chocolate ice cream with syrup poured on top. This was quite a disappointment, but I was still pleasantly surprised at how much business this establishment made. As large as a convention center, it was never without a line up.

Across the street I sat down looking to spot my brothers and sisters. I couldn’t even spot a fem queen. I managed to befriend a local knowing full well that he would hustle me. It cost me 2 Mojitos and a bag of shirts but I found the area. In case you have anything you want to get rid of, bring it to Cuba and they will happily take them off your hand. It saves you money and space in your closets.

After much conversation with a unilingual Cuban, I managed to get some info out of him with basic sign language. Imagine a 6’1 man imitating a girl in the hopes that he would understand my question. It seems the Maricons (gays) hang out in Malecon (district). Droll but fitting. I was not sure what to expect in a nation where speaking out can create some difficulties for you and your family. Well, let’s just say I was surprised at how entrepreneurial the Cuban mind is…

I was completely ignored for the better part of the night. I felt quite ugly around these gorgeous people. I managed to bump into some waiters from one of my favourite restaurants in Montreal. They are Vietnamese and stuck out like sore thumbs. However, they seemed to be in the center of the spotlight. After constant interruptions during our conversations, I figured out that because they weren’t  locals, everyone wanted to sample the goods. I thought at first that the locals like foreigners because they are different, but I figured out the hard way that they were merely selling their services. Not for a definite price but for what you can offer. I discovered this because I was stopped by the local police and asked for my identification. Being black, he assumed I was local and soliciting my services to my Vietnamese friends.

After clearing myself from these supposed crimes, I wandered over to the seawall where I discovered a whole new world. A world of prostitution, music, drinking, and drag queens. Yes, I found their village!

What people do for fun on weekdays is they meet on the seawall and listen to guitar players and drink out of rum bottles. No longer was I ignored. A local asked me for the time and I responded, “no habla espanol”. That was the death of me; I was swarmed by some of the hottest guys I’ve ever seen. But I prevailed. You see, I’m a chaser, don’t chase me.

I was insulted that they were only interested in my money and nationality. Consider me a Monday afternoon on a long weekend when it’s raining. Keep your Saturday nights for someone better.

After having been licked and rubbed against, the whole things got more interesting when the drag queens came out holding hands. These girls were hot, but how do they get past the police? I guess Cuba is a lot more tolerant then I thought.

Cuban

I watch wrestling and not for the men but for the fighting and blood. I’ll go to any Ultimate Fighting match I can. So I was pleasantly surprised that, while on the seawall, I managed to witness 3 fights: one involving the throwing of bottles, the others between drag queens. That’s when I remember what my cousin said when he used to work the door at the major local gay club. He said he would fight any muscleman without a care but he’s scared of drag queens. They always seem to have a weapon hidden on them somewhere on their body.

My advice to you is to go and visit Havana even if your travel package is an all inclusive beach term. The people are incredible and the beaches amazing, but beware, everyone is out for money and if there is any way you can cook your own food, do so…or at least pack some spices. Did I enjoy my trip? I did, but though I’ve been to many poor countries before, I wasn’t expecting this constant barrage of demands. It seems everyone has a sick grandmother or sibling.

One last warning: please don’t fall for the same trick that so many others have fallen for. Don’t fall in love. Trust me on this. The numbers of heartbroken Canadians far outnumber the ones whose relationships succeed. It’s all business. Go with that mindset and you’ll have an amazing time… I did.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Be Heard