Boozing in Brothels with Burmese Billionaires

Trip Start Feb 26, 2010
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Trip End Feb 26, 2011


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Where I stayed
In somebodies house illegally

Flag of Cuba  ,
Thursday, February 17, 2011

We woke up at about 9am with one of our contacts knocking at the bedroom door, we were knackered but promised ourselves a very early night without drinking (that sometimes means trouble!), our contact took us on a guided tour of Old Havana (the touristy bit) taking in the Hemmingway bar and hotel among lots of other sites, Revolution Square etc, perhaps even more interesting and our contact was far more passionate about was showing us how the normal local people lived, we got into a few other neighbourhoods and he was taking us into peoples houses and showing us some of the best and worst things about life in Cuba, basically the houses had been beautiful but some were literally falling down around the occupants, at one stage Erica was left with our contact while I was dragged off by a complete stranger into his dwelling and introduced to his father and wife, to enter you had to climb up a staircase of non bonded concrete blocks, but the guy was so proud and so friendly. We also got to see some of the schools, and got into a discussion about private occupancy v{s social housing in the UK which really interesting our contact as well.

We got on to the cigar trade and our contact told us that the cigars in the tourist shops were ridiculously priced and if we wanted some for a small fee he could buy some premium cigars which if we brought back to the UK he could assure us we would make a fortune reselling. No pressure just an offer of help.

He showed us to a local bus stop and with our fistful of local currency we were ready to start spending it, the queuing system consists of asking who is at the back of the queue then remembering who you are behind and walking off to sit down somewhere, also there are two queues one for standing and one for sitting, it was all very complicated, we didnt have any small change though, so at the request of our guide we gave the driver a 500% tip, in total including the tip the bus ride cost 6p (that is British pence) for both of us, crazy just crazy. The bus ride passed and it was so busy it really was like a being squashed in like sardines. After an argument between a lady whos breasts were rubbing against my face and a man behind they both agreed we should get off at the next stop. As the bus came to a stop two rather large bottomed ladies both tried to create a space to let me through, however there rather large bottoms were still touching each other, being a bit too polite I tried to get them to move however the people on the bus started getting annoyed so I had to take the plunge squeezing between the first set of cheeks then stopping for a break where the crevices met and finally squeezing out of the last set of cheeks, now that is what I call a reall booty sandwich. Erica was in hysterics and I think that was more the fact I took a break mid arse and looked back at her.

Anyway the beach, Santa Maria, was lovely it was sunny and warm but with a really strong breeze, it whipped the sand up a bit but to be honest we were quite happy just sat reading. There were jelly fish littering the beach, these beautiful blue things, so the red flag was up but we werent bothered about swimming anyway the breeze kept us cool.  I then got bored of reading which was a book about a unit of the FBI who used psycic powers to catch the bad guys, it really wasnt my bag. The tunes however were and after a short negotiation I was ordering a quiet beer or two... or three and before long I was six or seven in and singing or dancing whilst lay down. I got a quick rap on the knuckles from Lady E before wandering off to try and find a toilet. I did and ended up dragging her off for our first Mojito's and a cut price burger, well she insisted I should eat but 1.2 quid was a bit of a waste in my eyes. We tried to get on the bus back to town and ended up in a similarly crowded situation but I couldnt find any opportunities to squeeze in between any bum cheeks so settled for us both standing on the baggage rack area, it was the least crowded area of the bus, I suppose that is not so suprising really.

When we got back into town I was still a little giddy and we ended up finding a bar that sold beers for about 60p so we pulled up a pew, it was near the china town area but had loud Cuban music and a dance floor full of women. We pulled up a pew and got two beers to watch some fantastic salsa and some dirty bumping and grinding with a bit of top class boogeying again an eldery western man and a local who both soon disappeared off into the night together, it was quite obvious Cuba was a bit of a sex tourism destination. This still didnt particularly detract from what was some fantastic salsa elsewhere on the dancefloor.

Erica refused to get stuck into the street food asking that as we hadnt really eaten except for a small burger could we spend a bit of money eating out, we eventually found a chinese that included a mojito, a beer and a set menu for 3.50 pounds, I suppose I couldnt really argue. My chinese soup was a little bit on the vomit side of tasteless and my main not much better, however Lady E's was pretty good actually. It wasnt long before we were chatting to a cuban guy on the next table, who seemed a bit suprised by how much we new about Cuba and was amazed that we had managed to find somewhere to stay that was unofficial. He bought us a drink without us knowing and I was immediately a bit over wary, we had been warned the previous night, despite this being a very safe and friendly place people will try and rip you off. This added to the fact that his meal for two was probably a months wage for a typical Cuban and I was really wary. They refused our offer of a drink in return but suggested we head to the place where he worked for a drink. Erica insisted there was nothing dubious and I couldnt help but agree they seemed genuinely nice. We arrived at his place of work with me trollied and Erica sober to be greeted by about 30 prostitutes who initially came running but on seeing Lady E soon scarpered to the tables in the bar. We pulled up a pew in the bar and I was given a box of cigars (this after a previous conversation that I hadnt tried a Cuban cigar, in fact had only ever tried about two cigars, one of which I left after about 5 puffs).

We had a bit of an argument about the cigars to be fair, with me saying I couldnt afford to buy anything back in return and that I didnt want them anyway he asked we only buy two rounds of drinks, after about 10 clarifications of exactly how much the drinks would be they were in fact reasonably priced. Still being suspicious (that is very much in my breeding and the old travellers "if its too good to be true" thing) after the bar man whipped up four Mojito's (bearing in mind our host is the bar mans work colleague) I started swapping my drinks with everyone elses, so Id engage the guy in conversation then distract him pointing at one of the prostitutes asking what she was doing and switch his drink with mine, Erica was horrified, but if you are a regular reader of dangers and annoyances drink spiking is one of the worlds favourite methods of robbery. During our second round some of the brothels more service orientated customers arrived and we were most amused to see the America guy next to us at the bar get turned down by every prostitue in the bar, we didnt think that could happen in a place of disrepute. Anyway all of a sudden about 3 very heavy set guys opened the door and starting looking around before shepherding in three small and very young looking Asian guys, they pulled up a chair at the bar and the women were absolutely all over them grabbing there hands and putting them in very rude places.

I engaged these guys in conversation as they spoke immaculate English and I assumed they may be from the UK however couldnt figure out why they would have bodyguards and an entourage. They said they were from Myanmar, well I nearly fell off my chair I was hit by all kinds of emotions at once, being so well educated, allowed to leave Myanmar to visit Cuba and with an entourage of bodyguards we were only sat next to what I can imagine were the sons of some of the generals of Myanmar, people who rank as high in our minds as Pol Pot and Adolf Hitler, I quickly decided you cant just punch somebodies lights out for the actions of their father so opted to help our hosts (as I still wasnt unconcious from any date rape drugs) and explained that these guys were billionaires and they asked where they could by some cigars from. The message was lost in translation and we had to get three other guys from outside the bar by the time they understood I wanted to them to sell the cigars they had given me for a LOT of money the guys had selected their choice of women and were off somewhere else. Our Cuban friends took it all pretty well and were laughing afterwards that they got so angry when I was thrusting the box of cigars they had given to me back at them saying sell, sell, they responded "this is your gift we sell to no one". Still they were very grateful we had tried to help them earn a few quid which would not be missed in Myanmar by the generals who had stolen the money from the Burmese people in the first place.

We then felt all a bit sad with the memories of our travels in Myanmar, a place where some paralells could be drawn with the peoples plight in Cuba of not having much money while the leaders can afford whatever they want. It had been an interesting day but it hadnt been the early night we wanted, we walked back out through the pitch black streets back to our neighourhood and found the pitchblack staircase at about half past one in the morning, again we couldnt get into the house and were absolutely steaming drunk, we also had the promise of free drinks at the brothel tomorrow for tonights efforts, it had been a night of great interest but we dont really want to make a habit of drinking in brothels.  We stopped by the petrol station and got a few more beers, to enjoy on the way home and there was a guy sat outside the forecourt on a plastic chair, I gave him one of the beers saying "Viva la Cuba" yes I was trollied but he was extremely grateful and just sat there in astonishment.  We opened the door and were surprised to find t he house still awake and out host blow drying her hair.  Instantly in a drunken haze I grabbed Ericas straighteners and gave them to her, it was a revelation with everyone trying them out - it really hit home that things that we take for granted these people find extraordinary.
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