First-Class Business in Old Havana

Daisy Valera

Photo by Elio Delgado.

If someone in the streets of Old Havana proposes conducting “first-class business” with you, tell them no.

Why?  It’s simple: prostitution is a synonym for “first-class business.”

I was seated recently in one of the parks of historic Old Havana reading a book by a poet who likes birds.

As would be expected, I wasn’t paying attention to anyone or anything else.

This however didn’t prevent a certain individual from sitting down exactly on the same bench as mine and starting to talk to me.

This individual, who said he was a chef at the Floridita (one of the most famous bar-restaurants in the country), bombarded me with questions.

He began like this:

“You know you caught my attention for being so pretty?  Are you a dancer?”

He continued:

“How old are you? Where do you live?”

I didn’t utter a single word in response to his enquiries; I only shot him an unfriendly look.

This self-professed cook didn’t surrender:

“What’s your name?  Would you like to work with tourists?”

And lastly:

“Would you like to be part of a ‘first-class business’?”

To me it was as clear as water what business he was referring to, and with no other alternative I got up and left.

I definitely lack the aptitude for either being a dancer or a “business woman.”

Daisy Valera

Daisy Valera:Soil scientist and blogger. I write from Mexico City, where Havana sometimes becomes so small that it disappears. However in others, the Cuban capital is a city so past and present that it steals your breath.

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