—Alexander was still dying of embarrassment two hours after I told him that I am Cuban and that there is no way in the world I would pay to have sex with anyone.
The two hours seemed like two lifetimes, listening to him speak of things I had only read in sensationalist magazines, newspapers and books from abroad that attack the government and accuse it of violating human rights.
Two hours were enough to erode the absurd innocence in which I had been living for so long and the blindness that prevented me from seeing the numerous errors we commit every day and the idiotic way we spend our energy avoiding or hiding.
Hiding the truth from whom? For what reason? Why discredit ourselves so foolishly? To what end?
I pondered these and other questions on the walk home. Replaying in my mind were the words of Alexander, a former bodyguard who, since his house collapsed in Pinar del Rio, has felt it necessary to travel every week to the Capital to prostitute himself.
He sleeps in the street on nights he cannot find a client. He survives on a pizza or a sandwich or nothing on days when he has no customer.
Every week Alexander goes home with between 50 and 70 convertible pesos (US $65-85), an amount that would seem like a small fortune to most Cubans, but to him it isn’t enough to purchase
the construction materials he needs to rebuild his house and to feed and cloth himself and pay for his weekly trips. He said that despite having gone through all the possible and impossible procedures with all the pertinent and not pertinent agencies, to seek help with the materials, he has only received vague long-term promises in reply.
Many questions pounded away in my head during my walk home. I had strong doubts about the veracity of Alexander’s testimony, until I shared this experience with some friends. To be continued…