Getting a Date Here in Havana

By Irina Pino

Photo: Caridad

HAVANA TIMES — It was easy for my generation to fall in love and have sex. Everything used to flow so naturally, we weren’t after money. That doesn’t mean to say that prostitution and self-interested people didn’t exist…, however, it wasn’t an odyssey to find pleasant company, far from that.

When we used to get to know each other, it didn’t have to be via invitations to expensive hotels and restaurants, but rather to a simple movie theater, theater, the Malecon seawall, a park or a small party. Money did, of course, have value, having 20 pesos in your pocket used to be a fortune. Booking a room in a luxury hotel used to cost 21 pesos. There were all kinds of lodges, cheaper places, where you could pay 2 pesos per hour for a room.

In the old days, you used to have fun camping out and about, staying to sleep on a beach. Opportunities to have fun without spending a lot of money were countless. The personality of the person you chose to spend your time with, their qualities, their spirituality were much more important.

For example, I once met a painter at a street exhibition and we went to the old Casa del Te, on 23rd and G Streets. We spent hours there talking, reciting poems to each other. In the early morning, we walked through Havana’s streets like two bohemians and we ended up making love behind the 1830 restaurant. That was the beginning of a beautiful romantic relationship, at a time when people weren’t so badly intentioned.

Now, my son is 17 years old and when I ask him if he has a girlfriend or a girl he has his eyes on, he tells me that things are super difficult. You need a significant amount of money to be able to go out and the girls at his school are mostly “mikis”, a label which implies a certain financial status, a good phone, brand clothing and certain attitudes.

You can’t talk to them about going to a movie theater or sitting in a park; they prefer to go to a bar, or a club, an elegant place where they can show off their rags. They hate teenagers with nothing in their pockets, they rule them out before they even get invited out, looking at them as if they are outcasts.

A friend of his collected over 20 CUC (23 USD) and invited one of these girls to go out. He spent all of the money and didn’t even get a kiss goodnight. She sent him to hell immediately after that, she doesn’t answer the phone whenever he calls.

Other kids, who are only looking for sex, only need to pay one of these girls 5 CUC to do it.

On the other hand, there is online dating, some people are lucky; others have a fright or are greatly disappointed.

I’m not denying the fact that there is another class of young women, who appreciate true values, but they are an endangered species, self-interest rules: “tell me what you have and I’ll tell you who you are.”

The situation depends on the social circle you move in, but the truth is that the country has changed: those with greater purchasing power live to consume. The romantic world is just another memory, where “we used to lose our time” on a good conversation, even though there wasn’t anything more than a bottle of cheap rum and a park bench.

Irina Pino

Irina Pino: I was born in the middle of shortages in those sixties that marked so many patterns in the world. Although I currently live in Miramar, I miss the city center with its cinemas and theaters, and the bohemian atmosphere of Old Havana, where I often go. Writing is the essential thing in my life, be it poetry, fiction or articles, a communion of ideas that identifies me. With my family and my friends, I get my share of happiness.

18 thoughts on “Getting a Date Here in Havana

  • September 11, 2017 at 11:59 am

    Well Joao Castro, you make a few interesting comments. But firstly your reference to “your (my) extremism clearly causes a lack of objectivity” reflects a disbelief that the comments I made were factual. Is that because you think I am lying, or because you dislike factual criticism of communism in general and the Castro regime in particular? I can only ask unbiased readers to read what I wrote and judge for themselves.
    I make no excuse for my detestation of communism and its awful dictatorial consequences for those who have the misfortune to suffer it. My opposition to the imposition of creating a “proletarian mass” rather than individuality reflects my concern for the best aspects of humanity, for me, human beings are more than cattle.
    I have no idea who suggested that the statistics produced by the World Health Organization are bogus – perhaps you know who did?
    But, speaking of statistics, perhaps you can substantiate the current claim by the Castro regime that only 9.9% of Cubans are black?
    If you are endeavoring to paint me as a supporter of US history and actions in regard to Cuba, don’t bother. my views have been published and they are not flattering for example:
    “It would be erroneous to consider that Cubans today are unaware or not resentful about these political actions, the Monroe Doctrine, the 1902 Constitution Platt Amendment and the Helms-Burton Act. All introduced unilaterally by their large powerful northern neighbour. They have made it easy for the Castro family regime to exploit the 1960 embargo as the reason for all its own sins, incompetence and omissions, Cubans have one of the highest literacy levels in the world (UN figures) their mental abilities are fully equal to those of the peoples of the free world. The US would be well advised to tread lightly in any public actions related to Cuba, not to appease the Castro regime, but to be seen as reasonable by the people of Cuba if they seek a future amicable relationship.”
    So Joao, you may regard such an expressed view as extremist, but others do not.
    There are those like yourself Joao, who seek to support the Castro regime by comparing Cuba with others who may be even worse off. So I guess that until Cuba sinks to the even lower level of say North Korea, all in Cuba is well in your eyes?

  • September 11, 2017 at 8:57 am

    ´´fifty eight years of communism to achieve´´: no matter how right you may be in some things (eg I wonder if things could be different in Italy during the II WW between fascists and communists), your extremism clearly causes a lack of objectivity. Those 58 years are marked also by the violent, criminal and sometimes terrorist (Barbados mass murder attack, etc.) embargo. Cuba doesn´t show any more poverty than any other country I know in Latin America and I have never seen undernourished, even starvation bellies in children there. On the contrary, children are taken care, protected and all go to school and maybe university later on. Also, medical coverage, both in urban and rural areas, would you say was it better before the revolution?! Mortality rates ´´witnessed´´ by the WHO are fake?! Just try to keep a bit more critical, ´´open-minded´´, as the subtitle of Havana Times says…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *