By Irina Pino

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Photo: Sandie Butler

HAVANA TIMES — Having sex in an appropriate space is of course perfect, however back in the ‘80s, we had very few options. As I’ve written before in a past post, people used to have sex in different places, like rooftops, a stairway.

However, the real places meant for enjoying this pleasurable activity were called “posadas”, where you could rent a room by the hour. If I remember correctly, I think it used to cost a little more than 2 pesos per hour. Nevertheless, this insignificant sum meant money, when all we had was the Cuban peso and the US dollar was banned.

These buildings had many rooms and couples would come and wait in line. There were more discreet posadas that had more inconspicuous entrances, surrounded by walls and groves. I can still remember the place on 11 and 24th Streets, right next to the Iron Bridge, which now serves as a “transitional housing unit” for families who, for one reason or another, have ended up without their own homes.

The majority of these rentals were in bad condition, poky little rooms with bathrooms without running water, where two glass bottles filled with water were placed religiously on the floor next to the toilet, so that the woman could wash herself because it was hardly enough for both of them. Not to mention the bed sheets, full of yellow stains, a map of sex stories, names scribbled on the walls of those who had passed through this room and wanted to leave proof of their lovemaking or of their irresistable passion.

Even the doors didn’t give you the utmost sense of security, they didn’t close properly and a funny fact: sometimes you could find some holes in them if you looked closely enough. Drinks were bad and watery.

There wasn’t any privacy really, you could hear people in the rooms next door shouting, cursing, moaning with pleasure as other couples were also having sex at the exact same time. Some people used to take their radio or cassette player to take their minds off what was going on around them, and sometimes snacks if they were going to stay there for a few hours.

La esquina de 11 y 24
The corner of 11th and 24th Streets.

There were even cases of married couples running into each other, each with their own love affair, or a husband who caught his wife with her lover, or vice-versa; that was how blood was spilled, scandals were sparked and comic anecdotes were made.

Knowing what kind of poor conditions there were at these places, before leaving my house, I always took the precaution of putting a sheet in my purse, because they used to make me sick and I didn’t like lying down on a bed of questionable cleanliness, and another thing: I never used to sit down on the toilet either.

At one point, my boyfriend, who used to work as a gas station attendant, always had money and as a result, we never had to wait those long lines: he used to give the employee on his shift a little bit of money on the side and we used to get a room really quickly.

But I didn’t have that boyfriend for very long, so when I used to go with other boyfriends who weren’t as well off, I used to have to deal with that horrible line, I didn’t have any other choice if what I wanted was to have was “private” sex.

One time, I went to a lodge that resembled a motel: the room had air conditioning, the walls were painted a nice color, the sheets were immaculately clean and there were good drinks. It was a little outside the city and people normally used to go there by car. Destiny’s irony: I didn’t like that guy not one bit.

The posadas became history when the Special Period crisis of the ’90s began, and now you have to pay at least 5 CUC (5.75 USD) per hour to have sex.


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.

2 thoughts on “Sex in Rooms by the Hour

  • That’s an interesting aspect of Cuban social life which most non-Cubans would not be aware of: how difficult it is for lovers to find time alone.

    It reminds me of the opening scene in the classic Cuban film, “Fresa y Chocolate”, when the young couple rent a seedy room together for what turns out to be a frustrating and awkward assignation. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F3qakj6hWbE

  • Thanks for the walk down memory lane.

    And not to quibble, but there are still lots of places available for waaaaay less than 5 CUC/hour…

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