By Aurelio Pedroso (Progreso Semanal)
HAVANA TIMES – If there’s one private sector business that hasn’t experienced a significant setback in these past six months of COVID-19, it’s rooms for rent by the hour. Conversely, restaurants, cafes, bars and even rooms, apartments and homes available for longer than three hours, have gone sour.
My friend Albert Montesinos has been running this kind of rental business for over 10 years. When he first started out, it was completely underground just like I imagine most of the encounters taking place there. Then, he got a rental license. And the truth is, he can’t really complain as he makes enough to at least get by.
He explains it like this:
“I thought that our clientele would dwindle with all of this coronavirus business, but the exact opposite has happened. We’ve kept our old clients and new ones have come too. Like police commissioner Montalvano (popular Italian police series) would say, people are “dipping their bread in the sauce” more than ever.
He reflects and says outright:
“I’m not the only one who has been successful, everyone offering this service has been.”
A curious observation that should immediately be studied by sociologists and psychologists. Economists will also have “study material,” According to Montesino, recently clients are paying in Cuban pesos (CUP), and are using CUC less and less.
Only one moment has now diminished the flow of (generally secret) lovers. These past few days of a curfew in the capital. Clearly, for two reasons. One, out of respect for authority. And two, out of the proper interpretation of the risk perception that will extend until the end of the month.
“Look, not even one customer has come,” he stresses.
He once asked the late author Manuel Cofino about the reason for his book title “La ultima mujer y el proximo combate” (The last woman and the next battle), which is an example of contemporary Cuban literature.
Cofino explained to the journalist that when he was finishing it, he had a conversation with an ex-guerrillero who said that it was what he thought about the most when he was up in the mountains: “About the last woman and the next battle.”
One must play dumb in this profession, quite often sometimes. So, I said to my friend:
“Oh, young people…”
“Nope. This is like the movies that warn it’s suitable for all ages.”
Nobody should doubt that we are in a war right now, although it’s this peculiar fight against a virus. Physical distancing, much less the mask, are used in such a risky but necessary act in these times of COVID-19.
If only one day we get hard statistics from Cuba’s Office of Statistics. They must be following this phenomenon, or at least looking at it to study and analyze.