Cuban Hospitality

After a few days in Cuba, you realize a few things about Cubans: they have very little, they are given very little, they are very nonviolent, and they love tourists. Why do they love tourists? Because they generally give them what they want. What do they want? Money, clothing, and sex, and not necessarily in that order.

Enter day 6 of the Cuban experience…..

Jason, Carlos, Newfie Joe, and Venassa rents a car and drive towards the far west of Cuba to stay in a town called Pinar Del Rio, home of the Cuban Cigars. After a day in the city, they are already the talk of the town. They decide to get some tourist information on cigar factories from the one and only hotel in town and are immediately intercepted by a man on a bike. He introduces himself as Felix and offers his services of taking them to the factory. No money wanted, just for communications. They thank Felix but opt to do it on their own. Felix seems like a good man, so Venassa grabs a pair of jeans from her bag of clothes to giveaway, and hands it to him. Felix is grateful. And it begins. The brand new white rental car sticks out like a white man at a rap concert.

They finish the cigar tour and head back into town for dinner. After turning down a few offers from people taking them to the same place, which they were ripped off at just the night prior, they find a reasonable legit restaurant. During the waiting for food, Newfie Joe and Carlos are outside for a smoke. Felix finds them and somehow knows that they are planning to attend a salsa party this night. He asks if they like salsa. “Not really but Venassa does” is the answer. Felix inquires the status of Venassa and weather any of the guys is her boyfriend or trying to be her boyfriend. No is the answer for this question, which pops up numerous of times. Then another guy comes from nowhere and starts a rumour about a rock bar in town. They return with the information, and the others are intrigued by this rock bar in Cuba. They ask the waitress, and she doesn’t know of any rock bars in town. When they leave the restaurant, Felix is still outside, now with a guy and 2 girls dressed in punk rock outfits. Newfie Joe inquires about this rock bar. “It’s not far from here” they reply. Felix suggests the guys can go to the rock bar with his punk rock friends and Venassa can go salsa with him. Jason, Carlos and Newfie Joe give each other a look, then one of the ‘punk rock’ friends asks if they like Linkin Park. They reply with a no and that they would be checking out the salsa.

They head back to the casa they are staying at. It is with an old man that looks like Frank Castanza from Seinfeld, so that is what they call him. All except Carlos, who seems to think they are calling him Frankenstein. When they finish getting dressed and ready for the salsa party, Felix is outside of Castanza’s house waiting. Venassa has a chat with him outside, with Frankenstein watching over. Carlos inquires about Felix and Castanza suggests that they should stick with him for the night.

They arrive at the cabaret and are told that Carlos can’t enter because of his tank top. But Felix finds a shirt from somewhere and hands it to him and they are good to go. They are guided to a table in the front. Beside them is a table with one girl sitting down by herself. The salsa show begins and it is a spectacle. During the show, 2 more girls sits down at the table beside them, one of which looks oddly like one of the punk rock girls in a different outfit. The show ends and the girls immediately leave the table and starts dancing. One of them grabs Jason and they begin to salsa. Felix asks Venassa to salsa and Carlos and Newfie Joe are laughing at Jason’s dancing abilities. Jason finds out that the girl is 17 and sits down after the song finishes and informs the others.

cuban salsa

One of the other girls asks Carlos to dance and he kindly rejects. She leaves and is not seen again for the rest of the night. Meanwhile, Felix keeps ordering bottles of Cuba’s finest rum for the boys to drink, while he salsas with Venassa. They happily oblige and drink away, as they watch the 2 salsa and the chicas put on a dancing show in front of them. The clock hits midnight and the cabaret kicks everybody out. Felix suggests a place around the corner to continue partying. 7 pack into the car, the 4 amigos, Felix, and the 2 chicas. They drive no more than 2 minutes and arrive at the other place and are immediately greeted by the police. Everyone splits and Jason and Carlos are left to deal with the cops. A 30 peso fine is given for having too many people in the car. Felix feels bad and hands over 7 pesos to help with the cost. The money is returned with no hard feelings. More familiar faces are in this other place, as the amigos surprising see most of the people whom they have met throughout the first day in town, who all seem to be good friends with each other. The 2 chicas continue to woo the boys but to no avail. When the place closes at 2 am, Felix suggests yet another place in town that they could go.

They drive to the center of town and are told to pull over. “This is it” Felix explains. The place was just the main street of the town and people are there waiting already. A friend of Felix then asks Jason to drive him to his place to get some music to bring back. He guides him around the town but some how has a bad memory of where he lives. After an hour of confusion and a few non working discs later, they return to the center with a cd the works. When they return, pretty much everyone they had met in the city during their short stay, is partying along, the chicas are still working hard. Music begins to pump and then they are greeted by the local police again. Everyone’s name and identification are taken down except for the tourists. Half of the people leave.

Felix suggests they go back to Castanza’s place, which is utterly rejected. Then one of his friends finally blatantly asks Jason what has been obvious all night. He asks if his boy can spend the night at Frankensteins place. Jason thanks him for the fun night and gathers the amigos, as it is time to go home. Leaving is not as easy as thought though, as the white car has gained a reputation during its stay and is mobbed by the crowd. Venassa throws half of her clothing to giveaway towards the group and the car is finally able to drive away. The amigos arrive back to Castanza’s place at an early 5am, with Venassa’s flight set to leave at 1pm from Havana, a mere 2 hour drive away. But it is all worth it, the night is entertaining.

When was the last time someone tried this hard to sleep with you? Venassa thought. Felix even had the whole town trying to help him. You gotta give him credit for the effort. But it was all under control and no one ever felt threaten at any point of the night. It was just Cuban hospitality!


Jason is the author of the book This All Encompassing Trip and loves to travel to see Pearl Jam. He spends his time doing design and video work as well as running a daddy blog called The Rockstar Dad.

1 Comment

  • This had me LOL the entire time…oh my word! I can’t believe I had no idea what was going on till the next morning when you finally told me hahha….”Just keep dacing, we have things under control!” lol

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