cuban club

Dating in Cuba

It’s weird. The dating scene in Cuba that is. It is the strangest “dating” scene I have seen, right up there with Ukraine – which is comprised of suspicious middle-aged men from America who are who creepily roam the wild land of the East looking for a bride to bring back to their middle-class hovel in the American heartland. However, Cuba’s dating scene is a bit more obtuse, as technology and government entanglement come into play if you are a foreign lad not looking for a mail order bride or the sex for money trade.

This will be a weird post, so I understand if you don’t wish to proceed, as it is a strange topic with an even stranger outcome that probably doesn’t affect more than 40% of readers of this blog.  Nonetheless, because my number one Google searched query for this site is Sex in Cuba, along with the connoisseurs of commercial sex that follow, I thought it fitting to throw in my two cents on dating in Cuba.

First and foremost, prostitution of both men and women is rampant in Cuba. I have stated this already. My first hour there, as I sat at bar in Havana with a newly made Australian friend, a kind hearted local man sat with us while we drank our first mojito – he got us to buy him an overpriced one too of course. As we sat, our new friend wanted to make sure we were treated well on his island, so he continually introduced us to all of his lady “friends”.

 “Do like this one? She is very nice.”

It probably wouldn’t have felt as awkward had this not been the fifth nice girl he plucked at random off the street, hopping to score a commission for his en prompt match making service.

cuban bar

the tourist trap bar – $5 mojitos – a true crime scene

Cuban bar

Cuban bar – the nicer version

Things continued this way in Cuba in some which way or form.

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My second night I met up with two German girls who I encountered earlier in the day. Tall with light colored eyes, they stood in stark contrast with the local atmosphere.

 “So are you ready to go out for some drinks?”

“Ja. We are running a bit late. The police were bothering us again.”

“What? Why were they bothering you?”

“Well – they weren’t bothering us, but we were with the guy we are waiting for right now – Mike. They think he is Cuban.”

Mike is from Atlanta and he is black.

 “Why does it matter if they think he is Cuban?”

“The Cubans aren’t suppose to fraternize with tourists unless they are working officially.”

“What?!  Yeah – right.”

Mike arrived.

 “Hey what’s up man. I’m Mike.”

The words had barely left his lips when a nearby set of Cuban police officers was on the scene.

[insert something Spanishy and questioning like] as they came upon Mike.

A bouncer standing guard at a nearby bar came out to help the police understand that Mike was not in fact Cuban. It wasn’t a difficult sell once they took one look at Mike’s “shoes” – they were these new age ugly shoes with the each of the 5 toes wrapped up and seperated. Cuban’s don’t have those – nor would they be caught dead in them.

5 fingered shoes

the give away

 “Does this happen a lot to you here?” I asked Mike.

“Yeah man. This is my 4th time in Cuba. They aren’t suppose to be seen talking with foreigners in the street unless they have a reason.”

The night continued in a normal fashion. Mojitos, Cuba’s finest live music. I spotted a girl dressed to kill lingering on the corner looking for a friend.

 “I think I will say ‘hola’ and make my move”

“Naw man. She can’t talk to you out here.”

“Well let’s see”

“Hola, como….”

The girl’s mouth dropped as she brushed me away and ran inside. High school memories flooded back.

Less than 10 minutes later as we were hailing a cab, the once disgusted girl, now inside the bar, caught my eye before I left. She enthusiastically waved me in to dance.

 

cuba car

Cuban taxi

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 My Australian friend, Mike and I sat at the only brewery in Havana, smoking cigars and taking in the Havana scene A Cuban family sat down next to us. An aunt, her niece (who had 6 fingers), and her gay cousin from Miami. They were eager to chat and to find out why were we in Cuba. The conversation quickly turned to her niece’s interest in me. She wants to meet you again the aunt explained.

 “Ok. How about the beach tomorrow?”

Mike gave me a look. He had been disinterested from the get go in the conversation, until he had seen that she had 6 fingers and wanted to help make a love connection for some reason. I think he thought it was novel. He explained to me,

 “Man, she can’t meet you there.”

“Why not?”

“She just can’t man. It has to be a more private beach that is more local to her. She can’t get to the other beach and there could be police there”.

cuban woman

My buddy wing maning with the aunt

 

cuban girl

Me showcasing my dancing quality

 

cuban girl

 

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I was going onto my third week in Cuba. I was pretty tired of it all to be honest. I am inquisitive by nature, and like to figure out systems, but I couldn’t seem to crack the Cuba dating code. What was acceptable and what was unacceptable in the courting process? I had heard of a wealthy Swiss guy taking a girl all over Cuba – but he had hired a car since taking the bus was out of the question.  Cubans take one kind of bus, and tourists take another kind of bus. Segregation of transportation.

cubans

Nice Cuban local teens in a smaller town willing to show us a good time and defy the authorities

I was spending my last 4 days in Cuba. I hit up the Casa de Musica, to watch the Cubans do what they do best – dance – while watching gringos do what they do best – flail about hopelessly like wounded animals on the dance floor. I had managed to make it through the night unscathed, thwarting off the girls dressed up asking if I wanted a “companera” when I met my first Cuban girl not working the bar for a customer for the night. She actually didn’t look Cuban. She looked more Spanish, but one minute of dancing confirmed that she was in fact Cuban. She moved with ease and had the most graceful touch. She even complimented me on my “unique dancing style”.

As the night ended she informed me that her father was picking her and her friend up because they lived 45 minutes away. I thought it would be a great opportunity to meet my future father-in-law, but she wanted to save that moment for another time. She gave me her number and asked me to call her the next day.

 “Oh ok. So this is your cell phone number?”

“No, it is to my house”

Most Cuban’s don’t have cellphones. A sim card costs $40, and with the average monthly salary being $25, the home phone is the go to option. I was pretty elated, not only did I score a phone number of a hot little salsa-ista, but I got to practice my Spanish over the next several days trying to call her house explaining to her mother that I am the dirty dog gringo trying to sex up romance her daughter.

Using the telephone is also not a straightforward act in Cuba. You can use a land line of the Casa particular (Cuba residence) where you are staying to call, or you have to buy a special government issued calling card to use at pay phones and pray that you call when they are home. It is probably kind of like dating in the 1960’s except with the added allure of foreign languages, government oversight, and the reality of even if you can set up a date in the future, you must also figure out how to get to their house, and where you can go without the police asking why are you talking to this dirty dog?

cuban telephone

cuban telephones

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So in the end, was I able to crack the Cuban dating scene code? Are the obstacles too much to overcome in pursuit of true love? Yes and no, but juggling the telephone company, police, parents, and language barriers – is much easier than dealing with the Bachelorized fantasies of American women.

 

**All names have been changed to been to protect the innocent, but since there are no innocent, they were just changed because I can’t remember.

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Turner barr
turnerbarr@gmail.com

Hi, my name is Turner. I travel the world, hustle to find interesting jobs, and write about what happens when you read too many self-help books.

3 Comments
  • Asokemark
    Posted at 13:52h, 27 January

    Loved it!  Having been to Cuba and seeing some of this firsthand, I understand.  The temptations are many and the fruit is sweet.  But the dating scene is desperation for the women and security for the families….

    • Around the World in 80 Jobs
      Posted at 19:49h, 27 January

      Yeah. Cuba for me is a bit tricky. On the one hand it has some of the best dancing, music, photo worthy atmosphere, but the poverty there is so rampant and people can’t leave or move up in society. And unfortunately, there arent many jobs around, so women will resort to what they need to in order to survive. I was drawing a distinction however in this article and not referring to the prostitution which is everywhere.  Although, I am sure there are some older men who are more “dating” or wife searching as you are alluding to. Thanks for writing in.

  • Alex
    Posted at 03:20h, 28 January

    You just have no fun. Ever. 😛