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Published: August 25th 2007
It's 2am and I just got home from Carnival. Katrin, Paula and I went with some Cuban guys to an outdoor concert to see two Cuban Reggaeton and Salsa groups perform. When we got to Raquel's they warned us not to wear any jewellery or to bring a purse because there are lots of bag snatchers. So of course I was on guard for the rest of the night, to the point of paranoia. When we finally got to the venue, it was chockers. I've never seen so many people squashed together for a concert. And the dancing -- Aussie guys don't dance like Cuban guys, that's for sure. After only two songs I was sweating like a pig, it would've been embarrassing had I been the only one but Cubans in the crowd came prepared with face clothes to wipe themselves. I, on the other hand, could feel my makeup dripping off my face. Noice. There was one particular Cuban who took a shine to me and insisted on dancing too close. Granted all Cubans dance extremely close, but this made me extremely uncomfortable. I've never been around so many men in such a confined space, it wasn't the nicest feeling. Had it been Mardi Gras, and I was squashed against queer boys and girls, I would've loved it. But sweaty strange men bumping and grinding against my bum so close that I can feel their bits is just plain gross and offensive. I managed to survive it and we left at the end of the concert.
I have to say that while some of the women are attractive, overall it's the men who are the most attractive. If you're a straight woman you'd have a field day. Generally speaking, the men are tall and lean, if not seriously buff, not pastey and pudgy like a lot of Australian guys. If you are a short Aussie guy and the Cuban women approach you, it can safely be said they're after a ticket out of Cuba. Having said that, the Cuban men are no different. Call me cynical, but it's hard to take a man seriously who tries to chat you up repeating the same rehearsed lines in broken English when in the back of your mind you're thinking they're after free drinks or a ticket out of Cuba. I keep thinking of "How Stella Got Her Groove Back". We all know how that ended (the true life story, not the film), and it wasn't good. Even the ugly Cuban guys with no teeth will have a crack at chatting up Western women. There was one toothless man in particular who made a play for Katrin, the look of horror on her face was priceless.
Another observation is how expensive Cuba is. It has to be the capital of tipping and swindling. I understand the expectation for tipping because of their economic crisis but still, the amount of money I've gone through in tips is astounding. It makes me wonder how tight arses who never tip survive holidaying here. Perhaps they think by holidaying here it's gift enough for the locals.
Saturday 28 July 2007 - day time
Today I spent the day at the Hotel Santiago pool, swimming, re-writing my Spanish notes and sunbaking. Can you really sunbake covered in SPF 55+? But I reckon I have tan lines!
Cubatur finally had some English speakers book a tour to the Sierra Maestra Mountains but it's on Wednesday so I'll have to miss class. That's too bad. I didn't come all this way and spend all this money to miss out on seeing the legendary mountains for one five hour Spanish lesson.
After tomorrow's scuba diving and Wednesday's tour, I'll be down to my final CUC30. With no means of withdrawing extra money, that means no Baracoa. I've been told mixed things about Baracoa; that it's beautiful but you wouldn't stay longer than a weekend. Now I don't have the choice so that makes it easier. But now I have to decide whether I leave Cuba next Monday, as planned, or leave on the weekend if I'm seriously low on money. I've had major issues withdrawing money here. My credit card and debit cards are with Westpac but I still can't acces my money. I can't even use my Travelex Cash Passport which is supposed to work everywhere. Go figure. I asked the international bank here if my parents can wire money to them but they said they have no ties to Australian banks.
So besides wasting $1,300 in two weeks of unused Spanish classes, dance lessons and accommodation, I will have wasted a ton of money on dance classes because this week I will have to cancel Wednesday's and I cancelled last Thursday's to go the beach with the girls. It's a lesson learnt -- next time, book and pay for the minimum services on offer and buy extra only when I get there. I really wish my $300 had gone directly to Ramon and not some shonky UK language company.
We have hit a new low. Tonight the guy upstairs played Michael Bolton singing "What A Wonderful World This Would Be". I turned up the music on my laptop in an effort to drown it out. Unsuccessfully.
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