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By day the Cuban girls batted their eyes, smiled and waved at me or blew kisses to me. If I sat on a bench, a girl quickly appeared at the other end of it.

By night they hissed from the shadows or yowled out from street corners. Even standing before a Santería shrine, an attendant was sure I needed a date for the night.

They dance for a while and he is convinced she totally digs his shit because she is all over him.

After dinner he pays and they jump in a taxi to a club.

The taxi ride and cover charge cost almost nothing, although drinks in the club are pretty expensive by Cuban standards.

They used foreign currency and never really saw just how tough life on a Special Period ration card could be. Sex – or love or whatever you want to call it – is pretty much inextricably linked to money in Cuba (at least as far as tourists are concerned). No fixed, hourly rates, few pimps or brothels, and a lot less of the usual background sleaze like drug abuse and sex slavery.

As far as the guys I talked to were concerned, the girls had as much right to make a few transactions, picking up in Cuba is an informal matter.

People still talk about the time as a kind of mystical disappearance; one day Cuba had an economy, the next day it had vanished.

While the people were improvising and finding some pretty radical ways to get by (Cuba was becoming sustainable decades before doing so came into vogue), the government was substituting one sugar daddy for another by opening the country wide for tourism.In the morning he is elated and she is still fucking gorgeous.Before she leaves she asks him if he has some extra money for a pair of shoes she really wants/for a birthday gift for her mother/for a ticket to visit her cousin in another town.Rule #3: Sex is not free, but prices are negotiable.In a country where health care and education are free and basic produce is covered by a ration card, wages are very low.As I tried to avoid eye contact with the errant gonad I realised that this guy, with his swagger and dangle, understood Cuba far better than I did.