Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Hooking and Similar Trades

Cuba: Hooking and Similar Trades
March 24, 2014

HAVANA TIMES — No one calls them jineteras, not even prostitutes. To
their customers and those who disapprove of them, to all of us who know
what they do for a living (even police officers), those ragged women one
sees soliciting at the side of the road are quite simply chupachupas
("lollypops"). This is what people call them in Cuba to differentiate
them from jineteras, considered a superior species by some.

High heels, tight-fitting clothes, brand or imitation clothing and
perfumes – jineteras find their customers in places frequented by
tourists and people with money. The city's downtown area and major
avenues are their preferred areas of operation.

The way they dress, the supposed glamour of some and the extravagance of
most are imitated even by girls under fifteen who are in no way linked
to the trade. They are simply young, impressionable girls who imitate
the appearance of these women whom sex has given a certain financial
status, well above that enjoyed by a doctor or an engineer in Cuba. When
some girls are asked what they dream of becoming when they grow up, it
is not uncommon to hear them say they dream of marrying a foreigner.

For some – perhaps those who define them on the basis of the social
standing of their customers – jineteras are not strictly speaking
prostitutes. Prostitutes are lower-ranking solicitors who don't dress
well (they don't have to), charge in Cuban pesos and sleep with people
in hovels. Sometimes, they will have a quickie with someone they know
doesn't have any money for a bit of cheap rum or a pack of cigarettes.

When one travels down Cuba's National Highway or Ocho Vias road
(especially in the early morning and afternoon), one can see the
chupachupas at the side of the road. There's more of them every day, but
no one seems to notice them. No one talks about them and no one seems to
care about how it is they live.

In the tickets at both sides of the road, sometimes alone, sometimes in
groups (for protection and mutual support), one sees women that everyone
can tell apart from hitchhikers, that is to say, people who are simply
"sticking out their thumbs", as we call the practice of stopping a car
and asking the driver to give one a lift at a stretch of road where
buses are few and far between.

No one who isn't after what the chupachupas offer stops to pick up these
women. People look at them and spit. Drivers yell rude things at them
and they reply with obscene gestures. They dress poorly, smell worse and
their bodies, no longer so young, show the signs of a horrifying life.
Some say all are from far-away towns in Cuba's east, or that they are
former inmates, undesirables who live and sleep where they can.

Their more regular customers are truckers who drive cargos from one end
of the island to the other or workers who spend long periods of time
away from home, in the camp sites set up at the side of the road.

Chupachupas ask for very little, sometimes only to sleep in a
construction site or the uncomfortable bunk bed of a distant shelter,
where they share their lean and dirty bodies with dozens of lonely men
made unscrupulous by a lack of sex and a life of profanity.

In the city center, jineteras can be seen getting off and on luxury
rental cars. They ride around under the watchful gaze of those who
celebrate their successes, emblazoned on their expensive clothes and the
bills with which they buy their virtue. They enjoy the hotels and
commercial centers few of us can frequent. They cover their bodies with
perfume and disguise the marks of a night of excess with Maybelline or
Helena Rubinstein makeup. That is the daily routine of their
bodies-for-sale. They often dream of moving to Miami, Paris or Madrid.

In the meantime, on the outskirts of Havana, the inferior species hop
onto and off trucks. They walk under the scorching sun, make desperate
gestures at passing cars, stroll off into the thickets and wash their
bodies with the water in the bottles they keep in their daypacks.

That is what the trade involves for them. They also endure beatings, all
kinds of abuse, constant forlornness, hunger, blood and dust, all mixed
up over their skins – until, one night, death finds them at a derelict,
far-off place. For them there are no dreams, only a highway that cuts
across the country, as deadly as a sword, where the only luck they know
is the occasional stop someone makes.

Source: Cuba: Hooking and Similar Trades - Havana Times.org -

No comments:

Post a Comment