Quick Love, Brief Shelter


“To the warm shelter of 214…” began a song by Silvio Rodriguez which — in my adolescent naivete — I listened to as if it were a riddle. So it was until a friend, who’d lived a little more than I had, unblushingly clarified the phrase. It was simply the address of a well-known Havana motel, where couples could find a place for quick love in a country already gripped by housing limitations. Waiting outside those places were women who covered their faces with scarves and sunglasses, while the men paid the desk clerk and got the key to the room. An insistent knock on the door would warn them that their time was over and others were waiting to enter.

Havana’s inns, scenes of so many infidelities, sudden passions, and even innumerable passions that led to formal matrimony with several children. These places, once flourishing, faced a long period of stigma and then a precipitous decline. They passed from sites of ardor to become cramped housing for victims of building collapses. Put like that, it sounds fair: substituting necessity for pleasure, the rapture of the flesh for the pressing needs of a family. One after the other, the city’s motels were closed to the public and their small rooms were taken up by people who lost their homes to the winds of a hurricane or the ravages of a fire. Informal love began to move to the bushes, dark corners, or, quietly, to the same room where Grandma was sleeping. Those with hard currency could, in turn, seek out private homes that rented rooms for 5 convertible pesos for several hours.

Now, passing through Fraternity Park late at night, it’s not uncommon to hear to a groan in the shadows, the muffled sound of clothes rubbing against each other. The majority of people my age and younger have never had their own roof under which to caress their partner, or a private bed where they can lie wrapped in each other’s arms. People who haven’t known what it is to live in a city where there are motels with neon signs and tiny rooms where you can make love for at least an hour. Nor do they understand the song — outdated now — of that singer-songwriter, and names such as Hotel Venus, 11th and 24th, The Countryside, or Ayestaran Cottages do not awaken any pleasant memories.

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59 thoughts on “Quick Love, Brief Shelter

  1. @#54
    Ur comment betrays ur ignorance, keep this in mind: what u say here is read by a far larger number of people that the ones that participate, by making a fool of uself u manage to loose any credibility (if u had any to start with).
    As far as reading “I have read almost all of che’s biographies” to support ur claim? Note: one of the things to be considered in doing research is the sources of information, have u done that? another of the to consider research is the verification of autenticity of all existing documentation & records, have u done that? I guess not, ur statements pov it so … go & learn to do research, look for documents, for photos, speeches, police records etc.
    If u take Korda’s picture as a supporting fact … I have “this time only, supplies are limited” che’s bronzed soretes for sale 4 $9.98 + s&h cucs accepted& if u by now I’ll include one copy of the many biographies about him hurry, supplies are limited :-)

  2. #56
    How can you rely on American sources for information regarding Che Guevara?? They did everything they coould to catch him and get rid of him all through the Cuban revolution. He mocked the U.S. and made them the laughing stock of the whole world. How do you expect them to write anything good on the man who managed to overthrow the comfortable reign they had with Batista as president and associate of American interests in Cuba.
    All the statements in his biographies, whether the one by John Anderson or any other are based on facts. Either coming from his wife, Fidel Castro himself, or survivors of the revolution still alive today. Can any information coming from US sources be more explicit than the ones who fought by his side??
    And for your information, I am not anti-American. They live by their standards I live by mine.

  3. “I don`t know where yo do your research Albert. I have read almost all of “Che`s” biographies and nowhere did I read any of this rubbish. You probably been reading American propaganda against Che Guevara.”

    Many kids in the U.S. idolize Ernesto Guevara via the iconic Korda image on t-shirts, which appear ubiquitously all over the nation. Further, a recently made film that documented eyewitness accounts of el Che’s atrocities never made it to U.S. screens. That should tell you something. The U.S. doesn’t care about el Che anymore. The evidence is everywhere, as in this YouTube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFsGeM-q5HI

    You could very well have been one of the bright-eyed Che supporters in it.

    I understand where your anti-American sentiment comes from, but if you want the full scope about Ernesto el Che Guevara, you need to use the U.S. to your advantage as a source of information. The geography between Cuba and the United States alone is indicative to where the majority of survivors emigrated. There you will find firsthand accounts of el Che from people who are able to speak freely and away from the propaganda machines of Cuba.

  4. Cuba libre, you’ve only read Fidel’s version of Che. Almost everything written about Che came, directly or indirectly, from the mouth of Fidel. Including writing by the likes of Jon Lee Anderson, since nobody interviewed in Cuba could speak freely about Che. Maybe you should try reading other versions of his life? They might not be true, but at least they might open your mind a little bit. Is an open mind a bad thing?

  5. #52
    I don`t know where yo do your research Albert. I have read almost all of “Che`s” biographies and nowhere did I read any of this rubbish. You probably been reading American propaganda against Che Guevara. They can only bad mouth him cause they were never able to catch him cause he was so clever. It was by chance that he was captured by Bolivians, and the CIA made sure he was killed before he could escape or be rescued.
    All I can say Albert is that contrary to youm ” El Che ose e gagna”.

  6. @#49
    do u know who che was? what he did to Cubans? why he died?
    che was a failure:
    never graduated as a doctor of medicine, there are no existing records of it (do ur research).
    traveled thru the americas mutching of others abusing & betraying the hospitality offered by the natives w/lies (do ur research)
    Lived off women, a misoginist lazy con artist (do ur research)
    Was kicked out of the USA for being a vagabound (do ur research)
    Returns to Mexico hooks up w/fidel, takes militrari training & goes to Cuba (do ur research)
    In one of the first skirmishes gets slightly wounded in the neck & cries “I am dying! … help!” it is a Cuban that said “aqui no se rinde nadie” & looking at che said “dejenlo si se esta muriendo” (do ur rearch)
    His choice or doctor or combatant was made over the consideration of the weight between a medical kit or food supplies (do ur research)
    Never truly fought in the front lines, always sent others to die before him (do ur research)
    Executed people without do process even in the field of battle (do ur research)
    The mayor battel he claims to have won was paid for not fought for (do ur research)
    As ocupant of La cabana he had amny Cubns executed (if their hands were tied) without do process (do ur research)
    Took charge od the economy of Cuba & bankrupted her (do ur research)
    As a diplomat contradicted fidel & at the end paid for it (do ur research)
    All of his campaigns down to the last ended in failures & great loos of lie for his “companeros” eventually it cost him his life (do ur research)
    In Bolivia he was executed, no murdered, the order to execute him came from the legitimally democratically elected president of Bolivia, not from Felix “the cat” bosses, they wanted to take che to Panama (do ur research)
    Take note of the fact that in ALL his failures, the commun denominator is his placing the blame for it in his cadres or the natives or the USA or the circumstances … never his. Perhaps in ur research (if u are serious about it)u may realize his lack of tactical command, his false courage & his unnatural sense of importance (do ur research). I have given u a lot for home work. After all tha research I want u to come back & talk about che based on what u have learned from ur research, not from what u think u know or what u parrot from other who think they know or form the messiah u think cares about u when only wants to use u.

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