Mexico Travel Adventures Continued

Gail Howard's Travel Adventures in Mexico in 1957

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Shortly after Mardi Gras 1958, I left for Miami, Florida.

In Miami, I discovered that it was only an hour flight to Havana, Cuba. So, off I went. 

In the streets of Havana, I bought an immense supply of tropical fruit—mamomcillos, mamay, guanabana, chirimoya, zapote, granadas, and a variety of bananas that I had eaten only in Acapulco. I checked into a hotel and ate exotic fruit to my heart’s content. But living in Havana was not cheap. The peso and the dollar were set at even exchange.

As I walked around town, I was assailed on all sides by money-hungry taxi drivers. I stopped in the Pigalle and asked when the floorshow started. The owner of the club invited me for a drink. He was about 30 and sang Flamenco. He took me to another place, the Las Vegas Club, where I had a delicious banana daiquiri. But it was too early for the show, and he had to get back to his club, so he dropped me off at the Riviera Hotel.

I bought myself a drink and watched the Roberto Iglesias Flamenco show. After the show, I wandered into the Casino, bought a dollar’s worth of nickels, and went to work on a one-armed bandit. I kept getting little payoffs, so I put my original dollar investment back into my purse and played with the profits. But when I played the last profit nickel in the machine, the gambling vice took its hold on me and I delved into my purse for the original dollar’s worth of nickels. One by one I fed them to the ungrateful monster.

Feeling that I deserved some punishment for giving in to the gambling urge, I made myself walk all the way back to my hotel. As I was leaving the Riviera, I asked a tour guide the way and distance to my hotel. He gave me his card and told me he would take me anywhere I want to go the next day for free. We said goodbye, and I strolled down the Malecon along the waterfront for a few miles in the beautiful, balmy tropical night. I felt good all the way through me, a tingling sort of being peacefully happy. I felt like dancing instead of walking, but I restrained myself.

A car with one fellow and two girls stopped to talk to me. They wanted me to get in with them and told me I was in all sorts of danger if I didn’t: 1) from men in general, 2) from Revolutionists who might take a potshot at me, and 3) from the police who would pick me up.

Well, 1) men had already stopped their cars, so they weren’t telling me anything new. But I was walking against the traffic and felt perfectly safe from men 2) The Revolutionists were having their fun 500 miles from Havana—just a lot of bad publicity for Havana, I was told.  3) The police had already stopped and questioned me. But in Havana the police were poets at heart. They understood walking on a beautiful, tropical night, and only warned me to be careful.

I was more afraid to get into the car with that trio than of hoofing it on my own. I didn’t trust their over-concern for my welfare.

Next morning, with my new tourist-guide friend, I took in a grand tour of Morro Castle, a cigar factory, a rum factory, shopping, and the famous restaurant called Sloppy Joe’s, where I had a sandwich of homemade bread stuffed with meat and cheese. What a feast! Later I had a 3¢ tiny tiny cup of strong, sweet black coffee.

After the grand tour, my guide dropped me off at the airport, for my flight back to Miami.

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The END!

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