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If You Meet a Charmer By The Name of Dionel - Run The Other Way!

By Bella

August 2013

Sipping a Crystal in the Casa de La Musica on a blustry night in Baracoa I could not help but notice the tall charmer in the corner eyeing me. By the time the band had launched into the second Los Van Van rendition he was at my side guiding me to the dance floor.

Dionel can dance, but ladies be warned, he is the biggest rogue in Baracoa and Casa de La Musica is his stomping ground. He is very cunning and will take his time, get to know you, try to charm his way into your casa particular, your life, want to know your favourite music, books poets and will quote them back to you. Cuban hustlers are super good at the scam, even more dangerous because they are educated con men who know how to read you, study you, know how to work you.

I did some investigation, asked around, was he a known hustler. The town gossip who ran a popular casa informed me that he was known to 'fraternise' with tourists, border level Jinitero, be careful she warned me. He had a wife and child, but could be separated. When quizzed on this he denied it, then admitted to being a dad, but was not living with the mother. 'It was an adventure many years ago' he said dismissing the relationship.

We would spend nights on the terrace admiring the stars and ocean in the distance. He would always leave at 11pm and was aware that we were constantly under the vigilant watch of the stern casa owner who would find every possible excuse to pop up on the terrace ever ten minutes.

Dionel knew of a 'great casa' .Alarm bells rang, was he a hustler on a commission. He begged me to go and see it with him, we could stay together there he knew the owner. I told him I was very happy where I was, I had settled in, loved the views from the terrace.

The casa he showed me was dark and stank of stale cigarette smoke, the owner his friend was very pushy bombarding me with quesitons, was I single, did I have plans to invite Dionel to Holland, what did I think of her casa. Her face fell when I informed her I did not like her home, it was small, her young son was doing his homework right next to the room I was meant to sleep in, I would literally have to squeeze past his desk. The place stank of cigarette smoke. She looked at me with pure hatred. I mad a hasty exit. Dionel muttered some words to her and followed me angrily accosting me as to why i had been 'so rude' to his fried. Look I know you're on a commission but my comfort while I am in Baracoa is more important to me than you receiving a commission or the fact you could spend the night. The place is a dump I told him. he was very cool ahat evening barely muttering a word.

Next day he invited me to meet his grandfather. No sign of the grandpa when we arrived at what seems to be a house under construction, the walls were concrete unpainted, no bathroom, very primitive. Could this be another little scam. We could stay here when you next visit, you and me in our own place, I would need to put in bathroom, paint the walls he suggested.

Suddenly I could not wait to leave, I walked back to my casa with his in hot pursuit, I avoided him taking another route, only to find him walking towards me as I approached the casa all apologies, inviting me to a cafe where he could tell me how much he loved and valued me.

He was all sweetness that evening, my last night in Baracoa, we sat and watched the waves crash to the shore and sipped some rum. He said he would write and could not wait for me to return, he would miss me, and would see me off at the airport next day. Did I have some clothing I could leave him so he could buy a mobile phone to call me as internet was so bad and so inaccessible in Baracoa. Perhaps it was the effect of the rum, the moonlight, his sweet talk but when I returned to the casa I threw him most of the contents of my suitcase, including my sneakers. Ti Amo mi amor see you tomorow at the airport he said as he blew a kiss holding the large bundle of clothes.

He showed up at 9am to tell me he was about to take the clothing to a market and would see me at 2pm at the airport. My plane landed on the tarmac at 2.30pm. No sign of Dionel.

A month later I received an email from him telling me he missed me and sorry for not calling but the mobile phone was faulty, he thought of me every day.

'F.....k Off' was my reply to Dionel the biggest rogue in Baracoa.

















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