Captain One-Eye’s problem with prostitutes
“We don’t sign contracts of any of that nonsense. Here, you give your word and shake hands. If you keep your side of the deal, no problem. If you don’t? Problem.” Saying this, the salty Colombian sailor made a shooting gesture with his hand, squinting the eye that wasn’t covered by an eye patch as he took casual aim.
Our passports weren’t ready, nothing to do but come back later, but the Cartagena heat was enough to melt the most ardent of itineraries, and what could be a better use of time than lolling around a crumbling yacht harbor, listening to an eye-patched old sailor anyway?
He was explaining that Colombia is a culture of honesty. “If we make a deal, and I cheat you? Que me jodes! If you cheat me…?” A shrug of the shoulders. Clearly there would be no other option than reliable-calliber justive if you cheat Captain One-Eye.
He went on to explain that this was the problem with Obama and the prostitutes.
“Obama and the whatnow?” I asked, having been completely out of touch for 5-to-50 days.
The scandal of Secret Service member contracting prostitutes in Cartagena had broken a week before my arrival in the city. In the US everyone was (pretending to be) shocked that Secret Service agents, single young testosteroney men pursuing a cinematastic career that is remakrably boring despite the constant possibility of death and/or clory, who suddenly find themselves in a place like Cartagena, would go dancing and come back with hookers. How astonishing!
In Colombia, on the other hand, no one cared a whit that they had gotten hookers. That was uninteresting. The scandal in Cartagena was that they hadn’t paid up as agreed.
The story was that the agents had misunderstood the price, so when the time came to pay up, some of the agents reneged on their agreement. This was unacceptable to el Capitan. “You get a woman, you pay the woman. If you don’t understand what you agreed to? That is your problem, you agreed.”
He sat back in his seat, disappointed at the failure in etiquette. I felt embarrassed for my countrymen, and apologetic. “I’m sorry Captain One-Eye, sir. I’m sure next time they’ll be paradigms of moral virtue, and pay for their prostitutes like good, respectable men should.”
Did I mention you encounter other perspectives when you travel?
Interesting difference in cultures. With the concern over money I can’t help wondering how much of that money the prostitutes saw? Not that I would expect you to know this. But I’m wondering if how much control the prostitutes have in this culture, if you happen to have any idea.
I don’t know for Colombia, where people weren’t talking about it, but in Thailand the “customer” pays a fee to the bar where the girls work, then they negotiate the rest of the fee themselves, all of which she gets to keep.
How do you think that stacks up against the dominant wage-divorced-from-business structure of western capitalism?
Second rule of the game, no money, no honey. Get the cash before you untie your sash. I am surprised they actually allowed the agents, or any johns, to pay at the end. Interesting perspectives ans cultural assumptions indeed. Thanks for sharing this one.
Maybe it was a group rate? Or they trusted the badge. Classic mistake.
Never, absolutely NEVER, trust the badge !
There are hordes of people learning that lesson in lots of different ways, all around the world. I’ve dealt with a couple of good cops in the States though, those guys should get their own TV show.