but turned out to be like the Cuban version of Will Smith and Margot Robbie in con-artist movie Focus.
It seemed innocent to begin with. A young couple that looked about the same age as my partner and I struck up a conversation with us on the street. They must have known Australians feel downright rude refusing an invitation to go for a drink, because the next minute they were leading the way to a bar where they said they would tell us about some local’s places where we could see live music that night.
We said we’d shout them a drink in exchange for the insider knowledge.
When we got to the bar the guy — let’s call him Will Smith — suggested we order a round of mojitos. Ever the budget-conscious traveller, I asked how much they cost. ‘It’s very cheap here, don’t worry,’ Will insisted as Margot nodded. My request to the waiter for a menu went unanswered.
When the bill came, each cocktail had been charged at $5 CUC (the Cuban Convertible Peso) which is worth around the same as the US dollar. It was outrageously expensive for a dive bar in a rundown part of town — even the bars in the top hotels don’t charge much more than that.
A $20 CUC drinks bill (around AUD $28) wasn’t a trip-ruining amount of money. But as Will and the waiter stole glances at each other as I put the money on the table, I had the feeling I’d been played.
And as it turned out, the ‘secret bars’ Will and Margot recommended turned out to be the biggest tourist traps in Havana.