The phrase ‘always use a condom’ was instilled in our brains since were teenagers. Well, nothing beats practicing safe sex, but apart from the bedroom, the Cubans have found many more ways to use the latex, and most of them stretch way beyond the bedroom. They include fastening a ponytail, fishing, and fermenting wine among many other uses.
The country’s focus on sexual health, as well as government subsidies on condoms, has ensured that they are not only cheap but also readily available. One pack of three condoms costs only a single Cuban peso, which is around 4 dollar cents. Focusing on sexual health has certainly paid dividends, with Cuba being ranked lowest regarding HIV rate in the hemisphere.
With other house goods in short supply, the Cubans have given a new meaning to necessity is the mother of invention. The country has been hit with scarcities of just about anything mainly due to the five decades of U.S. trade sanctions and a poorly run economy. But the mainly Chinese-made rubbers can be afforded by just about anyone, paving the way for them to be used for purposes that have little to do with birth control. Now, let’s take a look;
Hairdressers have found innovative ways of using the stretchy and strong rubbers to style hair. “We can’t allow clients to leave upset that we couldn’t do something because we lacked the tools so instead we look for alternatives,” says Sandra Hernandez, a Havana based hairdresser who uses condoms as hair bands.
Other cosmetic uses include using them as balloons for children’s birthday parties, makeshift flasks to sneak rum into nightclubs and as polishing agents for car dashboards. Trust Cubans to be this innovative.
“It’s amazing how strong they are,” says Michel Perez, a young fisherman based in Havana. Apparently, condoms can be fashioned into fishing lines by tying inflated condoms into a large hexahedral shape and then tying a baited hook to the core of the inflated condoms, sort of like a kite and then letting it out to sea. Immediately it hits the sea surface; the current begins pulling the rubber apparatus out to sea. With a good breeze, the floating condoms can carry the fish hook hundreds of meters into the deep sea, far beyond casting distance.
“We use them a lot this time of year, during the snapper run,” Perez explained. “When the fish takes the hook, the line pulls free, and you start reeling in.”
It is tough living on an island but still being unable to own a boat. Condoms take Cuban fishermen closer to the all-important fish in a way they wouldn’t otherwise be able to because Cubans are prohibited from straying too far into the sea for fear of illegal emigration to the US. A red snapper weighing 6-10 pounds can fetch $10 to $20 in the Havana black market. In a country where the monthly average wage is below $20, it’s little wonder that condom purchase is highest during peak fishing times.
On an even more ingenious level, Cubans have found ways of using condoms to ferment wine by stretching them over wine bottles. If a condom is erect, it means fermentation is taking place because it will fill the condom with carbon dioxide. A deflated condom means the fermentation process is complete.
“It really increases the alcohol percentage and improves the process of fermentation, as well as that of clarification,” says Orestes Estevez who makes his wine from home, selling them from his garage.
The government’s promotion of safe sex and condom usage means condoms will always be in abundant supply, but the Cubans have outdone themselves in finding other uses that are far from epidemiological.
Cuban men with a shoestring budget have found yet another use for the latex: filling them with rum, like wineskins, and sneaking them past bouncers at leading clubs while hiding them in their underwear!
“If you only have $7 and the club has a $5 entry fee, you don’t have any money left over for drinks,” says Felo, 24, a Havana resident. “So you pay the $5, and once you’re inside, you buy a can of cola for $1. You drink half, then go to the bathroom, open the condom, and pour the rum into the can.”
How about that for maximizing the available resources? As long as the condom doesn’t break, the arrangement works alright. Other people use condoms to keep their money dry when they go swimming in the sea. It is all a matter of necessity, with some even admitting they’d rather use the condoms for other uses than in the bedroom.
“We’re Cuban, so we have to come up with things that nobody’s ever thought of,” says Jose Luis Dia, a Havana fisherman.
It is incredible to see how resourceful and reliable condoms are. Some have argued that condoms are too binding and restrictive and unsuitable to handle bigger cocks, but Cubans are throwing every condom myth out of the damn window. They are a perfect example that you can not only maximize on the little you have, but you can be pretty successful while at it too!