2002, a barmy night in Havana and I'd just finished up an over-priced Mojito in Hotel Nacional. I looked out over the harbour below and breathed it all in - this was Cuba. I headed down to the Malecon sea wall and with a milk bottle full of rum in my hand and got to know the locals.
One particular lady I got on with well with and, before I knew it, we were talking about going back to her place. My Spanish has only ever been so good, but I remembered her saying the following: 'If you stay around mine tonight, can you leave some money on the table in the morning'. I was 19 and wasn't about to start paying for a ho. I decided to ignore her comment and we went to a club and the rum-drinking continued. But still she insisted that coming back to hers was a good idea / that my dollars would look great on her bedside table. I said I needed to cool-out outside - the club was hot and I sensed an escape plan was the only way to go.
Stumbling out of the club drunk I suddenly fell and dropped somehow underwater. I was hugely drunk so this was all very confusing. I emerged from the water to realise I'd fallen in an one of Havana's larger open sewers to the amusement of the whole club. I hadn't paid for sex that night but I'd escaped her and her friends her were now looking rough. I washed myself off and then proceeded with my rum-binge fascination to the encouragement of the locals.
From that night I learnt a valuable lesson, self-respect is never stronger when you know the path you're walking.