This area was something like a huge neighborhood. The businesses were clustered next to each other, that is, there was no space between them. These enterprises consisted of bars, cantinas, nightclubs, taco stands, food vendors, pharmacies, a police station. It also had a health clinic where the sex workers had to do a weekly checkup. There was an average of 2,000 – 3,000 sex workers between the ages of 12 and 60 years. However, the underage girls were not in sight; if not, they were in a room for special clientele. The blocks were 100 square meters and each one had a gate. Each block was surrounded by plenty of businesses, and in the center, families resided. Among those families were children of those women who worked in that trade. This Red Zone also had a primary school. So, during the day, the children went to school and the neighborhood became like a dead village; all businesses were closed. Nevertheless, when 9:00 p.m. came, the night became alive, for businesses began to open approximately around that time and closed at 3:00 in the morning.
Now, there were three nightclubs that were of first class which had their own private parking lots, high security system and someone in charge of placing and receiving clients. In addition, they had a special striptease show for the clientele. These nightclubs were separate from the others, meaning, they had their own block. Anyway. Carlos, the waiter, who had invited Miguel to this location, approached one of the first-class nightclubs called Rio Rita. Like any other nightclub, minors were not allowed; however, Carlos gave the person in charge a good tip to allow Miguel to enter, along with a recommendation that they take a table in the fourth row instead of the first, just in case an inspector arrived. That way, Miguel would go unnoticed.
Once inside, they asked for their beer. Miguel didn’t ask for one, because he remembered an experience he had when he had consumed a small beer and it got him drunk. So, in order to avoid a replay of that horrible episode, he ordered a lemonade. Shortly after entering, and when they were already seated, the night function began. A sophisticated woman, with an exquisite body and long, dark hair, began dancing to the rhythm of the drums. It was the most erotic dance. As she moved her hips, she removed articles of her clothing, piece by tantalizing piece, until she was completely naked. Miguel was stone cold, jaw half opened. He gazed at the magnificent woman in front of him. This was the first time he had ever witnessed a striptease. Miguel was stunned, yet slightly aroused. At the end of the show, Carlos called one of the sex workers and told her, “Look, treat this young man good, for he is still a virgin.”
“Don’t worry. I will treat him very well,” she replied, and took Miguel gently by the hand, guiding him to a room. After her services, as they held hands, she returned Miguel to his chair at the table, where the others were waiting. Obviously, Carlos had paid the woman in a very discreet manner. According to them, they had already baptized Miguel, not knowing that he had already been baptized many years ago. That was the beginning of a new life which Miguel was going to live, among so many women, so much so that he became friends with them. He grew older, learning the methods and experiences that the women taught him, which was a lot, and every day he went there. Even when he lost his job at La Milpa, like an addict he kept returning to the Red Zone. Later on, he got another job at a restaurant on an avenue called Miguel Aleman which specialized in Yucatecan food; it was called Antojitos Mayab. He worked there for a long period of time. He started as a janitor and later became a waiter. However, he continuously spent his nights at the Red Zone after work. It had become his second home.
Apart from that, Miguel had rented a room in a different neighborhood, at a vecindad (small apartments as living quarters). These vecindades consisted of sometimes 6, 10, to 15 small apartments. Each apartment had two rooms with a private bathroom, one of which was used as the bedroom and the other which had a small kitchen, dining area, and if space allowed it, maybe a little hall. So, Miguel no longer lived with his grandmother; he decided to live on his own. He decided to spread his wings and fly. He was like a caged animal, tame in a cage, but wild when it’s loose. He was like a horse that was released for the first time from its stable. He lived like he never did before, did as he pleased. There were no rules, no one to tell him, “well, do this or do that”. He lived big. His life was now among the women of a night life.
With the passing of time, and the friendships he had made with those women, he had the opportunity of experiencing the crying, the tears of many and the reason why they fell into that life. He was a person who knew when to listen and also learnt to pretend and to lie. He learnt to detect a person who said the truth and who lied, so much so that he came to distrust everyone. Life in that environment is quite difficult and dangerous, but Miguel learnt many things he wouldn’t have known if he had stayed at home with his grandmother or at his parents who had passed away. Miguel became a man, nevertheless, a man of prostitution. There came a time when women would pay to have intimacy with him. So, apart from Miguel earning money at the restaurant from the plenty of tips, he also gained money in the Red Zone, where sex workers who wanted a night of passion with him, paid him to do so. He kept all that money. He didn’t spend on anything except his food and a few clothes. He knew how to save money, and he did it.
(To Be Continued)
March 12, 2023