My entire life I was told I would never see Cuba; never step foot on the land where for generations, my family called home.
Growing up, I heard stories of my family’s summers in Rio Frio.
I heard my grandmother tell stories of her involvement with the Church
how she had such a compassionate heart for the homeless.
But yet, I was set on it—set on the fact that I would never smell, see, hear, taste or touch Cuba.
But what I thought was impossible, quickly turned possible.
When the doors to Cuba opened a little wider, I knew this was our chance.
My opportunity to finally see the place that in a way has shaped me.
My urgency to go to Cuba sooner than later was simply because there was no one else in the world I would rather go with than my mother and father.
I had quite a few dreams about Cuba. Dreams of what my life could have been in Cuba..
and I said to my dad, “Papi, we have to go!”
So the plans began, and I couldn’t believe it…
I still can’t believe.
But the time finally had come.
I would make my way to the place my family called home for decades—a place so close in proximity, but yet so far.
Cuba is who we are.
It is where memories were made, love stories bloomed and my family was born.
I wanted to know anything and everything about it. I wanted to meet the people. I wanted to learn about their struggles and their desires.
I wanted to see the streets my father and mother played on. I wanted to imagine my father as a child running through the dirt roads, as he led the pack of his younger brothers and sisters. I wanted to watch him re-live his childhood.
But I knew with all of that, we would find sorrow.
Because that past life, is just that—a past life.
A life that is now so disconnected
because not only have the years passed by, but there is a deep deterioration in the country…in the people.
But even with turmoil, the people see a brighter day.
And they hope
[because at the end of the day, that is all any of us really have.]