Sunday, January 27, 2008

Cuba a Bittersweet Tale - Part III

I've been slow about updating this story, but it's important to me to finish as it's been swirling in my mind and heart for a long time.

After a few days with family in Miami we finally board a
plane directly from Miami to Cuba, we're taking a mere 45 minute ride across a tempestous ocean. As we fly over the ocean I'm secretly looking out the windows to see if I there are any floating 1950 style Chevy rafts with Cuban's fleeing the island. This is silly but wouldn't you?

My Dad is so nervous he's making me nervous. As soon as we see Habana he starts to cry and then I start to cry. It's one of those emotional moments that can't be helped. It's been nearly 40 years since my dad saw this place. And this airport is literally the last scene he saw of his life in Cuba.

As we get off the plane I try to run a little ahead. I want to capture every bit of my Father's journey and well he can't stop crying, which in turn is making me cry. I'm saying this because I had a manual camera with me so trying to take pictures quickly to capture the moment sometimes come out a bit blurry.

While in Miami the relatives have imbedded in our minds all kinds of horrors that come when you get your baggage and try to get it through customs. Miraculously this is quite pain free. Dad translates everything and we pay a small tax to enter with these HUMONGOUS bags filled with all sorts of things that our friends and relatives in the States would think necessary for my grandfather and uncle.

Now as we walk out of the airport there is this huge crowd of people screaming and calling out all kinds of names. This is mayhem to me and I've travelled quite a bit. Out of this crowd comes this African Cuban man named Luis who calls my dad's name...."Nico" this is the nickname that only our Cuban relatives use for him. How my Dad recognize this man he hasn't seen in 40 years is a wonder. He pulls Dad and I out of the crowd with these huge bags and we head to the car. I was so hoping this would be a 1950's sky blue Chevy. But it ended up being this old white Russian fiat looking car. I'm so not a car person, that is my best description. As we're walking to the car Luis tells us that my grandfather, my Dads father, is in the car. Here comes the water faucet again. Seriously having no control over our emotions I just start balling. I've never seen this man in my life and my Dad has not seen or talked to him in years. I immediately start snapping pictures as my Dad greets his father. The only words coming out my father's mouth at the moment is profanity...why i have no idea....he just keeps saying "Oh, sh*t, oh sh*t" he's just not in control of his emotions. I finally get my hug in and greet my grandfather. It's such an odd thing to feel close to someone you've never met, but I immediately do. This is such a surreal moment and riding in the car looking at the country and soaking it all in. This is in indescribable feeling. Did I tell you HOT and HUMID it is. Wow Miami was bad and Habana is just as HOT. The countryside is lush green with palm trees scattered about, there is slight mix of jasmine in the air infused with the diesel smell of the old cars driving along this very rural road.We finally get to my grandfathers street. This is a dirt road filled with pot holes, but the architecture is amazing. More of that to come. My father has a younger brother who he also hasn't seen in 40 years. His brother has down syndrome and is one of the sweetest persons I met while in Cuba. Dad was equally emotional on seeing his little brother who is about 53 years old at this point. This first emotional day is overwhelming.


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