I have been absent from my blog for many months.

On the first day of 2015 I offered a silent prayer: “Lord, I want to experience joy.”

The prayer was not born of sadness.  Despite challenges I am not given to long periods of depression, and I am pretty good at achieving a healthy level of satisfaction.  But joy? What was JOY?  What would it be like to really know it?  So of course, contemplating its attainment had led me to the source.  “Lord, show me joy”, I innocently prayed. I meant that prayer with all of my heart.  And because of that pure intention, the Lord heard and responded.  I was sure, as my prayer began to be answered in unexpected ways during the grueling months that followed, that the Lord, the universe, had misunderstood.

My husband and I had been asked by a childhood friend to move next door to her.  She was well off and knew that we had some financial challenges due to my heart health.Or lack thereof.  I was excited to have a “sister” next door.  Except she was only a sister in my imagination. Instead I found myself caught in an almost horror movie scenario, as I realized my other friends who knew her had been right.  She was not well.  What she wanted was not me.  It was the life I had built and the exclusive love of my children. And once obtained at least in her mind, she had no further use for me.  So in February of the year I prayed for joy I started sending out resumes at age 68.  Miraculously by April we had moved to Southern Oregon and I was working,

Joy seemed a little further away as I mourned the loss of a friendship that had never been, mourned my separation from my children and grandchildren who were now five hours away instead of a few minutes away.  Yet there was also the tremendous satisfaction of working in a field I have always loved, of helping patients in a workplace full of angels in a town graced by the presence of wonderful friends.

And life went on, now four, then five, then six months after my prayer….then….a heart attack.  I thought it was GERD.  I walked around for days, really walked around as I was the Social Worker in charge of three non contiguous departments in a large hospital.  And when the pain just got out of hand, I made an appointment with my doctor to get something stronger than TUMS for my GERD.  Minutes after arriving at my doctor’s office I was in the ambulance headed for the hospital where I worked where I learned that I had four blocked arteries.  They were practically totally blocked.  Stents were tried and failed.  The words I had dreaded, OPEN HEART SURGERY, were uttered.  And eight months after my prayer I figured joy just wasn’t going to happen in 2015.  As if to emphasize the reality of that thought, I lost my job because I had not earned enough time for family leave, and I lost my insurance.  And then….

Throngs of angels came to the rescue disguised as friends.  Sharon Mehdi and Nancy Bardos who live near us did healing touch before the surgery.  Through them and with them I reached out to my Chartres family who immediately surrounded me in prayer with such power and love it was palpable every day.  My beloved friends Haydecita and Patricia prayed.  My Facebook friends prayed.  In September I received the news that the boy I loved with all my heart as a young adolescent had been able to leave Cuba and was in Miami.  We reconnected Benny Avila and I, now both of us married, but still friends.  And just as once he had combed the city of Havana to find scarce products to take to my mother so she could send them to my father at the Isle of Pines prison, he now called me every day to see how I was doing and to make me laugh as we reminisced about the past and contemplated the ironies of the present.

In November I signed up for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and finished my memoir.

In December I had my surgery.  My precious Tocaya, Yolanda Cardenes Ganong made her third trip to be by my side on December 22. She missed Christmas with her family and an important anniversary.  But she helped me and she helped Ken, with the patience of Job.

When I was wheeled to Cardiac Intensive Care after surgery, Sharon and Nancy were there doing healing touch with full permission of my surgeon.  I was out of the hospital in record time.  And all of the time I could palpably feel myself held in prayer by friends all over the world.  Shortly after I came home, my friend Marguerite Quantaine sent me the original score of The Unsinkable Molly Brown.  She dared me to be that.  Unsinkable.

I did not feel unsinkable.  But I sure felt extremely grateful.  Grateful to have survived a quintuple heart bypass.  Grateful that I had friends that loved me so unconditionally.  Grateful for the man I married almost thirty years ago who stood by my side every second of every day no matter how difficult.  Grateful for every breath.  I forgot all about joy.  Gratitude took its place.  I thanked God often, for everything.  I thanked God so much all the time it must have made Him dizzy.  I thanked Him for water, for a soft mattress, for each and every one of my friends, for my house, for the love in my life, for the rain, for the sun, for the little flowers that began to bloom early outside my window.  I thanked God for the energy that increased every day.  For my totally disappeared angina.  I thanked God for my children regardless of distance.  For the people they have become.  For my grandchildren.  For my husband.  For my heart that can love so fully.  Every breath was a thank you.  And it was there.  It was in the thank you that joy was hiding!  It was there that God had hidden it until I was ready to experience it!!

Joy dwells in gratitude.  It grows by leaps and bounds in gratitude.  And a little more than a year after my prayer, a year of betrayal, a year of work, a year of pain, a year of the greatest love, a year of trial and triumph, I finally understood.  Many things had to be purged before gratitude could open my heart to joy.

In March, fourteen months after my prayer and only three months after my surgery I went to Mount Shasta accompanied by part of my Chartres family.  Only 11 weeks after my surgery I welcomed the solstice with my soul family on the holy mountain.  I listened as my beloved friends Cantrell and Jerry played beautiful music on their guitars and looked at the faces of friends old and new and rejoiced.

And so…I have a wonderful job.  Ken has a wonderful job.  At 73 he is doing on call for the hospital and loving it.  I found the  perfect editor for my book now retitled Fragments Of My Cuban Heart, Anna Elkins.  I am so excited to be working with this amazing young woman who already knows joy.  Ken and I bought a house thanks to the VA loan he earned for the service to our country. Life is good.  Every breath is precious.  And joy is everywhere.  All things are new.

May each of you be blessed.



I came to this country as a refugee.  This poem embodies the desperation of those who leave home and go out in the world to seek refuge.  I cannot tell you how many times when sharing my experience people have said to me:  “Well, I moved to another house when I was ten and had to leave my home”, as if I had “moved” from Cuba at age fourteen.  I didn’t move.  I lost my land.  I lost my father to a prison for speaking his mind, I lost my family who chose to stay behind to care for him and catapulted me to freedom on my own at age fourteen not really knowing how it would all turn out.  I lost my friends who began leaving the country before me, and the ones that had to stay behind.  I lost connection with my world before there was an internet, when snail mail was the only way to say hello.  I lost my language.  I lost my food, the rhythm of my music, the blueness of my sky, my ocean, and even my precious first love.  I didn’t move.  I was ‘desterrada’, a Spanish word that says it best.  Desterrada.  Stripped of home and land.

As we approach the holidays, my heart goes out to the refugees around the world who like Jesus, another middle eastern refugee, cannot find room at the inn.  Homeless like Him, they wander the world and knock on the door of our homes and our hearts and find no room, meet only our fear.

My heart breaks at their plight.  I want to offer them warmth, kindness, share my home with them, because I don’t know what I would have done at a time when rental properties in Miami had signs saying:  “We don’t allow dogs or Cubans”, if loving arms in Santa Rosa, CA hadn’t opened their homes and hearts for me.  I want all of you who are closing doors to “get” that no one takes this journey for the hell of it.

Please let the voice of this Somali poet, Warsaw Shire, reach the depths of you.  Don’t be afraid.  Reach out in love and welcome.  These travelers are so weary…

no one leaves home unless
home is the mouth of a shark
you only run for the border
when you see the whole city running as well
your neighbors running faster than you
breath bloody in their throats
the boy you went to school with
who kissed you dizzy behind the old tin factory
is holding a gun bigger than his body
you only leave home
when home won’t let you stay.

no one leaves home unless home chases you
fire under feet
hot blood in your belly
it’s not something you ever thought of doing
until the blade burnt threats into
your neck
and even then you carried the anthem under
your breath
only tearing up your passport in an airport toilets
sobbing as each mouthful of paper
made it clear that you wouldn’t be going back.

you have to understand,
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land
no one burns their palms
under trains
beneath carriages
no one spends days and nights in the stomach of a truck
feeding on newspaper unless the miles travelled
means something more than journey.
no one crawls under fences
no one wants to be beaten

no one chooses refugee camps
or strip searches where your
body is left aching
or prison,
because prison is safer
than a city of fire
and one prison guard
in the night
is better than a truckload
of men who look like your father
no one could take it
no one could stomach it
no one skin would be tough enough

go home blacks
dirty immigrants
asylum seekers
sucking our country dry
niggers with their hands out
they smell strange
messed up their country and now they want
to mess ours up
how do the words
the dirty looks
roll off your backs
maybe because the blow is softer
than a limb torn off

or the words are more tender
than fourteen men between
your legs
or the insults are easier
to swallow
than rubble
than bone
than your child body
in pieces.
i want to go home,
but home is the mouth of a shark
home is the barrel of the gun
and no one would leave home
unless home chased you to the shore
unless home told you
to quicken your legs
leave your clothes behind
crawl through the desert
wade through the oceans
be hunger
forget pride
your survival is more important

no one leaves home until home is a sweaty voice in your ear
run away from me now
i dont know what i’ve become
but i know that anywhere
is safer than here


When I was a little girl I loved to watch The Lone Ranger. My grandmother who was horrified by violence of any kind, and even more so by my being exposed to it, would come in the TV room and say: “Yolie, those things aren’t really happening. They are actors, people who are pretending. They pretend they are shooting someone, they pretend to be dead. No one’s getting hurt.”

At one point in my childhood I became obsessed with bull fights. I had a good teacher, a man who lived at Finca Vigia in Cuba, a friend of my father’s, a man I called “the drunk American” because of the smell of his breath each time he held me on his lap while he and my dad visited. Hemingway loved the bullfight, and through his eyes, bullfighters became heroes to me. My grandmother was horrified. She forbid my watching bullfights on Cuban TV, and forbid my father from taking me to visit “Don Ernesto”. She explained to me the suffering of the bull, the harm that was being done to a creature of God for no reason. And eventually I was unable to watch a bullfight without my heart breaking at the plight of the poor defenseless bull.

And then the first bomb exploded underneath my bedroom window. I slept through it, but woke to find my parents standing on the side of my bed telling me not to move. My hands were covered with some sort of black powder, and there was broken glass surrounding me from the explosion of the window above me. They removed the glass piece by piece and brushed the bed thoroughly before allowing me to get up. No one had been hurt, but something had changed. I was too young to understand the word “vulnerable”, but old enough to feel it.

As time went on there were more bombs. There were bombs in movie theaters, shootouts on the street, two more bombs detonated, one on the porch and one by the gate in my grandmother’s house where I spent most of my time when my dad was imprisoned for daring to speak his mind on national TV. And my grandmother ran out of ways to protect me. Corpses became real. They didn’t get up and walk when the scene was over. Violence could happen anywhere and anytime. Terror became ordinary. So much so that when the time came that my cousins and I were old enough to go to the theater together my grandmother wasn’t concerned with what I would see on the screen or how it would affect me. Her admonition always was “make sure to check under your seat for bombs!” Just like that. Terror and violence became ordinary.

And last night in Paris, terror reigned again. People left home to enjoy an evening. Girls went to hear their favorite band play, young couples held hands and kissed on the way to a bar, fans gathered at game. The darkness of terror like we learned to expect in Cuba, like they have learned to expect in Israel and Syria and too many other places to name, descended on the City of Light and made its people feel that vulnerability and helplessness that the innocent feel in the face of inconceivable evil. Other grand mothers who tried to keep their grandchildren living in innocence, will be telling them on the way to the theater to check under their seats for bombs.

In a theater, in a restaurant, even in a church, people will maintain a degree of vigilance. It will be difficult to be carefree again. It will be difficult not to keep an eye out for danger.

What is this germ of inhumanity that plagues us? Why does peace continue to evade us? Why can few children in our world finish their childhoods in innocence?

As we face terror’s violent appearance once again, many will want vengeance. We know vengeance can bear no fruit that tastes like peace. If not that, what? Where do begin to make a difference? How? I have no answers. None.

What I know is that reaction without reflection is no answer. That turning around and facing the enemy with a howl of vengeance, with blind rage, is not a good idea. The terrorists took a long time to get to the moment of carrying out their plan. It is right that we take some time to do the same. Time to grieve the dead, time to wrap our heads around the damage. We need time to come to grips with the new reality. Those who have already grabbed their guns and cocked them will not help us. They haven’t so far. Have they?

Day by day in Paris and everywhere in the world there are souls that help us heal, souls that love, souls that speak truth, a truth without demagoguery.  There are souls that show us the way of gentility, peace and forgiveness if only we are willing to listen.

Don’t look for them preaching from pulpits of churches, where each congregation has its own version of God and of heaven and hell that they would have us believe. In churches that teach us difference instead of similarities, that teach us that God loves some more than others as if that were a concept even conceivable to Love. Don’t look for them in the halls of governments corrupted by greed for riches and fixed ideals that leave no wiggle room for freedom. Look inside yourself. Look to the grandmothers’ wisdom, look in the eyes of a child. Look at the stars, the beauty of the earth. Behold Love. Breathe Love. Give Love. Breathe Peace. Breathe them into yourself until they are such a part of you that even fear can no longer touch you. And then, after the healing, after you become That that you were meant to be, then and only then, take action.

So that no children wake up to broken hearts, bullet holes and chards of glass.

There is no time, you say? I say there is no time not to. I fear if we don’t find sanity and love, there will no longer be any grandmothers or grandchildren populating this earth.

On a visit to Paris at Louvre.
On a visit to Paris at Louvre.


It all began as most things do with a confluence of forces., and as is typical of these things, it is hard to pinpoint when the forces began to gather.

I have this friend….

She is a Pedro Pan like me, orphaned of home and country by the Castro government. Like myself she found herself on an airplane headed for the States with a day’s notice. I came alone. She came with her little brother. We were both taken to the same camp when we came to the U. S. but by the time she arrived there I had moved on to a boarding school in California. Her name is Yolanda, the same as my birth name. In Cuba when you share a first name with someone it is said you are “tocayas”. We met on the Miami Herald Pedro Pan site, created for Pedro Pan children to locate one another. A few years ago she welcomed me to the site. We got to know one another and found out as time went on that our families knew each other in Gainesville FL and we had heard of one another from our families decades before we met. I call her my Tocaya del Alma, the tocaya of my soul. Our families are linked by friendship now and I love her deeply.

When Yoli heard that I was to have open- heart surgery that coincided with her trip to greet her granddaughter’s entrance into this world, she immediately volunteered to come and help out during the first days of my recovery. Little Thalia arrived and with her a joy that filled Yoli’s heart to the brim! When it was time for my surgery Yoli came as promised but my surgery had to be postponed because I became ill the night before. After a few quiet days with us catching up and enjoying each other’s company, she returned to Seattle to be with her daughter and baby Thalia and made plans to come back in a couple of weeks at which time we hoped my surgery would be rescheduled. As things turned out, she landed in Medford as another confluence of forces gathered, this time in her hometown of Columbia, South Carolina.

It began when a storm reversed direction along the Atlantic Seaboard. Then a strengthening non tropical storm in the South, a strong area of high pressure in Canada and converging tropical moisture from Hurricane Joaquin near the Equator joined forces, and Richland County, South Carolina received between sixteen and twenty one inches of rain from Friday October 2 to Sunday morning October 4. It is the heaviest rainfall in recorded history in South Carolina. The chances of it happening calculated as once in a thousand years. No one was ready for it. As we dealt with the postponement of my surgery once again, Yoli watched her beloved Columbia drowning from far away.

Fortunately Yoli’s husband Tony was home and reported their home was safe. But all of us know that Yoli will be going home soon to a place that will be far different from the one she left. In her generous spirit she came here to be with us. Circumstances have made it possible for us to be present to her as she grieves the loss to her city, the losses that her friends have experienced, and the helplessness that invades us all in the face of personal and collective disasters.

I was moved to write this blog tonight because of a quote I read on Yoli’s Facebook page by Shell Suber, Columbia SC Political Director to Senator Lindsey Graham:

“My family spent most of the day on nearby Burwell Lane and Rickenbacker Road helping neighbors in Cross Hill. It’s numbing. Things that were possessions five days ago are debris today. The blazer with the brass buttons someone’s dad had as long as they can remember. The sofa from grandma’s. The photo album. The daughter’s wedding dress. Someone’s diploma. Someone’s yearbook. The new stove. The old Buick. A lawnmower. Lamps and chairs and rugs and tables and beds. Wet and ruined things in pile after pile-some as big as a school bus- grow along the street. Volunteers young and old covered in foul mud going from house to house dragging someone else’s life into the yard, into the grass, into the sunlight. Every corner is a makeshift restaurant where donated food and water are dispensed. Each person’s face reveals the unexpected gift of renewed perspective. You wish a day like this would never come. You wish every day was like this. “

And so it is. We live our lives as if we were indestructible. We forget that nothing material we own is permanent and sometimes it is the material things that own us. We work umpteen hours a day to keep our houses, our cars, our little luxuries. And once in a while we are shaken to our foundation by an unexpected challenge, an unexpected disaster. And it is at those times, when everything seems lost that love finds us in the kindness of a friend who travels to be with us, in the face of a volunteer that feeds us, in the strength of a community that supports us, and hopefully we reassess our values and vow to be conscious of every blessing in our life and invest more time loving one another than things that don’t exist once we close our eyes.

Thank you Shell Suber, for allowing me to share your post and letting us see ourselves at our best through your eyes.  And thank you Yoli, my Tocaya del Alma, for your generosity and willingness to support me when I need it and for sharing the joy and the drama of our existence.


Yoli and Thalia.  Welcome little one!

Making God Laugh

“Remember that our desires will not arrive by our schedule. If you really want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.”
― Wayne W. Dyer, Inspiration: Your Ultimate Calling

This was the year.  It was the year I would finish my memoir, the year I would re launch my private practice, the year I would consistently make time to sit quietly every day to meditate, the year I would find the time to catch up on my reading….it was to be a year of peace and contemplation spent with my husband, my precious family, and my friends.

And then God laughed.

In all fairness I gave God reason to laugh.

You see, when I was little and other kids talked about what they wanted to be when they grew up, they said they wanted to be lawyers, doctors, teachers, housewives.  But not me.  I wanted to be a saint. Mother Dolores, my second grade teacher at Merici Academy in Havana, laughed when I told her that.  She said there had been no Saint Yolanda and without a patron saint to help me my quest for sainthood would be all but impossible.  Still, I tried.  I memorized the Mass in Latin and my friend Haydecita and I pretended to be priests. My family pretended to be the congregation.  To our “Dominus Vobiscum” they would answer “Et Cum Spiritu Tuo” and acted as if they were attending a real Mass, and even took Communion.  Haydecita and I made our hosts to look similar to the hosts at our Church by using the sugar wafers that wrapped the “turrones”, a type of nougat candy, that my grandfather ordered from Spain.

My quest for sainthood remained an unwavering goal throughout my childhood and until I turned fourteen.  Then for reasons that seemed to have nothing to do with Mother Dolores’ predictions, I began to re examine my goals.

Exile at fourteen was not always a grueling experience.  It had its moments.  And slowly  the thoughts of sainthood were replaced by the very secular pleasure of walking on the sand at Eden Rock Beach with my friends, singing the lyrics to “Soldier Boy” and “My Boyfriend’s Back” while we searched for the cutest life guard on the beach.  A few years later when watching The Sound of Music, I particularly understood Maria’s internal struggle. I was a senior in high school then, still carrying a yearning for the walls of a convent but already knowing a husband and children, a family, would be my chosen life.

But while the convent was no longer an option, my thirst for a spiritual life, my search for the God I loved from the moment I took my first breath continued.

Growing up Catholic and being a girl made it almost inevitable that I would embrace the concept of sacrificing myself for others. And while life, therapy, and prayer have taught me that in order to show up for others what is required is my wholeness and my being at my healthiest and most alive, the old tendencies towards martyrdom can take me over almost unconsciously.   Give me a friend in need and I will go into rescue mode like the cute lifeguards of my youth and try to rescue even those who verbally make it clear they would rather drown.   For a time I get pulled down by the force of their lust for death, until I realize I am the one who is not coming up for air.

And God, bless His heart, watches me full of compassion and love, and surely chuckles at my silliness, and breathes a sigh of relief as I come to my senses, break through the surface of the water and BREATHE.  And I hear his voice in my soul telling me not to worry, that He is the ultimate savior and he has my back.

I am proud to say that I come to my senses much more quickly than I used to in my younger days though sometimes not quickly enough to avoid the consequences of my actions.

And so I find myself at one of those moments, breathing, and reassessing not so much what my plans are but reflecting and listening to God’s voice within.  And having done that to the best of my ability, I will share with you the decisions I have made.

My husband and I are packing our belongings yet again.  We are moving to Southern Oregon.

We have rented a house.  I will be working at a wonderful hospital using my medical social work skills.  I still hope to finish my memoir.  I will live close to my friends Sharon Mehdi, Sharon Chinook, Nancy Bardos, and the wonderful Daley family.  I have already met other people I know I will enjoy getting to know better. I will be close to the Shakespeare Festival, the Britt Festival, and some of the best hiking and fishing country anywhere.  I will join my friend Sharon Mehdi’s writing group.  And I still hope to return to a steady meditation practice and enjoy the peace and quiet with my husband and the frequent visits with my beloved children and grandchildren.

I am leaving behind amazing friends:  The Writers in the Rafters with whom I have creatively journeyed for almost ten years, and too many others to mention.  But I am sure I will still pop in at meetings on occasional Saturdays when I come to visit because I can’t imagine leaving them forever.

And so life goes on, a series of valuable lessons that repeat until we really get them.  Endings and beginnings.  And as April of this pre planned year of mine approaches, God and I wink at each other and laugh together at my folly and His wisdom and the excitement of a new beginning.

Genesis 12:1-3 Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.

I pray that I will be a blessing to the lives I touch in my new home.

A Christmas Present for Cuba?

Early this morning a cacophony of sounds awakened me from a deep sleep. The sounds were coming from my IPhone.. Emails, messages on Messenger and private messages. My friends in the East Coast forget that I don’t wake up until three hours after they do, but they seldom contact me en masse.

In a half hour I received two hundred and five emails and messages. For a moment I entertained the thought that perhaps, just perhaps, by some unexpected miracle my Cuba had been liberated. After 53 years in this country it is a possibility that only exists in the furthest reaches of my subconscious mind.

I began to read the messages that arrived from my American friends mostly congratulating me for the announcement that our president Barack Obama, and Cuba’s president Raul Castro, had reached an agreement to begin a new chapter in the relationship between our countries. I ran downstairs to watch this historic moment on television.

Even before our president had an opportunity to utter a word, I was receiving messages like these from my Cuban friends:

“I knew this president was going to take this abominable action before he left office”

Another friend wrote: “We cannot forget that our parents had to leave the country where we were born because of the Communist regime that has enslaved Cuba for the last 55 years. It is SHAMEFUL that the president of this great nation is attempting to normalize relations with the same vermin that continues to disgrace our Cuba”

And yet another: “What of the thousands of political prisoners still jailed in Cuba, jailed because they want to be free? Who is thinking about the thousands who tried to escape to freedom and sank in rafts before they could reach friendly shores? May God help us!”

My American friends were less opinionated. They asked me what I thought of these new developments. What does this Cuban whose bones and soul were formed in that beloved island more than half a century ago think?

I am a Pedro Pan child. Like more than fourteen thousand other children one day I found myself alone in this country that received me with so much love and welcomed me to the experience of freedom. I had left my dad, Pablo Lopez Capestany, a Cuban attorney, journalist, and writer in a cage in Isla de Pinos prison for trying to alert the Cuban public through his TV program Ante la Prensa that Fidel Castro was a communist. Jailed for speaking his mind. Forced into cold showers on winter days, forced to shovel human excrement in a futile and humiliating exercise. When he finally arrived in exile he never spoke about his prison experience. He only confessed to a constant hunger for ice cream. My mother always made sure there was a full gallon of ice cream in the refrigerator.
Despite that painful experience, he never ceased to use his words to fight ignorance about the Cuban plight, to explain, to condemn injustice, to dissuade those who thought minds could be changed with the power of violence. He was a patriot until the last day of his life.

And what about me? What do I think? After all these years my blood tastes more of the Pacific Ocean that graces the coast of my beloved Oregon than of the Caribbean Sea.

I think that the embargo hasn’t worked. The embargo has given Fidel and Raul a reason for their enmity with this country. It has given them a justification of their hatred of the United States, and has helped to maintain a people full of fear of their supposed enemies to the north. I think that many Cubans have suffered hunger, that many Cubans have lived far away from one another in an effort to maintain the division fostered by the embargo. I think that the slightest movement in any direction has the potential of taking us to a new place, to a new dialog.

I am also of the opinion that the souls of the Castro tyrants have over half a century of practice working towards becoming more evil than Machiavelli. I always look behind their words and gestures, always look for the trick, for the dagger hidden behind the most apparently innocuous idea. They and their minions are not transparent. I think about the motives, possibly of an economic nature that lead the United States to take this step at this moment. Why at this moment?

Yet at the same time, unable to put my faith in either government, I find myself trusting the people. The American people and the Cuban people: today we are opening the doors of possibility that one day we will get to know each other better, meeting out in the open without the influence of communism/opportunism or capitalism.

I am hopeful that there will be open communication through the Internet, that until now has remained a concept to the majority of Cuban citizens without access to its wonders and opportunities, that as Americans travel to Cuba in greater numbers the Cuban people will see in them the kindness and intelligence and compassion I have found they possess in this country. I like the idea that it will be the common people without a political agenda who will ultimately be able to begin a different future for that country of mine so distant and so loved.

But my hope is colored by a great deal of caution. And I remember my grandfather Pablo Lopez Morales, who when a militiaman said shortly after Fidel took power: “Now we will have a free Cuba!” He paused and said to him: “Well young man, we will see…”

We will see.