When my mother and father arrived in the U.S. they rented a small house in Miami, FL Coconut Grove area along with my cousins Marly and Eddy. Eddy and I revisited the house a couple of years ago, almost fifty years later. The house seemed even smaller to us, but it was painted and well taken care of. The neighborhood appeared much better kept than we remembered. The trees were taller, the streets and sidewalks pristine, it had become a quiet and charming place that I loved revisiting with him.
Many of us have never revisited the homes we left behind in Cuba. At first because we couldn’t, then because many of us wouldn’t, remembering the years of terror that we experienced during the Revolution. Now our children are adults and many want to see what became of the land they only know from old pictures and from our stories, and as we face the evening of our lives we agree to take them back to where it all began. Waiting for Fidel to die before “going home” is not an option any longer. Time is of the essence.
My friend Piti took her husband and her son to Cuba this month. I confess I wanted to go with her to stand on the street where we grew up together, the street that watched us play and that one day witnessed our poignant good bye. But it was not to be. As much as I yearn to breathe the the Cuban air again, I am still ambivalent about the journey. The decision was made easier because members of Piti’s extended family were traveling with her and there was no room for me. It is not easy to find a van big enough for eight people in Fidel’s Cuba!
Piti brought Cuba back with her in pictures. As soon as she settled in she sent me over a thousand pictures taken by her son during their visit. Unlike the experience I shared in Coconut Grove with my cousin, there was little of the familiar in the Cuba I got to visit glued to my computer screen in our Beaverton, Oregon condominium. The men in the olive green uniforms look the same, but the land they took over, the land they purportedly came to save, is much the worse for wear.
This is my grandparent’s house. The picture was taken shortly after I left, and sent to me in boarding school so I could feel close to home.
Here is what Piti found….
My house is a government building. The cream colored house was built on our once beautiful yard and the structures behind the house are now invisible. One of those was the Kindergarten my grandfather built for my aunt Isel where many neighborhood children left happy memories.
This is Piti standing on the porch of the beautiful white house, now shabbily painted blue.
And a front view. Piti and her cousin were denied entry into the building.
Piti’s own house next door and to the left cannot be seen in these pictures, but it is in much worse condition. A man lives there now, one of the poor Fidel came to save, the house falling apart around him. Fidel’s house?
Now called Ground Zero you can see it in the background. He also has a helicopter pad and another mansion on the same property near our old Country Club, the Habana Biltmore. Someone sent me the picture which they had not taken themselves, so don’t know who to credit. But you get the idea…..
You say you want a Revolution?