There's so much I want to tell you about Cuba Nostalgia.
But right now, let me tell you about the maps.
There were three and they were larger than life.
One of the city of Havana. One of the city of Santiago de Cuba. One of the entire island.
The last one was placed just to the right of the Babalu booth, and so we had the privilege of witnessing the following scene over and over and over:
They would see the map and make a beeline for their spot on the map. There was no deviation. It was as if they were following invisible stage directions. Of course, I did it too. We all did. I walked the island with my friend, Reinier, starting in Pinar del Rio where my father's family, the Verdes side were from, all the way to Oriente and Holguin where my grandmother's family, the Espeletas were from. We made a stop in Puerto Padre, where my grandfather's family, Perez-Puelles originated. We walked all the way back to Havana and compared notes about what part of that province we knew and where our families were from. Everyone was doing a version of this "island walk." I loved that.
But every now and then someone else made their map-walking pilgrimage and their commentary went something like this: "Nine years here. Six years here…" They would walk over the map as we all did, talking and pointing. Not to the places where their families had lived, or where they had once vacationed, but to the places where they had served time. Because they were once political prisoners and they were talking about where they had served time in castro's gulag. And this was not just one isolated case. There were so many. So many! It was shocking to me. I know. It shouldn't have been, right? I knew this intellectually, but these were people with faces and families and lives. I felt the impact viscerally. And I couldn't keep the tears from leaking out.
We spent most of the weekend getting people to electronically sign this petition for the release of Cuba's political prisoners. The ones who had done time in Cuban jails were pushing their way forward and finding in us a willing audience for their stories. And you know, I usually don't write about political topics, but I do write about being Cuban and celebrating family. Well, this is not about politics. It IS about families. It's about husbands and wives and daughters and sons. It's about families torn apart because of the courage of a few to speak up against the injustices of the revolution and having their lives ripped apart for doing so.
I'm proud to report that we personally typed in over 3,000 names over the course of the weekend and handed out dozens of CAMBIO bracelets.
Please add your name to the petition.
You see, today, May 20th is Cuban Independence Day.
It was on May 20th, 1902, that the island of Cuba declared her independence from Spain.
And it is today, May 20th, that I have written this, my 500th post, but that's not important right now…..
…..or maybe it is?