"Kikita and the Nonagenarians Go To Cuba" sounds like a good title for a band or a book, doesn't it?
This is Kikita blogging from Miami. In a few hours I will be on a plane headed for Cuba, "mi patria." Not by myself, though. I'm taking TWO people over 90 years old. Yes, OVER 90. That is 90+.
First there is my abuela, Luza, who just turned 96 . . .
And then, there is her OLDER brother who is 99! Tio-abuelo Fernando (we call him Magoo - for obvious reasons) is the most stubborn independent person I know. He likes to do everything himself. He may use a walker, but the man can move quicker than you can say, "Vamonos."
I have a cousin who was born in the U.S., but lives in Cuba with his father, Timbiriche, and came specifically to help the "ñinos" and me make the 90 mile puddle jump. (And I was so thankful I wouldn't be in charge of them alone, until I remembered that this cousin was "tremendo" and is bringing a whole new set of stresses with him - along with a 32 inch plasma tv and a wheelchair, but that's not important right now.)
So this isn't exactly a "vacation." This is An Adventure. This is a A Journey. This is A Mission.
This trip is so important for so many reasons I don't even know where to begin.
The five Perez-Puelles (which is my abuela's maiden name) siblings have not been under the same roof since Noche Buena 1960. Needless to say, this is A Major Event.
For that, I am a simple bystander. I am there to document the wonder that is my heritage.
My abuelo, Papi, asked that his ashes be scattered off the coast of Pinar del Rio, so I have worked incredibly hard in order to make that happen. He had originally asked Mami to do it, but she has passed that mantle of responsibility to me.
Despite the weight that has been placed on my shoulders, I'm walking tall with such an honor. I am going to see where my abuelo grew up. I am going to take my abuelo home.
Luza is not going to be able to make that particular portion of the trip with me because she will be busy with her siblings. The solemn task is mine alone. I think there is a quiet poetry in that because my abuelo was a quiet man who would sometimes seek the comfort of solitude.
Don't get me wrong, he had an amazing sense of humor and was quite a popular man, but there is no doubt he was also very private. Returning him home without a large audience feels appropriate.
This is A Historical Moment for my family so I am filled with a sense of purpose.
It is also a historical moment for me and I can't help but wonder how I am going to feel when I take those first steps off the plane, when I'm sitting on the Malecón, when I feel the Varadero sand beneath my feet, when I see my family's old house on Avenida de la Loma . . .
I am going to try to see as much as I can, to celebrate life, to be in the moment, to document as much as I can and roll with whatever comes my way. I have no expectations. I have only my camera, my suitcase, and two 90+ year old Cubans.
¡Que Dios me cuide!
UPDATE 3/1/2010: I received an email from Amy this afternoon:
We're here. We're safe. Everyone is happy. Don't worry. I LOVE YOU! Send love to my hermanos and my dad. My eyes are bugged out. I am exhausted, but it's good. Everyone has been super sweet y atentivo. I can't wait to tell you all about it. :-)
Marta here: I might be able to sleep tonight. *heavy sigh*