The following post was written by Kikita.
I knew the video of my mother being dragged into the water of Varadero by heart. I knew the games they used to play. I call out "Buenos Dias, Familia!" knowing it is what the viandero used to say. I knew that they would get up super early to eat breakfast because my abuela, Luza, would make them wait THREE HOURS before letting them swim. I knew that they would HATE to come out of the water for lunch. I knew that they would swim until it was late. I knew the games they would play in the water. I knew Varadero was "the most beautiful beach in the world."
What I didn't know was the sense of urgency I would feel when I first saw the sign that let me know that I had finally arrived.
I didn't know how desperate I was to dig my toes into the soft powdery sand. I didn't know that I would burst into tears the minute the water came rushing to meet my feet.
I did not expect to feel such a sense of loss and longing. I did not expect to wish so hard that things were different. That Mami had continued to grow up there and that I too had been able to grow up spending my summers in that same water. I didn't know HOW beautiful "the most beautiful beach in the world" was.
I couldn't go swimming because it was VERY windy AND there were these beautiful blue blobs all over the beach . . . I think they're called Portuguese Man o' War? 😉
I was in Varadero all day and made it "hasta la puntica" just in time to see the sunset.
I kept thinking over and over, "I'm really here. I made it. I've made it to the very end. The very tip."
It was dark by the time we made it to the place where Mami had spent her summers, but I didn't care. The sign was still there. Villa Obdulia. I stood in front of that house and pictured my Abuela with all her kids, my tias y tio y Mami. I wish it had been earlier in the day, I would have knocked on the door. A neighbor told me there was no one home, so I wouldn't have been able to go inside anyway. It didn't matter. The name of the house was still there. I had found my own personal Stonehenge.
I didn't care that I couldn't go swimming. I had felt the warm water. Mami's water. I had felt the soft powdery sand. Mami's sand. I scooped up the sand and packed as much as I could into a ziplock baggy for Mami, but then I pulled out another small container just for me. To remember my moment. It wasn't just a beach in Mami's memory anymore. Now it was mine too. It had become a part of me. A part of my memory.
NOTE: Added by Marta 3/26/2010:
My sisters and cousins on the porch of our beloved Villa Obdulia. Circa 1960. Read that post here.