Talk to any Cuban living in exile and there is one thing you’ll notice, there is always an ever present feeling of nostalgia. Longing. A longing for their homeland, their old neighborhood, friends. A nostalgia for things they left behind.

These things could be tangibles. The homes they grew up in, an old bicycle, a favorite pet. Or they could be intangibles. The aroma in their home when a grandmother was making arroz-con pollo, the touch of a sea breeze, palmas cubanas, Vitrolas playing throughout their town. Every Cuban in exile is nostalgic for the life they had to leave behind.

Some, like me, long for a youth they never got to live. They have this war within them, a daily battle between the near perfect youth they were afforded here in the US versus the youth they should have lived in Cuba. A nostalgia for something they never had the chance to experience.

Nostalgia is both the bane and the bliss of every Cuban.

Some years back an event was begun here in Miami where people were invited to participate by getting together and presenting their own bits of memories, their own items of nostalgia for each other to wistfully contemplate. It began as a small thing, a couple dozen or so exhibitors and a few hundred visitors, and has since grown immensely.

The event is called Cuba Nostalgia and it’s now in it’s seventh year. It is, by far, the largest convention of Cuban memorabilia, art, music and historical exhibits in the world.

A few days ago, I received an email from the event’s organizer asking if I’d be interested in participating in this years Cuba Nostalgia Convention. When I picked my jaw up off the floor and wiped away the tears, I still couldnt believe it.

“I think you’re doing important work,” the email said. “And I think we should not only show the patrons of Cuba Nostalgia what you’re doing, but show them how they can connect to other Cubans and learn about what’s happening in Cuba and with Cuba through blogs and the internet.”

I was both humbled and floored. When I began Babal?, I never dreamt it would get as much exposure as it as gotten. I didnt realize the importance of it. Of how just a few items or anecdotes about Cuban life in exile and on the island could give so many people something to contemplate and so many Cubans in exile a little bit of the home and life they left behind.

Cuba Nostalgia is no ordinary convention. It’s not like an industry show where all the booths are basically squares set apart by dividers and such. Each booth and exhibit in Cuba Nostlagia has an elaborate and intricate motif. Each exhibit is specially designed and constructed to represent something from Cuba. The Cuba of nostalgia. There is even a huge map of La Habana on the floor where folks who lived in Havana can stroll through their old streets and neighborhoods. It’s not your average run of the mill convention.

I am totally psyched out this. The possibilities are endless.

I’ve yet to get into all the details with the organizers, but they will be setting me up with an exhibition space designed specifically for Babalu Blog and I will be live blogging for three days from the event. We will be having a sit down soon to come up with an appropriate theme.

Ill be starting to work on the logistics: getting high speed net access, procuring computers for folks to be able to read blogs and possibly write entries or communicate with others, graphics, sponsors, the whole nine yards. I will also be running another BlogCuba that weekend to show the patrons of the convention that there is in fact a solidarity with their cause, that it’s not just us Cuban-Americans or Cubans in exile that believe in the cause of a Cuba without a dictator.

The convention isn’t until May, the weekend of the 20th through the 22nd, but there’s alot of work to be done. I would appreciate any info or input or suggestions you all may have as it’s you guys that read this blog that have helped make this happen. I’m grateful to each and every one of you that graces this blog with your visits and your comments.

And, if you’ve been thinking of coming down to Miami for a few days R&R, consider making it that weekend. The more people we have there will not only help show your average person attending the convention how important this blog phenomenon is, but, best of all, it will stick it to fidel by showing him that he can’t stop the communication forever.

Gracias, mi gente.

20 thoughts on “BIG NEWS AT BABALU”

  1. Val; just got a great Idea for a promotional bumper sticker. Picture this… Big Red sexy lip prints… fidel Kiss My Ass ! It will pay for the bandwith your going to need in May.

  2. I’ve been to Cuba Nostalgia in years past and what i thought was the greatest part was all the young people there, that were born here in the U.S. learning about their roots and keeping them alive. It was a great experience. I will be there. Also that weekend on the 20th of may in Cuba leading disident Maria Beatriz Roque will try and hold a gathering to promote a civil society in Cuba. Maybe you could tie in with that??? What ever you do will be great. I’m very happy for you and the exposure you blog has gotten. It is very important to all of us exiles. Thanks Val.

  3. Congrats Val! It’s amazing how much this Midwesterner has learned about the Cuban exile experience since reading this blog. Where else would somebody in a small farming community get this insight? The opportunity is well earned.

  4. More Cuban blogging

    After reading Val’s post at Babalu about Cuba Nostalgia, I began to wonder if it was possible to be nostalgic for a place you have never actually been…I have wanted to go to la isla, to hear the stories again where they actually happened – of cours…

  5. Wow,wow, wow! Two days ago I cancelled plans for my annual Ft. Lauderdale trip to visit family. Just this morning I was trying to decide when to go, this is perfect. Congratulations Val, very well deserved.

  6. Perhaps you could use the event to encourage or even facilitate other exiles and their family members to begin their own blogs. Possibly a permanent “CubaNostalgia” web page could be created to act as a gathering place for links to cuban-oriented blogs, providing a place for those new to the blogosphere to get their bearings, advice on how to start, etc.

  7. Quick Links

    *** John Hawkins revisits Howard Dean quotes from the recent and not-so-recent past. There are some howlers there, though I can’t quite sense any irony or stupidity in the quotes related to gays, religion and civil unions. Perhaps I’m not…

  8. Very cool. I’m intrigued by Cuba and have truly enjoyed reading your work here. Best of luck with the event. Maybe you could approach someone at Apple and see if they’re interested in playing along somehow… they produce, after all, the computer for the people (I’m a traitor, however – this is written on a PC).

    Lo m?s mejor posible de la suerte. Goce de las frutas de su trabajo. (sorry – its just a Babelfish translation)

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