Who, what, when, where and why.

You may recall that I was asked to participate in this year’s We Media event at the University of Miami. I’ll be on a panel discussing new techonologies and how we can build communities using same.

To be perfectly honest, when I started Babalu I had no idea it would grow the way it has and never in my wildest dreams would I have thought Id be asked to participate in a conference with basically all the head honchos, big wigs, CEO’s, managing editors, presidents, etal of all the major media services and internet technologies. I mean, just look at the list in that link, there’s some major major players there.

It occurs to me that when I started this blog, I never had a plan. I didnt have a game plan to follow or a script. I just wanted to tell some stories. I wanted a place to record what life in the diaspora is like.

I’m extremely proud of the work we’ve done here. I’m extremely proud to have a place where people can come to every day and hang out, read stuff that interests them, comment on whatever they want, share their opinions and their own stories. We really are an internet based community.

What Im most proud of, though, is that ever increasing and ever growing “Cubiches” blogroll. The internet was not bereft of commentary on Cuba and Cuban issues when Babalu began. There were plenty of web sites and forums that discussed only all things Cuba, but in blog terms, Babalu was pretty much the first one that concentrated strictly on news and information about the island shaped like a crocodile in the Caribbean. Now, there’s quite a few more Cuba related blogs and – please believe that I am not patting myself on the back here – I’m incredibly proud to have had this humble effort pave the way for so many other talented, opinionated, intelligent and hard working bloggers.

And in this our fourth year of blogging, I realize I have never asked you all what brought you here. What brings you all here on a daily or weekly basis? How did you get here? How did you find this small slice of netspace? Do you have a favorite post? Which one? Why?

This blog is much more than the stories and opinions published on it. It’s more than me ranting away or its contributor’ articles and editorials. The readers of this blog are its most important aspect and asset. So please, take a minute or two – yes, even you lurkers out there – to answer those questions posed above. Cafecitos will be served shortly.

12 thoughts on “Who, what, when, where and why.”

  1. I can’t remember how I exactly came across your blog, Val (might have been Publius Pundit). I remember that it was about a year ago and I’ve just started commenting, after breaking down and getting a TypeKey account. What brings me here is not just hearing about your views on the Cuban situation but seeing (along with KillCastro’s blog) a small view inside a “closed (lack of freedom of speech, etc.)” society and the glimmers of hope that trickle thru the heavy censorhsip put up by Castro & co. If there’s was one post I really enjoyed, it was the one you backlinked not too long about your aunt. I’ve always wanted to know whose eyes those were. Beyond that though, I enjoy coming here and reading your thoughts, as well as everyone else that writes for the blog. Keep it up and congrats on inclusion on the panel!

  2. I started vising this site about two years ago when a friend sent me the link. The great stories and comments have kept me coming back every day. I know I can always get the latest info without the MSN bias on this site. It is hard to say which post was my favorite, because they all are, but the one about your Aunt certainly made an impact. It made me remember all my aunts that stayed behind in Cuba and who have passed away. I last saw them 46 years ago, when I left Cuba with my parents as a small child, and it made me wonder what it would have been like to grow up having them around, and how they would have influenced me.

    Val, keep up the good work.

  3. I first found http://www.therealcuba.com because my mom gave me the address (I think she got if from Radio Mambi). After I saw Jorge’s website, I started to search for Cuban sites, and found Babalu.

    At that time I must admit I was very naive about this whole blogging business and it took me a while to wrap my head around it. It’s been almost two years and I’m still here – a daily read even if I don’t comment.

  4. Congrats on all your blog success, Val. To me, the most exciting thing about Babalú is not how far it has come, but the potential it has to go so much farther.

    This site is heavily trafficked, but Babalú, I think, can be much more than a run-of-the-mill blog. It’s great that the man behind the blog seems willing to take this thing places.

    I hope you enjoy the process as much as the rest of us do.

  5. Val,

    I think I got here through a Google search a while back … and I’m grateful for that! Just like my daily morning cup of cafecito, I look forward to checking what’s going on in the Babalu neighborhood.

    This virtual “vecindario” is my way of remaining connected to my Cuban roots. This is where, no matter if we don’t look or sound Cuban, or we may have different ways of going about things, or support different political parties in this great country, we all come together in principle! You have managed to provide a forum for productive exchange of opinions, in spite of the occasional trolls 🙂 We may not always agree with everyone’s opinion on a particular subject, but after visiting Babalu’s neighborhood, we can walk away with an understanding of why some may see things differently. At Babalu, I get news, editorials, anecdotes, and humor. What I like the most is that through your site, I have been able to learn first hand, either through posts, links, or comments,about the
    (hi)stories of so many … because we all have a (hi)story to tell as a result of over 48 yrs. of the tyranny and caprice of castro.

    Just like a gardener, who plants one seed here and another one there … and before he knows, he’s become the neighborhood gardener … you have managed to not let it go to your head … you remain the same down-to earth person. You should be proud that your garden has become a place for others to visit and learn that they each can make a difference.

    I wish you well 🙂 Melek

    “I hear all comments and criticisms around me. I chew on them. I’m nourished by the ones that I decide work for me and spit out the others.” ~ K. Borsheim

  6. Mr. Prieto,
    I came to this blog when my mom sent me the link, I’m pretty sure she found it through Michelle Malkin’s site. My favorite posts are the ones where you reflect on family, “Beisbol” is one that particularly stands out, although many have moved me. I was raised by a patriotic mother, who in the face of any whining from her children always reminded us how fortunate we were to live in the USA. She would always say, “We live like kings compared to most of the world” & “No, you’re not getting a pair of Nike’s with the red swoosh.” Having been raised to value our freedom, Cuba always concerned me. After moving here 8 years ago & seeing Cubans on live tv struggling to reach our shores really put things into perspective for me & that concern grew into a passion of sorts. As for the “Why” I would love to know what to do to help more, as of now I teach my children the value of freedom & write letters/emails, but what’s the next step?

  7. There were a couple of different circumstances that led to my getting here. To be quite honest, I used to make fun of my mom when she would talk about the blog she was reading. “Oh, there you go again, talking about some crazy Cubano on the internet. Que boberia!” After the whole thing happened with Fidel and then the Marti Moonlighters, my liberal friends starting talking about Cuba and making stupid statements that were infuriating, but I had no real place to get any other opinions or facts. Then one day, while out shopping, I found a little tiendacita that had a giant Cuban Flag with the classic Korda picture on it. I was SOOOO angry we had to leave. My problem of not having facts to back up my anger had to go; I was feeling like a sheltered bimbo. So I started doing research and humbly asked my mom if she knew of any good websites to get information now that I was going to be a political person. She sent me here and to Cuban-American Pundits. So I’ve been here almost every day since September and I love it. It makes me feel connected because, living in Southern Cali, I don’t know many Cubans and most of the news is about what’s going on in Mexico. I am so grateful this blog is here. Thanks for starting it Val!

    As for my favorite post, it would have to be the one about your grandfather and the Old Spice smell. I loved it because I am always very aware of how certain people smell and how certain smells bring back special memories. About the same time you posted that, I was missing my abuelo and his smell of cigars and how he always called all of his nietas “China.” What I’ve been missing most is that I can’t talk to him about the things going on in Cuba now and he’s not here to tell me the story of how he escaped and why and what it was like before. He was such an amazing storyteller and appreciated good stories so much, I know he’d love hearing about the blogs I read everyday. And I love reading them everyday because I don’t feel like the only crazy passionate Cuban on the planet.


  8. Hi Val,
    I have been hanging around here for over a year. I probably began searching for Cuba news on Yahoo and found Babalu. (you are my number one news source now, BTW)
    Like Melek, I like hanging around this virtual neighborhood. I feel very at home here. I can almost smell the pastelitos and fresh brewed cafecito here in the mornings. And I can almost hear the sound of Cuban voices raised in debate.
    I love the sound of Cubonics.
    Babalu always has intelligent, insightful and sometimes hilarious content.
    I was inspired to start blogging myself because of you, Cuban American Pundits, Uncommon Sense, and Blog for Cuba. My own blog is about my own family, and being Cuban-American, and living life “on the hyphen.” I don’t usually have any political commentary at all.
    But I have found that “it’s a small Cuban world, after all.” I have connected with other Cuban-Americans in the blogosphere. I LOVE being a part of this community.
    And I have to add that one of my very proudest moments was finding myself listed among your “Cubiches.”
    Thanks, Val, for all you do.

  9. I came here from Dr Sanity, and stayed because I like y’all here. I grew up among a bunch of Vietnamese boat people, so I knew more about folks who fled Communist persecution than maybe a kid should.

  10. I was born and raised in Miami. I was old enough to remember the castro takeover/betrayal and kennedy betrayal. I’m anglo, although I don’t like the term. I’m native norn American for many generations. No hyphens, just American. I don’t like the practice of hyphenating nationalities, but whatever.
    I was always apalled that exiles were prevented from taking the island back.
    Euqally apalled at the ignorance of much of the country from the very start.
    I’m in Memphis now (don’t ask). A friend who also likes Spanish and so many elements of Cuban clulture turned me on to Babalu.
    You have great information, and I have become increasingly interested. If Cuba were free, I might try to live there.
    Hearing and seeing Hollywood idiots with their foolish castro praise and che t shirts finally threw me into near rage. Some of my extended family is Cuban by marriage, I get to go to the great Buena Noche party every year in S. Miami.
    Even though I have, as an ‘anglo’ been seriously pissed off by some woman in a shop saying, “this is OUR city now, you better learn spanish!!”, I have many friends and sympathize with those stuck in the island prison. (I do know some spanish—but the militant pretend not to understand grrrr)

    You have a good blog, and intelligent info. And I LOVE Cafe Cubano!!! I would help fight to overthrow Raul and his brother the plastic anus in a heart beat.

  11. Almost forgot… I guess this is VERY late, but it looks like you will be there with a handful of people from the University of Missouri School of Journalism, where I am studying right now (well… actually I’m eating breakfast there right now, but that’s not the point.)

    Put in the good word haha.

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