Like most of you, Babalublog is a daily stop for me (multiple daily stops most of the time) for everything that has to do about Cuba. Since I began reading Val’s creation, it has brought me closer to my Cuban heritage and introduced me to some incredible people like Val himself and the many others here who work hard to keep this blog fresh, interesting and relevant day-in and day-out. The job they do is amazing, so imagine how I felt when Val asked me to become a regular contributor to Babalublog. To say I am honored to be given the privilege of writing alongside these great contributors here is not enough.
Many of you may already know me and have read my blog and some of my essays. To those of you who do not know me, I believe this will give you a good idea of who I am: American by birth – Cuban by blood. As my first post here, I would like to share with all of you something I wrote a few days ago that explains my feelings.
The Cuba Inside Me
I have never felt the heat of a Cuban sun on my face.
I have never felt the sand of a Cuban beach between my toes.
I have never been in a small cafetería hidden in the backstreets of Havana and ordered an Ironbeer y Frita Cubana.
I have never enjoyed a cold Tropical beer on a Sunday afternoon at the Tropical Beer Gardens on the banks of the Almendares River.
I have never been to a farm in Pinar del Rio and listened to a Punto Guajiro while waiting for the lechón to be done.
I have never walked up to my grandmother’s house in Herradura during the early evening and smelled the blossoming jasmines she planted by her front door.
These are all recollections that belong to the friends and members of my family that came before me. Unlike them, I was born in the United States and have no memories of Cuba—all I have are black and white photographs and some treasured moments they have shared with me. A tyrant separated my family from their memories, and that same tyrant separates me from my future memories.
Some people have asked me how I can have such strong feelings and dedication for a country I have never seen. The answer is simple, though hard for some to understand: Cuba is not just an island in the Caribbean—it is a part of my very being. It lives inside me.
I could have been born anywhere in the world, but I still would have been born a Cuban.