Back in our early days in “el exilio,” my father put a picture of Jose Marti on the wall of his home office where he’d play chess. It was next to a pre-Castro “peso bill” with Marti’s picture framed on the wall. It was nostalgia and a reminder that the pre-Castro peso actually had the same value as a dollar. My father was a banker in Cuba, so he knew a thing or two about the exchange rates.
Marti’s picture was next to our family pictures on the wall. It was there between our First Communion photos, my parents’ wedding, the grandparents, and other souvenirs from Cuba. My guess is that most Cuban families have a picture of Marti on their walls too.
My parents also had a Marti quote on their wall:
“Nunca son más bellas las playas del destierro que cuando se les dice adiós.”
It loosely translates to “The beaches of the exile are never more beautiful than when you say goodbye to them.” It’s a reminder that many Cubans came to the U.S. hoping for a return to a free Cuba. As my mother used to say, the quote took her back to a beautiful and lovely place called Cuba.
So we remember Jose Marti today and all of those conversations that I had with my late parents about the man they called “The Apostle of Cuban independence.”