14ymedio, Eliecer Avila, 19 May 2015 – On Saturday the 16th, being in Miami, a friend invited me to visit the show Cuba Nostalgia. No one knew for sure what it was about, but the name made me curious. The event took place in the outskirts of the city at the Fair Expo Center near the main campus of Florida International University (FIU).
Upon arrival, we saw a huge parking lot full of cars, from which it was common to see a young person emerge – a son or grandson – pushing a wheelchair or leading by the hand their grandparents toward a roofed space in which they reconnected with a vital part of their past.
Cuban music could be heard from afar. Once inside, the displays of old bank notes, photographs, stamps, medals, books, music albums, brand name products, hats and other attractions completely captured the attention of the visitors who, in some cases, spend a long time looking at a single piece, as if transported back in time to their childhood memories, youth, mischief in the Cuban countryside, or pranks and dancing in the cities, always hectic in those Republican years.
Dominoes also had their space. Ladies and gentlemen who seemed to be about 90 – some of them complete with cigar, guayabera, ring and hat – delighted in the slapping down their tiles to the beat of the legendary Macorina played by a band.
It might be better if they keep the memories that are etched in their minds of the Cuba they left
Others tried to locate the neighborhood where they lived on a giant map was printed on the floor.
Amid all the activity, a man walking hand-in-hand with his wife says to me, “This is good guajiro. But I’m pissed off.” “Why,” I ask him. “Chico, you come here to have an enjoyable time, and the first thing you come across is them offering you a coffin and the whole funeral service as if it were beer they were selling. What’s wrong with these people? I am not going to die just yet, so it’s going to be a while before they get a hold of my cash,” and he lets out a cackle that reminds me of some of my uncles.
Suddenly we hear the sounds of a danzon and my interlocutors say goodbye to join in the dancing. Few spectacles please me as much as seeing elderly couples moving to the sounds of Island rhythm. While I watch them, I imagine what their impression would be if they returned to Cuba and visited the villages and cities they left behind half a century ago.
I think it might be better if they keep the memories that are etched in their minds of the Cuba they left, I don’t know. What I am sure of is that these people have maintained their traditions with pride, their Cubanness, and their love for their country every day of their existence. To all of them, my affection and respect.