One Year Outside Cuba, Within The Country / Luis Felipe Rojas

Photo: “Self-Portrait of exile. Nostalgia machine.”

It is exactly one year ago to the day that I left Cuba to enter the other Cuba. They gave me a kick, manu militari, and so I came to fall on this side of the lost country.

Miami gave me the opportunity to speak in the tongue of my grandparents, to return to the preferred palate of my grandparents.  I have achieved the dreams of my grandmother Maria: I drank Jupiña, I tried Materva and I ate again the guava pastries that my godfather Mayaguez used to make.  In that sense the nostalgia machine is still oiled, as always.

Here I have been bored since the police don’t ask me for my identity card nor do they ask for how many days I’ll stay in Little Havana.  My children Malcom and Brenda don’t have to put their hands to their foreheads in each school activity and say that they want to be like Che, that Argentinian fan of multiple and foreign deaths, foreign lands, foreign women, foreign families, to live a borrowed life, to jump from melancholic guerrillas to adolescent T-shirts.  My children are free because they are learning how to be.

It’s been a year since I came to a country that is a lot more generous than it is described to be, from the hand of Lori Diaz and the International Rescue Committee (IRC, “Ay-Ar-Cee, how can we help you?”).  I came to a Miami even more generous, where civil society is so organized that there was no need for a campaign for a foreign lady to give me the first $40 in her checkbook for the month and she treated us in a café.  From the hand of Ivon, Berta, Idolidia and Mario we all went through the first and hard hurricanes of red tape and we came out sane and happy, thanks to God and to them.

Miami gave me back my bicycle and a pain in my calves the first months; the bus and the fright of the next stop.  Here again I published a book and read poetry without demand for political ideology affiliation, at least that’s what Idable and Armando have shown me.  Miami gave me a microphone and a website so I can talk to Cuba at every second as if I was a ubiquitous man, Borgian, and I have been able to interview people from Baracoa, Puerto Padre or Jaimanitas without being afraid of the police attacking my house.

For the past year I’m happy playing dominoes and war. Twelve months I’ve been lounging on Saturdays in the grass with my wife Exilda, (at Tropical Park) looking at the sky to give thanks and ask for another wish: like two children, or two fools, but happy as never before.

P.S: There are other names and beautiful sunsets to mention, but no thanks.

Translated by: Shane J. Cassidy

25 October 2013