After one year, three months, and twenty three days abroad, I returned to Cuba, my homeland. I honestly don’t know where to begin to tell my experience. I longed to reunite with my town and all the important people I had left behind.
INSIDE THE PLANE
Once in the Cubana Airplane it hit me that I was going to Cuba: the Spanish accents, hilarious situations, the treatment of the hostesses, the pilot’s lousy English, no blanket, little food for a flight of nine and half hours, and a number of characteristics that indicated that we hadn’t taken the wrong flight.
WAITING FOR OUR LUGGAGE FOR HOURS
My mother and I arrived at the Jose Marti airport in Havana at about 9:30 pm. Actually, we found this very rare, because usually flights departing from Madrid, Spain, are delayed three or four hours at least.
The next step was exhausting. Immigration check. We arrived at the immigration check, after struggling to get off the plane because everyone wanted to leave at once. The queue was endless because there was passengers from five flights. It took an hour to pass.
Now we were at a decisive point: find our luggage. The history of the bags, goes back two months before the trip when we began to collect clothes, shoes, medicines, toiletries, and food -lots of food- for the family.
After remaining motionless for about 40 minutes, the mat finally began to work, but after a while with only 5 suitcases circulating, it froze again. The situation made me laugh. We had to wait another 40 minutes until the mat tossed out the baggage.
After four hours in the airport in Cuba, I patiently waited the reward that was waiting at the other side of the door: the warm embrace of the family that I had missed so much.
A CITY OF CONTRASTS
Upon arrival in Placetas, the city where I used to live, I recalled my past of the happy little girl that I was when I lived there.
The truth is, the city hasn’t changed much since I went to Spain. What caught my attention was that even though people complain about the low wages and precariousness of life in Cuba, Placetas gleamed with lots of remodeled houses, and so many other buildings built which evoke luxury.
All these new houses are a sharp contrast to the old houses which are falling apart. Some houses are average however, like the ones my family have. Several generations live together in these houses. People who live in these types of houses are considered fortunate.
Many government buildings are also in ruins. I had the opportunity to enter the offices of the Civil Registry of Placetas, because my mother had to make some legal formalities there. It is a house that was expropriated by the Cuban State when the original owners left Cuba to go to the United States. First, I faced a daunting stairway. My aunt spent several minutes trying to climb it. Meanwhile, we were melting in the heat. Once up the stairs, I waited in the lounge. The sofas were about 60-70 years old, but still remain in use.
You can also see the creativity that characterizes Cubans in the old LG air conditioning machines, which are still the kings of cooling in Cuba. They are distinguished by their ingenious containers to collect the waste water which are made from plastic bottles.
LAUGHTER IS ALL WE COULD DO
Humor is the source of life of Cubans. In order to move this wooden wardrobe from one house to another we had to make a great effort. It weighed several kilos and there was only one person home. So, we went out looking for a carriage driver who could help us lift the family heirloom. We could not move it, although we tried our best. Eventually the driver appeared, but when we put the closet into the carriage, the horse was frightened by the weight and began to run. The wardrobe went flying and broke into several pieces. However, we could not stop laughing.
TO SURF THE WEB
Another interesting thing I experienced on my vacation was connecting to a wireless network. This is a novelty! People crowd into the offices of the telephone company to buy a card with a username and password that allows you to connect. This card is valid only for one hour of connection but you can use anytime and it costs 50 Cuban pesos ($2). However, the WiFi network is only enabled in some cities. To connect to the Internet and talk with my father after three weeks in Cuba, I had to travel 22 miles from Placetas to the city of Santa Clara.
It was exciting to be back with the family and all my friends, especially my little cousin Isabela. When I left she was just a newborn baby and now she has grown so much. This made me realize how long I had been away from home. All in all, it was very special to be able to visit my home-country of Cuba this past summer.