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A long time ago, my parents, twin sister and I, escaped from Cuba on a 12-foot boat. We arrived in Miami, Florida June 1, 1961.
Cold and hungry, we didn't know our way around. Times were rough back then. Today, almost 37 years later, I am proud to announce that WE have SURVIVED.
I am sure some of you have heard, early arrivals of Cuban refugees were Upper Middle Class. Right? Well, let me tell you, that is a myth. My family was very poor. Dad was a fisherman, and all he ever owned was a bohio in Pinar del Rio, and "Sue", (his 12-foot boat.)
Our bohio was made of Palm leaves. It had no windows, but one big front door. Ours was oceanfront, and even though we had no electricity or running water, Linda, my twin sister, and I used to have a ball chasing pelicans in our own private shore.
Bohios have no real flooring. They are built over the ground, and since our ground was red, our bohio had red colored floors! Mom used to clean it with ashes from the stove. That made our floor look ruby red.
For furniture we had two old columbines. My parents shared one, Linda, and I shared the other. Cathy, my eldest sister slept in a hammock which she tied to a long pole in the middle of the bohio. Her hammock stood across the center of our living room. It made the bohio looked like a three-ring circus, but we were happy in that forsaken part of Pinar del Rio.
Mom cooked the family meals, on a stove she made with two cement blocks. Mom was proud of her kitchen. Proud to have found those two cement blocks on the road to the fishing village above a hill, behind our bohio. Since most bohios have no bathroom, we had to go outside, except of course at night, when we used a bucket. So, when I say we were poor, I mean were poor to the bones.
Is that why we came to America? No. We came to America in search of personal freedom. Let me explain.
My dad was a very private individual, his passion in life was to go fishing aboard his "Sue", (Dad's sailboat was named after me.) He dreamed about catching the biggest yellowtail in that side of Pinar del Rio. He dreamed of freedom, and of my sister becoming a teacher. His dreams were not fulfilled. The Revolution ended his dreams. Dad was never able to hook that yellowtail. The biggest yellow tail in that side of Pinar.
Our life was modest before the Revolution, we had no TV, nor radio, and our meals consisted mostly of smoked fish and malanga (a Cuban version of potatoes), but Dad was free to roam. He had planned to send my sister Cathy to Havana, to stay with some of our distant relatives so she could study to be a teacher, like my grandpa. Grandpa taught elementary school in Pinar.
When Castro took over the government of Cuba, the President of the CDR (those in charge of spying on each block) came to visit my dad. She told my father, she had a new house for us. The house had four bedrooms and two baths, and belonged to one of the richest men in pinar, who had gone to Miami because he wasn't in favor of the Revolution.
"This is your chance to better yourself and your family." The CDR. woman said. "You cannot stay here anymore, we won't allow it. Our Revolution cannot stand back and let you raise your daughters like savages in this deserted piece of land."
"But Pancha" . . . My dad intended to say.
"You must move." Pancha repeated, then she left.
That was the end of that. Next day, we moved to a house on a hill with large ocean view windows, and black and white ceramic tile floors. Soon after, Linda and I started Kindergarten.
One afternoon Pancha came by and told my dad, he couldn't fish in the ocean anymore. She said people were spreading rumors about him planning a trip to Miami. Pancha said The Revolution wouldn't like that at all. She told Dad he had to fish in the lagoon. She also said he couldn't take us fishing anymore.
Dad kept his word, but became very depressed. He missed his Bohio in the middle of nowhere land. He missed fishing in the open ocean like he always had. His dreams of catching the biggest yellowtail were gone forever. Now he had to fish in the lagoon. Everyone knew there were no yellowtails in the lagoon! Dad was sad, mom was upset. We had a new home, but no one was happy, except Pancha, the president of the CDR.
A couple of months later, my dad was told to give up his boat, he was also told Linda and I had to join and organization called Pioneers of the Revolution. That same night, we escaped to USA.
SusieSource:AOL Keyword Cuba