My first memory of the Cienfuegos Yacht Club, the one that actually meets, not this building, is a mildy happy one. I was a bored tween and my Mom let me wear cream eyeshadow. This was a Big Deal, and so I took myself very seriously, trying hard to act old, to act dignified, to act Yacht Club-ish.
The problem was that the Cienfuegos Yacht Club wasn’t in Cienfuegos, it was in Miami.
And instead of meeting in a sunbleached building surrounded by boats, it met a wide boxes of hotel convention room, filled with brightly dressed people speaking Spanish one or two notches louder they normally would.
Compared to that, the building in Cuba – our next stop through Cienfuegos -- seems strangely quiet.
The steps to climb in front of the entrance seem more ceremonial than functional. I imagine in another life I might have posed here next to a starched white-tuxedoed date on a Very Formal occasion.
My Mom, our cousin and I walk through the entry.
There they are, the trophies.
There are the pictures.
There is the history.
I thought it would be gone.
It’s still here.
The rumors were wrong.
If I go back to the US, back to Abuelo, with nothing more than this news and this alone I know he will be pleased.
We walk through the main room and out to the back, where the boats would be. I admire the brave white architecture, I take in the view.
We walk to what once was a bar area which is now a tourist buffet. The staff has just arrived and are arranging themselves for a meeting, but they let us in to look around.
Then we walk along the buffet, where bilingual signs explain the food. The translation for shrimp became shrimps; one of the signs says “meat bowls” instead of “meatballs.” A tiny bit of me wants to tell them, correct them, fix this place that is so important to us, but then again, its just a building.
I don’t feel the pull to find stories here, not today, like I did in the other places, and besides that, I’m getting thirsty again.