Another Statue of Liberty in Cuba. I Can't Make this Up.

I brazenly and maybe after a few too many thimble sized glasses of Cuban red wine told my cousins we would come back to Cuba in October.

My mom and I  meant to be there this week, right now. We  tried to make it work but a few things weren't quite right and we postponed   We decided to go in November, but there were no seats left on the flights we needed. So now I know I won't see Cuba again this year, and I have to let that be enough.

After hearing so many times from my Abuela (when she could tell me) and my Abuelo (still, from his chair in between episodes of Hardcore Pawn and Cops)  I needed to see Cuba to understand, I finally saw it. I'm starting to understand.  It should be enough to say that I went to Cuba, and then move on to the next thing on my bucket list.

But its not like that.

 I fell in love with Cuba; it told me stories and made me want to write. It filled my imagination and my heart and changed how I saw everything.

After the honeymoon ended and the chapters started to trail off and I sat here quiet alone (and unestranged) (for months) thinking if I could just see Cuba again I would be able to finish the book, I'd have something to really say.

But then yesterday I was going through my iPhone yesterday looking for a new screen for Facebook and I slowed down in my Cuba pictures.

There, there is the Parthenon.  In Cuba. Amazing.

There, me and my Mom at this cemetery, and then the other, placing flowers.

There, me and Jose Marti. Amazing.

And then come the pictures I took while Machete was driving us.

And there right after the picture of the big tree and the other picture of an old guy leering at a woman walking by was a clear shot of a statue I hadn't noticed before.

 I pinch and zoom and squint my eyes.

It can't be. I already found Lady Liberty poised at ground level holding the laws of the Cuban Republic (1902).   It was enough to have found the Statue of Liberty in Cuba. Really.

Now I'm sure it's her, I'm sure its her regal neck her thrown back shoulders I see in this photo shot down the Prado.

She has one arm raised. She is wearing a toga.  It doesn't have to be her.

 It could be Our Lady of Sorority Parties.

 It could be a forgotten then remembered goddess poised with one arm raised commanding sugar to grow and money to flow.

That's craziness.

 It's Lady Liberty planted in stone in Cuba.  You'd agree if you saw her.

I send the image to my Mom to identify.

She isn't sure who it is and sends it to cousins to friends.

They come back with "Patria." Lovely.

Finding that statue gives me hope not only to see Cuba again, but to see Cuba free.

My Cuba Adventure* (Finding the Statue of Liberty, etc)


A three day treasure hunt through the Cold War, the Miami Airport and Cienfuegos, Cuba. 


Prologue - Walking on the Shady Side of the Street 































Thank You for the Generosity of Your Toes


She wakes me up around midnight on Sunday, not that late into the night but late enough that I had finally found peace dreamless sleep. 

 She’s burning up. 

This is out of nowhere, she was fine, just fine and now she’s sick and I have to wake up and figure something out.

Ice, water, Tylenol. 

I try to use the thermometer, the expensive one that scans across skin and makes this crazy beeping pattern that only my children understand. 

Its too dark, I can’t read it, I don’t need to see it. 

She’s burning up.

I settle her on the sofa, tucking her with pillows and blankets.  I wet a cloth with cold water and lay it on her forehead.

She isn’t talking much, and I have nothing to say.  I hope that she'll fall asleep, that I'll fall asleep, everything will be better quickly. 

As I try to move away moans and puts her arms up. Please, pleeeeease,  I need my Mom. 

Ok, Ok, I say and get myself a glass of water before settling down next to her.

She leans against me; maybe actually she pushes herself against me. I once had a dog that would walk up and push his itchy butt on people begging to be scratched in a gesture of needy frustration. 
That’s how her head feels pushed up against me.

I’m nice to her. For as long as I can take it, I’m nice to her.

I have such a long day coming, so long I needed to start it at 4:45am to have any shot of getting everything done.  I try to fall asleep, to get just a little sleep but then she moans and thrashes.

 Her throat hurts. She’s freezing. She needs Kleenex.

She moans my name and asks why is this happening to her.  

I try to be nice. Soon enough it’s 1:30am, it’s 2am, its 2:30, its 3am and the pauses between her bouts of neediness are too short for even cat naps.  

She asks for more ice, more water, more ice water and I bring it to her, bleary, cranky, already wondering how I’m going to cover the Potsdam Conference in class and make any sense at all.

Don’t be mad at me, she sniffles and crescendos to a wailing proclamation of I need my Mom, and then her cries grow into heaving sobs.

Another day, another time I might have held her. 

But I feel parched inside,  burnt and empty like the desert.

I tell her unsympathetically that I”ll lay down on the other side of the sectional sofa, I’ll be right here but no niceness, that’s too much, the niceness is gone.

I don’t even like what I hear as it comes out of my mouth, but I’m that tired, that empty, that edgy these days.

 I tuck my head on a pillow and shut up, hoping to find a back door or a shortcut to a quick sleep.

She moans again and I get up to fix her. She’s burning up.  

I sit up and fix her blanket then move my blanket to cover her legs. 

She exhales peacefully and I lay back down on my side of the sofa. 

I find her foot with mine under the blankets and move it against her in an anemic demonstration of affection.
She lifts her head up in her fever and half whispers Thank you for the generosity of your toes.  I giggle forget to be cranky for a few minutes, just long enough to find my back to the my dreamless peaceful sleep.