I am rearranging and changing my life to help people in Cuba, and it is changing me. I'm learning to look at the mountaintop and climb, to not worry about potential obstacles and to just keep moving forward along the unfolding path. I never know what's around the next bend but I'm eager to see.
So far in this unexpected journey, the light has been brighter, the scenery more beautiful and the people more wonderful than I ever imagined. My life has already been enriched in many ways and I've been blessed by many new friendships and offers of support for the projects I have begun – and I've only just begun, to paraphrase a scrap of a song that will likely float around in my brain for the rest of the day.
One recent, pleasant surprise has been a new friend by the name of Leony. I'm not sure I ever met him but he invited me to be his Facebook friend because I looked vaguely familiar. He worked briefly at Club Amigo Marea del Portillo a few years ago and thought he had seen me there. I was sceptical and hesitated to accept his friendship but curiosity got the best of me, as it often does. (Perhaps I was a cat in another life!)
At first, we "chatted" occasionally about the weather and such mundane things. He struggled to write in my language but his English is better than my Spanish, so we communicated as well as we could. Time lapsed.
This summer has been extraordinarily busy for me, so I have developed a blitzkrieg style of Facebooking...zooming in and reading what I can, "liking" things that catch my eye, haphazardly updating my status and commenting on friends' posts but interacting only through the message function. Since I have not had my green light on, signaling I was available to chat, Leony sent me messages instead. I responded in kind and, gradually, we've become better acquainted.
When I told him I worked part-time at a shelter for abused women, his reply surprised and impressed me. Here is an excerpt: "...violence is a worldwide phenomenon that affects a lot to the women, above all, so I think, because women do not always find the courage to denounce their perpetrators and then suffer double violence, beatings they receive and the silence in a kind of psychological violence...." Wow!
When I suggested he read this blog, he promptly checked it out and responded. This is part of what he said: "...you're doing great by Pilon, I'm really excited, really you're a Cuban heart, as you aptly titled [your] blog...You, like me, [are] in the group who believe that a better world is possible. How good [that] you are undertaking a work of infinite love...I congratulate you for that...I was born there and still feel great love for my homeland...." He went on to offer his support for me and my endeavors.
I responded with a lot of wows and exclamation marks, explaining that I was blown away by his kind words. He then said this: "...I'm just an honest man who says what he thinks and feels. I also feel honored that you accepted my friendship on FB...what is essential is invisible to the eye, [so] we must look with the heart...Thank you in advance for considering me your friend."
One day, we will meet. He no longer lives in Pilón, next door to Marea del Portillo; he lives and works in Varadero, many hours away. I have no plans to visit there, since my focus is on the southern foot of the island. But, the way my journey up the mountainn is progressing, I'm sure our physical paths will cross when the time is right. For now, the virtual intersection is interesting and uplifting!
Life is like a bowl of jelly beans that I'm eating one at a time. I keep getting new flavors I never imagined, and I'm savoring each one.
This blog's title means "Cuban-hearted woman" (very loosely translated!). I settled on this name because it had a nice ring to my unschooled ear and, more importantly, because I think the Cuban people seem to have so much heart, and they're in my heart for that reason. In general, the people I've met in Cuba are quite consistently open-hearted and big-hearted in the way they relate to each other or to visitors in their beautiful land. A piece of my heart now resides in Cuba, with the warm, wonderful friends I've made there. This blog is not intended to be a guide to Cuba, just a forum for my eclectic bits of writing – poetry, opinion pieces and information gleaned from my personal experience and reading.