Day 11 started bright and early because my mom’s cousin, Juanito was going to pick us up and take us to visit the graves of various family members. We scarfed down breakfast because Juanito and his daughter and her husband and son showed up earlier than planned. This was the first time I was meeting his daughter and grandson, which was really cool! My family seems so small at home, but it’s actually quite large- we’re just extremely spread out!
We had plans to visit a couple different cemeteries, but had some trouble finding the graves.
Check out the ancient book that is used to keep track of where each person is! It was ancient, but I guess the system works!
After the cemetery, we headed over to Mechulan’s house (I’m not sure that I spelled that correctly) – another distant cousin! It was the first time in over fifty years that mom had seen him. Mechulan is retired now, but he used to be a pediatric neurologist in Cuba and had a lot of influence on the Jewish community there. We met his wife, their son and their grandson. They actually live in Spain, but were visiting for a few weeks. We sat in their living room and talked for awhile. It was like a big family reunion with people that I have never met!
From left, top row: Roiner, Juanito’s daughter, her husband
From left, middle row: Michulan’s grandson, mom, Mechlan’s wife, Yolanda
From left, bottom row, Juanito, Mechulan’s son, Mechulan
Obviously, I didn’t catch a lot of their names. Maybe mom knows…?
We couldn’t stay too long because Juanito, Roiner and his daughter needed to get back to work, but it was really great to meet so many family members. I wish we could all have a family reunion!
They dropped us off at home, where mom immediately got started on making stuffed tomatoes. Pepe loves stuffed tomatoes, so mom agreed to make them for him before we left. Pepe had to go far and wide and pull strings in order to find parsley for them.
Since we had such a late lunch, we hung out a bit before sitting down to dinner. We all relaxed on the balcony for one last sunset before our departure the next day!
We relaxed for the rest of the night, soaking up the last few hours and packing our things. The day was so interesting and made me realize just how big my family is, although we aren’t all in one place.
The other thing that I realized today is the way that a seemingly insignificant amount of money in our lives can make a whole world of difference for the life of an average Cuban. While the average retired Cuban makes $12.00 a month, and a working Cuban making a little bit more, every day is a battle to make their money last, put food on the table and still be able to live in a decent way. I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that a mere $50.00 to $100.00 makes little difference in the lifestyle of the average American, yet it might guarantee food for a decent amount of time for a Cuban. The first time I went to Cuba, I got the impression that their wasn’t enough food for the Cuban population, but that’s completely wrong. While there isn’t the variety that we are accustomed to in the United States, there is plenty of food. The problem is there isn’t enough money. That puts a lot of things into perspective for me. When it comes down to it, family is all we have. We must take care of one another.