Traveling / Uncategorized

Cuba; Day 11-Meeting Family

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.

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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!

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At the second cemetery, this little guy and I became friends:Image

When we were getting ready to head out, we ran into two rabbis and a group of people that all knew my family!  I actually don’t know who they are, but I know that they’re not related to me.Image

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!Image

Mechulan

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Juanito, Mechulan and his wife.Image

Juanito, Mom, Mechulan and his wife.Image

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.  ImageImage

The stuffed tomatoes were delicious!  We ate them with beans, rice, salad, plantains and bread.  Yum.  Oh, and guava with bread for dessert!Image

After our late lunch, mom, Pepe and I took a walk.  We headed in the direction of Pepe’s domino friends, briefly stopping to chat with one of his surgeons:Image

Just casually talking with the doctor…That never happens here!ImageImageImage

All of his friends were so nice, but we didn’t stay long.  We walked back to Yolanda’s…Image

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Stopped to buy some baby bananas!ImageImage

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!

The Last Supper was all beige!  Chicken and bulgur:Image

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.

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