I've always been fascinated by Cuba, fueled from stories told over a cold beer, by mysterious guys that have slipped in and out of the island. On a whim I snuck into Cuba in the fall of 2004. While exploring old Havana, I ran into a beautiful young schoolteacher. Meeting an 'Imperialist' was the last thing she wanted to deal with. But the "tsk" sound that came out of those full Cuban lips, and the dismissive wave of her hand was so sensual it only served as an aphrodisiac. My Spanish was limited to ordering a Chalupa at 'Taco Bell', but I teased her as she walked home until she relented and stopped for a Mojito.
Our relationship began as a holiday romance. There was an ease being with her, even with the cultural and language barriers. She, Adianec, spoke just four words of English: America, hello, Brad and Pitt.
Back home in California, I couldn't help but feel for her situation (living under oppression and poverty). I decided to make this my 'mitzvah,' and send her money every month. After a year of visits I realized that in spite of my armor, I had fallen in love.
We first began trying to get Adianec to America by legal means. Though Castro's regime encourages undesirables to leave, a schoolteacher with a master's degree is considered Cuban property. So we turned to the underground for help. Two years later all we had freed was my bank account. I decided to do it myself.
My 'foolproof' plan was to rent a boat out of Florida and head east, weave my way south through the Bahamas, then pass through the notorious Tongue of the Ocean and on into Cuba, an 900 plus mile trip.
Within 15 minutes of leaving the marina, an eight-foot wave slapped me off my feet. I was in a fight for my life and I had forgotten to put on a life preserver. The waves in the Gulf Stream continuously knocked me off my feet and spun the boat every way but east. I was taking in mouthfuls of warm salty water and vomiting with every roll. The sun dropped from the sky leaving me floundering in pitch-blackness, before my first stop -- Fresh Creek, Andros Island. The chart says, "Expert visual navigators should attempt this port only in perfect daylight conditions." Not too much of a stretch for a seasick novice.
I woke up before dawn and headed out through a maze of barrier reefs. With my GPS I made it onto the beach of Cayo Coco, Cuba late that afternoon. Twenty minutes later, I had a dozen very nervous guns pointed at me. I was put into a small shed to wait for the Cuban secret police. Hours later, Adianec was also arrested. We were interrogated for two days before I was sentenced to nine years in prison for human trafficking. In Cuba, an accusation is a conviction. I decided to use my best weapons, humor...and lying.
I had a small role in the movie Sideways, which, fortuitously, was due to open in Havana that month. I completely embellished my part in the film and for that matter, my entire importance in the Hollywood community. From the perimeter, I've experienced the privilege that celebrity brings. I had to convince them I was famous. Although back in America, no one, including my own mother, knew who I was. I embellished my lie with how this would be a huge PR nightmare for Cuba around the world. My point was if they could arrest and imprison one of the most beloved stars in Europe and America (they have no access to pop culture), how vulnerable would the average tourist feel?
We were released at 3 a.m. One of the top officials privately told us we were his "Romeo and Juliet." But, if we ever tried to break the law in Cuba again we would spend our lives "in solitaire."
I headed back alone, at 5 a.m., right into a cold front, with eleven-foot waves slamming into my boat. During a squall, I hit a barrier reef off Andros. As my boat began to sink good-hearted drug smugglers rescued me. Parts were flown over from Nassau, and they fixed my boat. I made it safely back to Lauderdale two days later, 15 pounds lighter with a dislocated shoulder.
Two months later, a smuggler sent word that he could get her to Antigua, 200 miles from the U.S. Virgin Islands. We would just have to bribe a couple of government officials. I was sold when he said "no money until she steps off the plane in Antigua." She did, I paid.
The next two and a half months were a series of more arrests as corrupt government officials, throughout the Caribbean, played their coy games until I paid them off. As we hop scotched the islands we dealt with some of the most frightening people and situations imaginable. In contrast, we also swam and played on beaches with sand and water beyond description, just as our love grew, beyond description.
On August, 17th 2006, Adianec walked through customs on the island of Tortola. Immigration had already been paid off, but they nevertheless called me demanding a hefty ransom. They believed I was back in L.A., but, because we had been warned that she might be kidnapped, we had a plan. I had rented a boat in St. Thomas, and was waiting just offshore of Tortola. She told her captors she had to use the restroom, and then enlisted a woman to help her escape. With her help, and God's grace, Adianec and I found each other on a small beach -- just as her captors had located her. I pulled her onboard and we sped to the U.S. Virgin islands and freedom. The greatest blessing of my life has been to be by her side for the past two years as she discovers her place in a free world. Our first child, a boy, is due later this spring.
Find out more at Stealingcastrosdaughter.com