THE BLOG

In Madrid as in Miami, Cubans Come Together as One People

Last Thursday I was in Havana without leaving Madrid. Thanks to the guitar of Boris Larramendi I took a little hop to the Island. A brief but intense return, on the wings of chords and a good musician. At a place in the Spanish capital we found a group of friends, some graduates from the Faculty of Arts and letters, but also former players in whatever musical groups existed in Cuba in the '90s. I felt at home, because right in the living room of our apartment we had one of these gatherings that we recalled the night before last. We remembered the lemon grass tea with a little sugar with which we restored our energy after carrying our bikes up 14 flights of stairs. But mostly, we recollected the good songs we had heard there, the space for freedom that we managed to create for at least a few hours.

Beyond the choruses and the rice with beans, I particularly enjoyed the reunion with my compatriots. Many of them are still trying to find their way in a Spain hit by the economic crisis and political questions. Some are unemployed, others illegal, several with children born here who don't know the country of their parents; all aware of what is happening in Cuba. Boris sang himself hoarse, and we clapped along until our palms were red and, already past midnight, humor took over and we reveled in jokes.

On one wall a TV showed images recorded on the streets of Havana. The Malecón and the corner of 23rd and L were a visual background accompanying our improvised "Guaracha" around two tables. At one point I realized that the recording that was passing across the screen was from a police security camera. But here this filtered surveillance material was just an amusing video in a space for entertainment. The official eye become banal; control converted into a frivolous daily report. But not even that could distract us from the most important thing happening in that room: the confluence. We were finding a point in common after a long journey and prolonged separation. We were more free than at any gathering in Havana and yet, we were still the fruit of all those Havana gatherings. A blessed past that we have waited for this morning.