My Brother’s First Experience Outside Cuba

Jorge Milanes

Street in Quito, Ecuador
Street in Quito, Ecuador

HAVANA TIMES — Last weekend, my dear brother traveled to Ecuador on an invitation from his son (who decided to chase his dreams outside of Cuba).

Early in the morning, the insistent ring of the telephone woke us up. When I picked up the receiver, he greeted me and said:

“I had a good trip. I just got up.” He seemed excited.

“It’s mighty cold here. From my window, I can see just how high Quito is. It’s so high up that you can see planes fly by here. I can even see clouds beneath me.”

My mother and I listened attentively. We know this old guzzler only thinks about food, and in big servings.

“Yesterday afternoon, my son and I strolled down some of the streets of this wonderful city. The first thing I noticed was that the cars are very modern, the stores are filled with things and, most importantly, the food is cheap.” He emphasized this last bit.

“They have everything here,” he added, “but it’s too expensive. As for the food, I have to get as much of it as I can while I’m down here, try everything. In fact, in a single day, I’m eating what I would eat in Cuba in the course of a week.”

“What about the bicycle?” I asked him. Before traveling, my brother had had to sell his bicycle to have a bit more money for his trip.

He paused, then continued:

“Luna, my daughter-in-law, bought me one. I named it “The Ship”. You can imagine how happy I am with it. In fact, you’re gonna eat your heart out when I show it to you in Cuba. Don’t forget I came here on a mission. I’ve already planned the foundations of the big house they’ll live in. My son’s already picked up some of Luna’s more demanding taste, they’re sparing no expense.”

My mother had visited France, on an invitation from my sister. There, she saw things, things which made an impression on her and weren’t exactly to her liking. Bold as brass, she asked:

“Son, what is it you don’t like over there?”

“Tati,” he said affectionately, “I wouldn’t stay here for anything in the world. I love my country, my people, my beaches. Plus, there are many homeless people and children asking for money on the street. It’s one of the things that gets to me every time we go out.”

Hearing this, my mother replied:

“I’d like to know who is the rich person that has taken pity on you.”