My Good Friend Manuel

HAVANA TIMES – From the moment I set foot in the United States, I felt like a blind man not knowing where to go or how to organize my immigration status.

I knew that to start, I needed a work permit and a social security number, but I had no idea where to go to get them.

I found myself in a different city, bustling, full of cars speeding down its highways, and me on foot, not knowing how to get around, depending on my sponsor who is hardly ever home and spends most of his month in other states transporting goods.

I was literally alone, slowly finding my way in the dark.

Every evening the gym became a refuge, not only to train my body but also to relieve the stress of a new place and the nostalgia for a Cuba that, despite everything, is my homeland, where I left behind a life, many memories, and loved ones who are always present, especially my daughter.

There at the gym I met Manuel, a man with coppery skin and indigenous features who turned out to be of Peruvian origin.

From the beginning, we had good chemistry, helped by ideological coincidences and similar thoughts on many topics.

Manuel offered to help me. He has been an US citizen for 22 years.

He took me to Lutheran’s Service, an NGO of the Lutheran church based in Florida that is dedicated to guiding and helping immigrants in obtaining work permits, residency, job searches, course offers, and other services.

Not only did he take me in his car, but thanks to him, I also learned to get around the city using bus routes and to find some temporary jobs while I wait for the legal permit to work.

We have coincided often in the afternoons and sit on a dock by a lake, embarking on long conversations about any topic.

We have talked about Peru, Fujimori, the Shining Path, Vargas Llosa, and the Apus, the high gods of the Andes mountains according to ancestral beliefs.

Through him, I learned that Bolivar is not so popular or loved in Peru.

We talked about the United States and the victimhood and resentment of many Latin Americans against this great country.

He knew about the tough situation in my country, Cuba, but when I tell him the details, he can hardly believe my words.

Every now and then, his phone greeting is a welcoming joke, “Viva la Revolución,” he says, and I can’t help but laugh at his accent.

Manuel is one of those friends life gifts you in crucial moments.

Read more from Pedro Pablo Morejon’s diary here.

Pedro Morejón

I am a man who fights for his goals, who assumes the consequences of his actions, who does not stop at obstacles. I could say that adversity has always been an inseparable companion, I have never had anything easy, but in some sense, it has benefited my character. I value what is in disuse, such as honesty, justice, honor. For a long time, I was tied to ideas and false paradigms that suffocated me, but little by little I managed to free myself and grow by myself. Today I am the one who dictates my morale, and I defend my freedom against wind and tide. I also build that freedom by writing, because being a writer defines me.

2 thoughts on “My Good Friend Manuel

  • Pedro, I’ve always enjoyed your writing. Now that you’re in the US, I especially love your opinions of a newly-immigrated Cuban in Florida. I hope you continue to compare your homeland with the USA. It really IS fascinating reading!

  • Beautiful story Pedro, well done!

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