My New Reality

HAVANA TIMES – The passengers applauded when the plane landed. I imagine many of them were relieved, especially since before we left Havana they read us an entire protocol about rescue in case of an accident.

As we entered the airport, we were pointed to three different lines: US Citizens, US residents, and those arriving with humanitarian parole. The last step before being admitted into the United States awaited me.

There were some 40 of us, all of us in a special room, waiting anxiously to be called. At those moments, the immigration officials seemed like all-powerful gods that could decide your destiny.

“Pedro Pablo Morejon,” I heard a voice calling me in the accented Spanish typical of native English speakers. I was already among the last. I went up to the booth and was received by a smiling official. He barely asked any questions, only examined my documents, took my fingerprints, and consulted with a colleague, both casting glances at me as they talked. After a while, he came up to me, handed me a document and said: “Welcome, Pedro!”

I walked out to pick up my luggage. A group of bags was going around on a belt, but mine didn’t appear. I began feeling stressed, until the idea hit me to walk over and check another area, where I found it.

After that, I didn’t know what to do. My cellphone wouldn’t connect to the airport’s wi-fi. I followed a group of recent arrivals, to an elevator. We went up and got on a train that took us to a large reception area.

“Do you speak Spanish?” I asked a man who turned out to be Cuban. He very kindly let me use his cellphone, and in ten minutes my sponsor had arrived to pick me up.

That first night was completely overwhelming. He took me to a restaurant, where I could barely eat. I wasn’t hungry, I felt like a character in a video game, everything around me totally unreal, and the only touch of truth the video calls to my partner and my daughter.

Real and very emotional, especially with my daughter. The fact of knowing that she was there behind a screen, without being able to embrace her, knowing that I won’t see her for a long time.

My new home.

We arrived at what was to be my new home – an apartment in a condominium in the northwest part of the city. That night, I could hardly sleep. The next morning, I got up to be taken around the area. Beginning at that moment, the idea began sinking in that I was in the United States of America – nothing more, nothing less.

“That’s where the harsh reality began.  For everyone who throws themselves into the somersault of surviving outside your language, your customs and your identity.”

Those lines from a Willy Chirino song took on true significance for me. Especially since I wasn’t in Miami, where the Cuban and Latino community is the majority, and Spanish is the most common language.

I find myself in a city in Florida, where the Hispanic population, although growing, is just a little over 25%.

Despite those inconveniences, I like this country, where order coexists in total harmony with freedom. This country with individual spaces, educated people, and streets that are clean and well paved; with markets overflowing with products, and respect for animals.

A total contrast, whose reality I’m still absorbing.  

Read more from the diary of Pedro Pablo Morejon 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.