Canadian Receives Unexpected Christmas Gift From Varadero, Cuba

Wilfredo Cancio Isla (Café Fuerte)

Emily Demello (right) next to her friends during a trip to Cuba at the end of 2011. This is one of the photos rescued by the Cuban scuba diver.
Emily Demello (right) next to her friends during a trip to Cuba at the end of 2011. This is one of the photos rescued by the Cuban scuba diver.

HAVANA TIMES — Emily Demello had never received such a special Christmas gift before.

Hers is a story that could well inspire a film with a happy ending about the benefits of the Internet and social networks in the global village our world has become, set in Cuba, which is only timidly connected to the web.

A message she received through Facebook at the end of November told her of an incredible find in Cuba, where Demello had lost her waterproof digital camera during her vacation three years ago.

The camera held dozens of photos and videos showing moments of her stay in Varadero beach, where a wave tore the device from her hands and plunged it to the depths of the sea. Demello had searched for the camera in the water for 20 minutes before desisting, forced to return to Canada without a visual testimony of her visit to the Caribbean.

A person who claims to be a professional scuba diver, named Ruben Urquiza, assured her he had found the camera and had salvaged the memory card.

A Stranger Calls

“At first I thought it was just a stranger wanting to be friends on Facebook but as I actually read [the message] I was freaking out,” Demello told CafeFuerte.

Urquiza managed to download over 100 photos from the rescued memory card, including a picture of Demello’s plane ticket, which was key to tracking her down on the Internet. When Urquiza managed to connect to the Internet, the first thing he did was send Demello the following message in English:

“‘Hi Emily, I am from Cuba, my name is Ruben. I know that you was in my country in 2012 because I am diver in Varadero and I found your camera on the beach, please accept me in your Facebook friends and I will send you your pictures! I am sorry for my bad English, have a nice Sunday!”

Following Demello’s response, the photos arrived at her mailbox in the blink of an eye – and just in time for the Christmas season.

“It was a great Christmas gift,” the 21-year-old Vancouver resident said. “He [Ruben] sent me the memory card by mail and I sent him a Christmas gift to thank him.”

CafeFuerte has tried to track down Urquiza but has yet to receive a reply. A Facebook profile with the name of Ruben Urquiza Azahares shows Havana’s Guanabo beach as the diver’s location.

Return to Varadero

This pleasant Christmas surprise has made Demello interested in returning to Cuba.

“I am definitely thinking of going back to Cuba,” she said. “My friends and I hope to have a reunion there soon, at the same resort in Varadero we went to in 2011/2012.”

Demello and her friends Madisen Singer and Hailey Olson traveled to Cuba from December 31 2011 to Janaury 7, 2012, the peak of the island’s high tourist season. During this time, thousands of Canadians flee from their country’s chilling cold, seeking refuge in the warm, Caribbean climate.

Demello is currently studying Marketing at Kwantlen College, located in Surrey, British Colombia, and works at TELUS Mobility, a Canadian cell phone company and Internet provider.

“It would be marvelous to be able to thank Ruben in person. There are people like Ruben, doing great things everywhere. It means a lot that he took the time to find me and send my pictures back to me. Nothing stays lost forever,” Demello said.

7 thoughts on “Canadian Receives Unexpected Christmas Gift From Varadero, Cuba

  • Well, although I agree that Moses usually throws in the wet towel over every little thing, I have to admit, when I read the story (before reading the comments), first thing I thought of was “what about the camera?” Even if it was destroyed buy the water, it could have been returned along with the camera card. Moses has a point. WHAT BECAME OF THE CAMERA???!!!!!!

  • I use voice software. You are right. Typo. 37 words wasted.

  • 37 words actually including the title Mr… Well said Wayne…

  • You just wasted 17 words to say nothing.

  • Mr Moses…..finally you get it…..asking yourself “did I miss something” ?……indeed you always miss something…..
    You get the part you you want…..and miss the part you either don’t see…..or don’t want to see

  • I would be happy just to get the card back. Plus after 3 years in the water I would be surprised if the camera even worked. Even a waterproof camera… Plus it did not say whether he mailed the card from Cuba, which I think would not be too possible. Let alone it was probably difficult enough to send 100 photos to her on Facebook from Cuba, given the slow connection speeds. I bet he probably asked a Canadian tourist heading home to put the card in the mail. And who knows maybe she just told him to keep the camera. Yes you did miss something. Don’t piss on a feel good story…

  • Did I miss something? Are we applauding the fact that Urquiza finds the waterproof camera but only returns the memory card to Demello? Wouldn’t the HONEST thing be to return both?

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