The beginning of a terrible story.

Today I want to talk about how I got to this country, Canada, which has given me the freedom to tell you now what you are about to read.579696_215547311887175_1210894756_n

A little after my 18 birthday back in August 2011 my visa was ready and I had with me a ticket to freedom, a ticket to Canada. My mom, my sister and I were ecxited and why wouldn’t we be? My father who was remarried had claimed my 14 years old sister at the time and myself. The hours waiting at the airport looked like days and the trip on the plane months.

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Finally! We are here and even though I couldn’t speak English watching the show “Friends” back home gave me the ability to tell the angry faced officers that I was a permanent resident and that my father was waiting for me behind one of those doors. Talking to them was not as scary as the intimidation I felt looking at the guards through the glass.

I moved on to the exit and there was my dad, with a huge smile in his face and my step mother was so nervous that she hold the camera for two hours but recorded nothing.

Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada: September 17, 2011.

Everything is so different, I quickly noticed we were going to be the only dark people in the block, and as it turned out we were the only dark people in the whole neighbourhood. Everything smelled different, like a new box of shoes. I remember looking outside and being so anxious to roam free and go to the mall, OH the mall! I was so ecxited to know what a real mall looked like. I was so happy to be able to shower with liquid body soap, the one that leaves your skin soft and radiant. I wanted to eat everything in the fridge, there where fruits of all kinds I had never seen, and chicken and pork and vegetables made in a way I had no idea how it came to be so tasty. So new, so shiny, so different than what I knew.

A few days after, me and my sister were going to high school attending ESL all morning and regular classes the rest of the day. I got involved in a group where I had the opportunity to teach salsa dancing and some Spanish to my classmates. Then the school dance came around and with it came Halloween. My Cuban body for the first time faced -30° weather with wind chill, and to be honest with you it felt nothing compared to what is coming next.

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The freezing winter was passing and so did happiness. I started to notice a strange behavior on my sister. Not far from that, the jealousy from my step mother towards us increased to the point that my dad had the brilliant idea to send us back to Cuba for good.

Since we were Cuban my dad was forced by the government just like any other Cuban to buy a back and forth ticket to prove that we were staying in the country for a limited time.

Disappointment and anger from my mom made me incredibly mad; the only option I had was to take my sister with me and use the ticket I had to come back. Since the flight was Havana- Toronto- Saint John, New Brunswick, we took the plane to Toronto and left the connection flight lane to Saint John NB. We had to run to grab our luggage before it was transfered to the next plane. Boy that was some adventure!

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My sister and I found ourselves standing in a train station that to my understanding was a connection to busses and taxis. Between the chaos and confusion a young man approached us and asked us if we knew where we were going. I looked for the words in my small vocabulary to answer his questions. I told him that we had no place to stay and that we had no idea what to do. He then proposed to take us with him and figure something out. After some calls he decided to drop us at a police station and from there a world of sacrifice, adventure and accomplishments began.

Growing up in the Island of Dreams, Cuba.

For many Cuba is the island of dreams, culture, nature, beautiful women and beautiful beaches. For a 10 year old girl that has to watch over her little sister is no more than responsabilities, fears, broken dreams and a far away hope.

Life in Cuba was like being an animal, any animal. Surviving day after day and collecting as much food as possible so others don’t take it.

I remember my mom having to exchange some of our clothes for food so we could eat something. I remember doing homework at 11:00 pm at my mom’s second job because her job as a gynecologist couldn’t pay for our basic needs. I also remember having to sell cookies at high school because it was a way of making money, and contribute to the house.

Cuba, this beautiful island that has many faces, but there is only a face Cubans know very well and can talk about only when they are far, far from it.

Cuba that beautiful island that also taught me how to be strong and positive. Thanks to the struggle, the hard work and constant positivism to keep my soul healthy and pure as a kid, I have become today this woman. A woman that doesn’t know what giving up means and that will fight for her dreams as long as is breathing.

Cuba made me see children prostitute themselves to feed their familiesdownload (2), and that music can cure any illness; the illness of loneliness, the illness of poverty, the illness of hunger, the illnes of hopelessness. In an Island so warm and colourful people can have cold hearts and dark souls, and sometimes take the colour from children’s lives. Is an Island with many faces and in the shadows, where Cuban children roam without a guide, many kids lose their innocence, and their inner freedom to be human.

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