By Maria Sabourin-Jovel
I am from where the sun shines bright and high most of the year.
I am from where there is no snow and being freezing cold means a temperature of 15 degrees.
I am from where beaches go forever with clean pristine waters and the white warm sand burns your feet.
I am from where music plays loudly and proudly everywhere one goes.
I am from where kids learn to dance even before they can walk.
I am from where women walk like
if they were dancing with their bright tight clothes accentuating each curve.
I am from a land of proud happy people for whom music is almost God.
I am from where having many friends matters more than having money.
I am from where strangers talk to each other easily.
I am from where a friend is a brother or a sister and family friends are uncles or aunts.
I am from where neighbours are part of the family.
I am from where one lives in the now and mañana ya veremos que pasa (1).
I am from where one works just enough, so that one can enjoy life and party later.
I am from where joy is not a luxury but a necessity.
I am from where people enjoy life to the fullest and feel proud of having eaten a lot.
I am from where one smiles and jokes so often that one forgets the poverty one lives in and that there is not much to be happy about.
I am from where everyone is welcomed and greeted with a smile, a kiss on the cheek, or a warm hug.
I am from where people are emotional, speak loudly, and with their hands.
I am from where men sit on corners
playing dominoes and “piropeando” (2) every female that passes by.
I am from where people do not plan to visit or call ahead to ask if they can drop by.
I am from where time is not taken seriously and five minutes can mean an hour or more.
I am from where one brings anyone along to a party without asking permission.
I am from a land where a white man and a black man call each other brothers, until the black man’s son falls in love with the white man’s daughter.
I am from a land where racism still exists everywhere but most will negate it.
I am from a land where everyone has a bit of Congo or Carabalí (3), even if they do not acknowledge it .
I am from a land in which people follow Catholic traditions and the Yoruba religion, just because it is better to have the protection of both than just one of them.
I am from a small island that stood proudly against one of the strongest countries in the world.
I am from a land where democracy has been a luxury for generations.
I am from a land where foreigners are treated like royalty and welcomed with open arms.
My body may be far away from this magical island,
but my heart is always there,
in Cuba, with my happy people,
the bright sun and the music that warms my heart and erases my pain.
I am a proud Cuban Queen and I have never ever wanted to be from anywhere else.
- We will see tomorrow what happens
- Two main African tribes from where slaves were brought to Cuba