Mi Pequeño Rincón de Cuba

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It was difficult to know where to begin this series on our recent 8-week visit to Cuba. We go every year, usually for 2 months, and although there are many wonderful places in Cuba to visit, there’s only one little corner of the country that draws us back every year. It’s here, in a small, seemingly forgotten village at the end of a long and bumpy dirt road, where our hearts yearn to be all year long, and where precious faces and dear hearts wait to welcome us in with open arms and the most compassionate generosity I’ve ever known in my entire life.

So do I begin with the history of how my husband’s family first stumbled across this place over 20 years ago? Do I begin with disclaimers and pleas for understanding that everyone’s reasons for visiting Cuba are different, and so everyone’s experiences are different, and that no two tourists or travelers will ever experience Cuba in exactly the same way and that that’s okay? I’ve encountered so many other people who travel to the same resorts that we’ve visited and who claim to “know” all about Cuba and then challenge me on what we’ve experienced firsthand in the teeniest nooks and crannies of rural villages where many tourists won’t dare or care to venture. Each person’s experience is valid and real – and different…that doesn’t make any of those experiences “wrong”, it just is what it is. My experiences in “mi pequeño rincón de Cuba” (my little corner) are mine. And that’s the piece of Cuba I want to share here in this series.

And so let me begin with Lily.

Lily lives way down at the end of that long and dusty road, around the bend, and another bend, then further along another long and rocky road, then along an uneven but well-worn path, through the rickety old wire gate and inside the small house hidden behind another small house. To a newcomer, it could be a daunting trek into an unfamiliar poverty, but to me, it’s the path to the warmest, richest place on earth. My heart beats faster as I let myself through the gate and pick my way past the jagged rocks until finally, warm loving arms reach out and draw me into the circle of a family who has become my own.

Lily is the newest member of that family. When we first arrived in early February, Lily was so weak that she could hardly stand up by herself. A constant onslaught of colds had weakened her immunity system, and she had just been diagnosed with anemia. As joyous as our family reunion was that day, it was overshadowed by the worry on Lily’s mother’s face and the faces of so many others in that house.

We went back to our hotel wondering what we could do to help. Although we had brought over 80 kg of luggage with us, we hadn’t brought any children’s medications this year (I’ve always been too afraid to bring them into a culture that doesn’t use strong meds on small children…I’ve always had a deep terror of causing any damage to any of these precious little bodies).

Later that week, other friends in another village gifted us with two enormous bottles of honey. We brought one out to Lily’s village to share with our family, and when they all saw this huge bottle of honey, they were ecstatic…unbeknownst to us, Lily’s doctor had recommended adding small amounts of honey to her diet, but nobody in the village had any honey…and so when we walked in with a 2-litre bottle of it, well, it was nothing short of a miracle.

Over the next couple of weeks, we could see Lily becoming slowly but surely stronger. But those colds and fever still persisted. So when we got back to the hotel after one of our visits, I got on the Internet and emailed a friend who was arriving at the same hotel the following Friday, and I begged her to bring some infant vitamins with her. This wonderful woman arrived with a whole arsenal of vitamins and meds for that child, leaving behind some of her own clothing and gifts in order to fit them into her suitcase. On Sunday, we rushed the vitamins out to Lily’s mother, who was overcome with gratitude – and hope. When we went back on Wednesday, we couldn’t believe the difference! After just a few days on those vitamins, Lily’s cold and fever (which she’d had for over 2 months at that point) had completely disappeared, and she was running around, laughing and playing like any normal 14-month old child! The joy of seeing her daughter healthy and active shone through her mother’s eyes.

It was a really good homecoming!

And so that’s how I’ve decided to start this series about our experiences in our little corner of Cuba this year. The history and disclaimers can wait…I thought Lily deserved the first chapter.

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Copyright © Sharon C. Matthies, Meanderings (blog), 2013. All rights reserved.

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About Sharon

I love to write. I love to write myself into being right here right now. Writing releases something in me that needs wings, writing opens doors and windows that I often don't even realize are possible, writing helps me breathe out the dusty old, and to breathe in the new and possible. My hope is that maybe writing here in this blog will bring new light into these dusty old hallways and help me to clear out the thinking processes and mindsets that just don't work for me anymore. I seek to breathe new light and life into the nooks and crannies of a soul that has been feeling somewhat lost and frayed because of the last few patches of road I've had to travel.
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5 Responses to Mi Pequeño Rincón de Cuba

  1. You are such an inspiration, Sharon!

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    • Sharon says:

      Thank you, Ruth…just paying forward all the help that others have given to me all along the way…and living out in my own life the inspirational examples that others have lived out in their lives, my Boomer sisters included!!

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  2. Angelika says:

    What you give, you get 10-fold back. This story is another proof of that. No tropical beach or south sea island can warm as much as having a loving family or friends around you. What a touching story, and seeing Lily’s smile,…well she just wins one over.

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    • Sharon says:

      Thanks Angelika…I have so many pictures of Lily this year…some of them are so comical…I’ll have to do a whole blog of just Lily pictures soon. And I agree about the warmth that can only come from family. Cuba was actually very coolish this year, temperature wise…but we hardly noticed because we were so warmed by the loving family and friends everywhere we went this year.

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  3. Pingback: Praying for Lily | Meanderings

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