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Monday, August 8, 2011

Oh the Cubanity !!!!(Part 4) Talk to Maylady

Any trip to Cuba by a Miamian is filled with anxiety and ambivalence. No other people have endured the amount of whacked out cold war propaganda that people of this city have. Only here does calling someone a Communist get a bigger rise than insulting someone's mother.  But I believe as a fourth generation Miamian, that you can't really know Miami, unless you go to Cuba.  You can't really understand the "lost dream" of the Cuban exile until you go there yourself.  How can I, as an Anglo, possibly understand the heartbreak,  Tia Nona's packed suitcases(for 25 years until her death), the dysthymia that affects the exile community unless I go there myself. Anyone who has spent any time here hears the stories of loss, the courage of escape and endless hope of someday returning to reclaim what might be one's birthright.  I'm going to meet my Cuban family, the one I married into, and by extension much of the pain and heartbreak that affects the exiles that live in my beloved Miami. 

But first, I need to get out of Miami.  I am traveling on Sky King Airways, which I remember as a child was some guy who flew around in a twin-engine Cessna herding cattle with Penny and Clipper. Yeah, he herded cattle in a plane, a very small one. I'm regretting remembering that show, and hoping I'm not the "cattle" that's going to be herded.  Prior to last Thursday, I had no idea that "Sky King" had grown into an international airline with daily flights herding cattle from Miami to Havana. When I get to the airport, I need to go to find Maylady, which I had to have the name repeated and spelled out several times to me. The Spanish pronunciation for Maylady is Mee-LAD-ee, which of course is obvious to anyone who speaks Cuban but not me. Maylady is a third cousin and will be handling everything. Everyone keeps saying "No preocupe Maylady cuidarĂ¡ de todo." So I won't worry because Maylady will take care of everything. 

There are very strict guidelines. The night before its recommended I take a Xanax "to take the edge off".  I  must show up to the airport at least four hours before the flight. I must weigh-in myself and my bags.  I must not exceed 60 pounds in weight. Last minute requests are still coming in: Baby bottles, a guitar stand, Yankees Caps and Rum. Rum? My husband has asked for an air conditioner too if possible....he hasn't felt any since last week. Friends recommend I take toilet paper and wet wipes, I asked why, "trust us" is the reply. Besides how much can toilet paper possible weigh? I am indulging a friend's recommendation to go to the "botanica" on 17th and do the following: "Ok...so Chango loves rum, Obatala prefers white doves and Ochun will accept honey and borachitos. get thee to the Botanica and pay homage. 17 ave and 17 street has a great one...this consultation is free. "

Ok, so this local boy, is going there to pay homage to Chango, Obatala Ochun, and other deities, not for my fascination with Cuba, but for my love of Miami.  Wish me luck.