Intro to Cuba…

“Ok this is all going to hell in three seconds”,  I thought as I saw the airport official   hand over my passport to his partner for just a little too long to expect anything good. I should add that at the time I was carrying two passports; one Cuban and incidentally expired, and the other American. I had imagined that in a way, my American passport would be like wings upon my back. I remember that upon receiving it I felt I would be free to go anywhere in the world without the dramas of visas and “permisos de salida” associated with my old Cuban passport. The funny thing was that the only place I visited after was… Cuba, the one place that will never forgive my cubaness, and will play the stigmata forever by forcing me to travel with a Cuban passport in order to enter the country of my birth, but not without first requiring that I “habilitate” and “renovate” my Cuban passport at considerable expense and for ridiculously short periods of validation. I love the picture of myself in my first Cuban passport. I was young and fresh, and hadn’t known what credit card debt was yet.  I hated giving over that image of my youthful freshness to those bureaucratic maniacs. “No puede viajar con ese pasaporte”. I stayed behind in Miami denied passage to Cuba.  I know… Its hell.

A dear friend called me in the midst of the craziness. She mobilized her little family of brother and mother to rescue me. Teresa, my friend’s mother came to my rescue, offering me a port to ride out the storm of bad luck and a natilla de leche to die for Teresa put my soul to rest.  Teresa’s hair is very long, because she vowed years ago to never cut it until she could see her brothers in Cuba again.

I spent two days in Southern Florida.  In addition to Teresa’s kindness, I received many calls from sweet people both well known and not so well known by me, all answering the single facebook post I was able to post from my phone before I lost Internet accesses.  All of these people are a part of the Cuban chain of love and pain, beauty and wisdom. I’m grateful for a chance of a wonderful afternoon in the company of Ariana Fernandez Reguant and a nice descarga with the hermanas Silot. I’m grateful for that reserve of love and support in what might otherwise have been two wasted days in Miami.

Posted by Yesenia Fernandez — MA Candidate at CLACS at NYU

Published by Yesenia Selier

Cuban-born performer and researcher Yesenia Seller is the recipient of fellowships from CLACSO, Cuban Heritage Collection, the Díaz-Ayala Cuban and Latin American Popular Music Collection and Tinker Foundation. Her work on Afro-Cuban culture, encompassing dance, music, and racial identity, has been published in Cuba, the United States, Colombia, and Brazil. Yesenia has worked alongside artists like Teresita Fernandez, Coco Fusco, Septeto Nacional de Cuba, Jane Bunnett, Wynton Marsalis, Chucho Valdés, Pedrito Martinez, Román Diaz. She wrote and produced the theater play “ Women Orishas” for Miami Cuban Museum (2013); the show “Cuba en Clave” for the New York Cuban Cultural Center (2014); the performance-procession "Día de Reyes" at Madison Square Park (2015); the performance "Oshun-Inform" in Washington Square Park (2016); “Love Vibration”, Queens Museum (2017); “Nigra Suns” at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (2018); "Indigo" (2019). Yesenia is currently a doctoral candidate in the Department of Media, Culture, and Communication, at New York University.

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