Today I am twice as old as I was in 1993, when I began taking care of myself and decided to leave home. I gave up the protection, the hot food—or rather the joke of food, because it was the worst moment of the Special Period*—the minimum financial support that my parents could offer me and the shield they formed between the hardness of the street and my adolescent dreams. Loaded with a bird cage, a pile of books and my only change of clothes I launched myself without a net, looking for that independence which even today I’m obsessed with.

This September 4, I will already have spent half my life being responsible for my actions. In this time I have learned to value autonomy, to distrust the subsidies and all these “gifts” that they constantly throw in the faces of citizens. I enjoyed and suffered from having to answer for what I did and not being able to take refuge in the phrase, “I don’t know, ask my mom.” After many setbacks, I’ve come to understand that my true home is shaped like an Island and that from this, at least, I don’t think of leaving and slamming the door behind me. I already walked out once with my belongings on my back, now—that I am twice as old—I have to stay.

Theme song: “Life is a divine script.” Grupo Habana Abierta (Open Havana Group)

Translator’s note
Special Period: A time of severe economic hardship after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the loss of its support to Cuba.


20 thoughts on “34

  1. Concubi!!!! I was traveling this week end, that is why I’m just coming back now!!!

    Catchers?,,,we had a lot of them!!!for example:

    Ricardo Lazo, Ramón Echeverría (Oriental), Lazaro Perez (very good arm!!!), Jesus Jufré, Alberto Martinez, Juan Castro, Evelio Hernandez, Orestes Kindelan, and of course Pedro Medina.

    Anonimo: About the pitcher issue for Capiro and Montejo I did write from the beginning that both “Started” as pitchers, but that was something very short, may be they played a couple games and that was it!!!!,,,,and about my age?,,,don’t worry, may be I’m a million time in a better shape than you, even with being 10 years younger than me as you stated!!!


  2. 16
    Septiembre 5th, 2009 at 22:53
    The best pitchers in the 60s Aquino Abreu, Jose Antonio Huelga both with no hits no rums in theirs records and both from Las Villas, Changa Mederos (La Habana), Ricardo Alarcon (Oriente).
    Armando Capiro one of the bests sluggers of Habana team….. he had problems with gaming “taco”….. “Taco” is a street “sport” where only the pitcher and the hitter plays and the hitter uses as bate a 4 feet long and one inch diameter steak and the pitcher uses as “ball” a segmente of the same steak used as bate but only one and half inches long. The public uses to bet and it uses to do the players too. Betting is illegal and Capiro seems to have a dependence problem with this “sport”.

  3. Candido: last comment was mine i mentioned every position player I did not mention any catchers I remember Pedro Medina, but I know that there were a few before him , Did you remember any names?

    Ian: the food in your facebook pictures look delicious..Hope John Bibb likes it too

  4. Candido:

    I remember Capiro as LF , Silvio Montejo , nico jimenez Cf, Owen blandino 3B, pedro jova , rodolfo puente ss,Felix isasi , Urbano Gonzalez 2B, Marquetti and antonio munoz 1B, Manuel Hurtado , Wilfredo Ruiz Changa Mederos Pitchers and many many others aH! enrique Oduardo RF
    Capiro’ and Montejo pitchers? in previous posts you mentioned that, but i don’t remember, well you are a decade older than me, so by law you know better…LOL

  5. Concubino:

    I did read the Miami Herald article, it was incredible to know that Capiro’s daughter is free and will be able to go on with her life,,,but free!!!!.

    Every time I knew , that any athlete was able to escape and is ready to go on with his life as a free person, for me is something incredible and nobody knows how happy I’m when I know about it.

    Capiro, was one of the best hitters in his days and it is true that his arm was very powerful, remember, he started as a Pitcher!!!!. It is very sad that him, was not able to play in the majors-like too many- but, at least he can be proud that his daughter is free and will be able to accomplish her dreams.

    There is another similar case, it was Silvio Montejo from “Las Villas” who started as a Pitcher but ended as a Center Field, they both were more or less the same age and the same stage playing in Cuba’s National Series.
    Thanks for the article.


  6. I’d certainly try conga stew; we eat eels all the tine here in England. In Colombia, I insisted on sampling guinea pig – locally called cuy, as I recall – much to the dismay of my friends at the university: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=292274&id=898850122&l=5d34a38aaa
    Chavez is accelerating down the Cuban route. His embargo on Colombian exports is superfluous as the dairy producers haven’t been paid for months and have stopped supplying. Colombia provides half the meat he imports but he’s unlikely, without dollars, to get more from them or any other source. How like his “wise grandfather”!

  7. Hola John,
    Bro you gotta try a jutia conga stew prepared by cuban guajiras.If don’t like it, good , more for me…. How about frog legs ? Have you try it? or horse meat?. This the cuban version of jerk beef.In Spanish is call “tasajo”.All those kinds of meats are healthier than beef, which, by the way,I like it a lot.Filet Mignon is my favorite.

  8. ***
    HI CONCUBINO–when I was in the U.S. Army I ate (and threw away!) a lot of “mystery meat” dinners–most bad. The cook sergeant told us we should eat them because there were many starving people in the world. I told him to send them the bad food–we couldn’t eat it.
    You are welcome to my Jutia dinner. Enjoy! I want a good beefsteak–like Castro gets.
    HOLA CONCUBINO–cuando estuve en el Ejercito U.S. comi (y tire a la basura!) muchas cenas de “carne misterioso”–la mayoria malas. El sergento de los cocineros nos dijo que debianos comerlos porque estaban muchos pobres en el mundo muriendo de hambre. Le dije a mandarlos la comida mala–no podemos comerlo. Yo quiero una buena bistec–como recibe Castro.
    Usted puede tener mi cena de Jutia. A Gusto!
    John Bibb

  9. YOANI, Happy Birthday, Flaka
    Reading your Blog gives me hope that Cuba has a better future.Thank you for sharing your world with us. Thank you Translators, you guys rock.

  10. My Cuban parents also had to leave their home,thier country,with no belongings or money,and head to a new land with a new language in pursuit of Life with liberty. God Bless them and GOD Bless the USA. Cuba today still produces the same imigrants for the same reason.Enough is enough, the truth about Cuba is now known. Time for change.

    Evertything has to change when Castro die. al Fin, cuba libre

  11. Happy Birthday Yoani! My youngest daughter was also born on September 4. We both hope to be in Cuba next year to see my mother’s home country.

    Thank you Yoani for providing insight into what life is like for Cubans today.

  12. ARTICLE:Cuban dissidents welcome U.S. easing of restrictions

    Havana, Sep 4, 2009 “Catholic Church leaders and dissidents in Cuba expressed support for the U.S. government’s easing of a decades-old embargo on the Caribbean island, but state-run media here have not yet published news of the change in Washington’s regulations.”



  13. ***
    Happy birthday Yoani–you are a brave Cuban patriot.
    I remember the “special period” from National Geographic Magazine. A farmer showed the JUTIAS (BIG 20 POUND RATS!) the government had him raising so the Cuban People could get more (RAT!) protein in their diets. I don’t think the Castro Brothers ate any rats–they ate beefsteak!
    A lot of the photos of Cuban People seem to show malnutrition–in many children.
    Feliz compleanos Yoani–estas una valiente patriota Cubana.
    Recuerdo el “periodo especial” de la revista National Geographic. Un agricultor enseno los JUTIA’S (RATONES GRANDES DE 9 KILOS!) que el govierno Cubano ordeno que leventaria para que la Gente Cubano puderian tener mas (RATA!) proteina en sus dietas. Ni creo que los hermanos Castros comieran ningunas ratones–comieran bistec!
    Muchos de los retratos de Gente Cubanos parescan ensenar mal nutricion–en muchos ninos.
    John Bibb

  14. Yoanis I wish you a Happy Birthday, and, what else I can say? Just go on don’t give up!!!!!

    Thanks god it was September 4, can you image if that happens on September 28?!!!!

    That could be a date to forget!!!!,,or may be to change it , exactly as when somebody born on February 29!!!!!

    I’m just joking!!!! I wish you a very wonderful Happy Birthday!!!!


  15. I wanna be the first one to wish a Happy Birthday to Yoani in the Spanish section ,but someone called Pazo was First and then second.I was third. Here I’m gonna be the FIRST ONE.
    So here I go:
    Happy Bithday Yoani!. Hope you have a great day in the company of your husband Reinaldo, your son Teo and the rest of your family and friends.Celebrate BIG!!. You deserve it!.

    Maybe you can share the message that I’m posting below with then. I recieved it today. I would like to pass to you and others., which by the way it goes very well with your post.

    An economics professor at a local college made a statement that he had never failed a single student before,
    but had once failed an entire class.


    That class had insisted that Obama’s socialism worked and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer.

    The professor then said, “OK,
    we will have an experiment in this class on Obama’s plan”.

    All grades would be averaged and everyone would receive the same grade so no one would fail and no one would receive an A.

    After the first test, the grades were averaged and everyone got a B.
    students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy.

    As the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too so they studied little.
    The second test average was a D!
    No one was happy.

    When the 3rd test rolled around, the average was an F.

    The scores never increased as bickering,
    blame and name-calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else.

    All failed, to their great surprise, and the professor told them that socialism would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great but when government takes all the reward away, no one will try or want to succeed.

    Could not be any simpler than that.

    (Please pass this on) The Professor is a Genius

    If somebody is unable to understand THIS explanation, I have serious doubts about their ability to even function in society, much less run our country!

    As the late Adrian Rogers said, “you cannot multiply wealth by dividing it..”

    This one is coming from one of my american friends:

    “When you are young if you are not in the left you have no Heart, When we are old if we are not in the right we have no brains!!”

    That goes very well with those colleges students as well..

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