The Ocean and Us

I had almost finished writing my August editorial, in which I recounted my meeting with Tamara, a honey-skinned, curly-haired Cuban woman who followed her heart one day 11 years ago, woke up in Rome and still has not found her return ticket, when our editorial director subtly reminded me that this month’s edition of OnCuba was devoted to the ocean. 

I set aside your story, Tamara (she is one of our readers), and right away, without putting up the slightest resistance, I climbed into my time machine and went back to a past drenched in blue, where the fragrant sea breeze was an organic remedy for my asthma attacks and the waves decorated my childish dreams with salty spray. It was a childhood of uninterrupted perfection. Our little bodies were half-amphibian, and only the threat of punishment could bring them out of the water and onto dry land. 

August for me was synonymous with beach. It was the month when my whole family would come from Havana to spend summer vacation on the beach. Without any embarrassment or complexes, we would throw ourselves down on the fine, white sand and then wash off it all off with a dip in the ocean. We spent unforgettable nights under the moon with guitars and maracas in hand, shaken to the beat of a son or bolero. They are memories that still mellow down those arrhythmic moments that sometimes perturb me, such as the day when my mother decided we would cross the ocean to emigrate, temporarily interrupting those melodic boleros that we used to sing to the rhythm of the waves.

Many years have gone by since that devotion to the sea that provoked my family’s mass migration to Varadero; those hot, dripping August days that filled the beaches with local and foreign tourists alike. While I no longer ride the waves like I used to, the ocean is still essential for me, and its pure, healthy air forever liberated me of those unbearable asthma attacks. 

It is worth noting here that this edition of OnCuba devoted to the sea took me by surprise. Tamara’s article was set aside (for now), but I am sure that she, too, is grateful for having been born on a piece of land surrounded by the warm waters of the Caribbean, with a perfect climate and a privileged geographical location, as if Zeus himself had situated us as a final gift, a gesture that is impossible to go unnoticed.

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