Chronicles de España


We landed in Madrid at 7:20 am. Our refugee’s passports raised the eyebrows of the Spanish immigration officer, but they concluded that Belén’s American passport offered enough legality for the three of us.

I feel so at home here. I guess there is something to be said for La Madre Patria. I have a very severe case of Europhilia. Like the poet Julian del Casals, I would have voted for Cuba to be annexed to France back in the day. On the other hand, it also feels like home because, like in the U.S., everyone in the service sector has a foreign accent. The pool boy is Colombian. The cashier is Ecuadorian – which launched us into the familiar real of “my husband is from Ecuador. Are you from the Costa or the Sierra?” as if I could tell the difference. The cleaning lady, the baby sitters I cross on the streets while on my daily run (I’m writing the Sunday post on Wednesday…Madrid is too hot for daily blogging.), the baggage carriers. So, I guess the South is indeed in full fledge reconquista, but somehow we start from the bottom…supposedly on the way up.

Belén and Carmen have soon discovered they do not speak Spanish. This made Belén grateful for the Escuela Argentina of every Saturday, but made Carmen conclude that she would speak Spanish just fine, thank you, if she were living in Spain, where the bread is “waaay better.” I guess there is a point there somewhere.

I did not go to sleep. I was determined to get on with the Spain’s program and not to let jet lag affect me. After all, I only have four weeks!

My brother, Liardo, and his wife, Begoña, were they usual adorable self. We got up to date with family stories. There is plenty to be updated on, given that our grandfather, the illustrious mambí General of Independence Francisco Estrada Estrada (don’t ask why he has the same last name twice) left a small progeny of 51 children. Liardo and I were steeped in the glorious memories of our very rellolla family (there is no translation for that word, which basically mean we are more Cuban than the indio Hatuey), and reminiscing of the heroic – and hereditary – stubbornness of our grandpa who was among the few Generals who did not accept the shameful Paz del Zanjón, when we were fighting against, a hem, Spain; and who – in my version of events, somewhat mistakenly – fought his way through Santiago de Cuba to clear the way for the very helpful Americans who managed to keep the mambises out of Santiago…and real independence out of Cuba, but I digress.

By now, Belén and Carmen’s eyes were permanently lodged on the back of their necks. They showed an interest on the Estrada’s genealogical tree that’s only comparable to their interest for the Supreme Court written decision on interstate commerce. Only a little less, because at least the Supreme Court writes in English. Oh, well!




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