Far away from home, make it memorable.

It’s not even a day, I miss them already; my family, friends, neighbors, cats, and the comfort of home. Leaving them behind to travel for my annual pilgrimage creates a nostalgic moment.

Far away from home, I want to make it memorable.

This foreign land transported me back in time, 40 years ago.

Unexpectedly, the corner store triggered memories of younger days where we stood at the corner chit chatting with the owner of the store or just looking at fresh fruit and vegetable on sale for the day.
Moving vendor -CubaSometimes, the “store” comes to us when the vendor peddles his business and shouts along the way to catch our attention.
GardenPoinsettia and San Francisco shrubs grow with striking color adorn a small house flooded my vision, familiar plants I know too well that grow in tropical climate.

Nostalgia makes me say “when I was younger….”
Horse drawn taxiWhen I was younger, I walked for miles and miles just to go to school. There were no locomotives in small towns and the main transportation is horse-drawn we called  “karatela”.
LaundryTropical warm weather is perfect for hanging laundry in the garden. Nothing is better than smelling fresh clothes aired out without the help of hot pumped air and a sheet of bounce. My olfactory nerves remember vividly the garden-fresh scent of the fabric. The soft feel of sheets on my face as we played using the linens to hide, catching the clothes as a sudden gush of wind pushes it up high on the air, or creating shadow caricature with our hands provided pleasurable activities as a child.

I may have grown up in the city but I always look forward to visiting the province where life moves slowly and freely. Fowls roam free, scratching the ground for food and lay its eggs underneath the shrubs. In the city, we call them free range chickens and eggs.

Free range, such a strange adjective to describe the chickens or the eggs.

Oh my, oh my, oh my. The fruits made me salivate: tamarind, star apple, freshly squeeze pineapple and sugar cane. A flavorful memory on my tongue assaulted my tastes buds.
Common treeThere is a gigantic tree that even the natives of this land are unaware that the hanging pods are edible and medicinal. They don’t know the name of the tree and I have forgotten it as well. One thing, I still remember to this day how we climbed this tree, picked on all the mature pods, broke it open and collected all the “peas”. The seeds are so sweet and tart beneficial for treating stomach parasites better than taking medication prescribed by the doctors that are thick as molasses and bitter.
Cuban kittyAnd then, an innocent animal made itself comfortable in my sweater. A tinge of homesickness surfaced remembering my two cats I left at home. The group of people knows me very well that I love cats. They teased me that this one has my name written all over it, wanted to be adopted and be taken home.

Of course, when we travel, we bring our opinions and feelings with us. We think that we are better than the locals eking out a living by serving us with joy. The question came up when we were having an outdoor dinner by the pool: “I wonder if these people are happy? They are so poor looking especially the blacks.”

This question brought back memories how poor we were and worked hard for a living doing menial tasks. Hard it was, we were happy because we have families to love and live with. Simple life but nonetheless, we were happy.

“Let’s find out and ask him.” I challenged the group. And I did.
HappinessHis eyes lit up, gave us a beaming smile and said, “Very happy. My family is here and we love one another.”

What a stimulating word nostalgia is. Instead of making me feel sad, it gives me joy in remembering and optimistic. I could see Cuba is similar to the Philippines. It makes me wonder what life would be should I remained in the Philippines.

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