Caren Ware's Blog

June 15, 2012

Getting in the Boat

Filed under: A Runner's Story — Caren Ware @ 11:55 pm

I met this gal on the return flight from South America.  Her energy, friendliness, mannerisms, and English were impressive.  She introduced herself as a Peruvian from a desert town that she just knew I wouldn’t have heard of.  She was currently working in Beverly Hills as a house tender and personal aid to older women.  She was dating a fun gentleman that defected from Cuba.  He lived in a small town in California that she stated that I also wouldn’t know.  Her Peruvian town?  The very town that my daughter, at age fourteen, had helped in an orphanage and got stranded during a countrywide citizen uprising.  Her boyfriend’s town?  It was next door to my timing business.  We hit off hours and hours of conversation.

She told me that I would be missing out if I did not join them for a PIG feast, Cuban style, they were hosting.  I knew I would come.  Somehow, that ‘plight’ to find footing in a foreign place connects with me.  She got timid when she shared how hard it was to leave her young daughter behind in Peru, but she felt her only ‘hope’ would be opportunities in another country.  She looked away and said.  “Thank you for letting me share that.  Somehow, I feel like you care about that.”  I shared with her a few of my own ups and downs and the ‘plight’ of our Mexican boys, boys that are family to me.

When I got to the bar b que, I was instantly shoulder hugged and introduced to everyone at once.  “Come.  Come”.  We were hoping you would join us.  We had a little set back.  But nothing that would deter us from baking this “PIG.” THE PIG was the center of the celebration, ceremoniously checked with spices and the right temperature of the coals.  “We might unveil the pig much later than expected.”  The set back was that the neighbors had called the FIRE DEPARTMENT reporting the dastardly crime of an illegal bar-b-que pit in the Cuban’s own backyard.  Having to respond, the sorry faced firefighters showed up, lights flashing, hoisted out their hoses, and doused the pig pit.  The party, then, had to go to the store and purchase charcoal, which they were all debating on how that would change the flavor of the pig…so they disguised the wood fire with bits of charcoal and defiantly carried on.

The striking Cuban, this gal’s boyfriend, shared, “Sorry for the defiance, but we have to bake the pig.  I find this humorous.  That I can endure Cuban prison camps as a teen and escape in a boat built for 4 while we had 15.  You see, us teens decided death was better than life in Cuban.  It was a very risky and unknown outcome of stealing a boat and shoving off our Cuban shore in ‘hopes’ of whatever.  There were 15 of us all in one tiny boat.  We spent 11 days out at sea with no food and only caught rain water.  Two of us died.  I, the youngest at 16, dropped 31 pounds.  We were barely alive when a Navy freighter found us.  A Catholic church sponsored us.  I was adopted and not sent back.  And the rest has been a hard working life to provide for my own kids”.  He proudly wrapped his arms around a strapping son. He smirked at their American…ness.  The tenacity was deep set in his eyes and yet sparkled. Good combination. He said those that survived that boat ride make a point of getting together, reunion style, each year. He shared, “Some are successful.  Others not.  Just luck of the draw I guess.”  Looking around at his humble home, but filled with laughter, noise, and the scurry of producing all the delicious Cuban dishes to go with THE PIG,  he gestures with finality, “I can count this as success, can’t I?.” You bet he can.

So I drive away, thinking, that’s all I need… courage.  I can drive my truck and trailer north with some belongings. It’s not anything like getting in a boat and SHOVEING OFF for a foreign land with all UNKNOWNS and  no assurity that you will make it.  Or is it?      HOPE is a strong thing.  So is FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN.

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