Traveling To Cuba To Meet My Family Gave Me A Deeper Understanding Of Myself
By DeAnna Taylor
For many Americans with Cuban roots, a certain void has taken over their life. Due to the strained U.S.- Cuba relationship, many have been separated from their families with only technology available to keep them in contact.
This was the story for Jose Pomier. The Virginia resident has only been told of Cuba and what his family is like, but never able to physically see for himself. His father and uncle were among many who were granted permission to leave Cuba in the 80s as refugees and relocate to the United States.
Unfortunately, this also meant that his father and uncle could no longer travel back to their homeland without consequence.
When it came to learning about his father’s side of the family or what life was like in Cuba, Jose simply had to rely on the stories and photos that his father and uncle shared.
“While we could call them, I could never physically meet them,” Jose told Travel Noire. “Growing up, I never had that fulfillment. My spirit alone is what pushed me to make the trip.”
Recently Jose traveled to Cuba, alongside his wife, in hopes of putting the pieces together. They felt now was the perfect time, while Americans are still able to fly into the country.
“When I first arrived, I couldn’t believe I was there. My father always talked about it, but to step on the soil was so unreal.”
Jose and his wife were met at the airport by his aunt and two cousins. He recalls it being a very joyful and emotional greeting that led to lots of long hugs. There was also lots of tears, something that everyone needed.
The main goal of the trip was to reconnect with the family he has never met. Therefore, he didn’t make too many outside plans for this trip to ensure he had plenty of time with them.
The first night was filled with eating, partying, and laughter until 4am at the family home in Havana, San Francisco de Paula.
“We just wanted to see each other,” Jose said.
Since his father hasn’t been back into the country, Jose decided to make a very touching video for him. The video showed a lot of his father’s childhood friends from his neighborhood as well as family members. Jose even recalls one evening where his father happened to call the family home and he answered. His father was overjoyed knowing that his son was there bonding with his family.
One day was spent at his paternal grandparent’s home. He learned that his grandfather was a professional boxer in Cuba and that was how he was able to put food the table and care for his family.
Family members told Jose of how his grandfather built his home from scratch, adding on as the years went by. Soon, other family members did the same and connected all of the houses together.
“The stories I was told, helped me to put things into perspective and to recognize my roots. The things I do, my love for art and music, the way I dress, the foods I like all tie back into my Cuban roots. I understand why my father is such a hard worker and why I am now that way too. I really appreciated being there.”
In their free time, Jose and his wife had the chance to check out Old Havana, the beaches, and the culture overall.
Jose, a guitarist himself, was even able to show off his skills to the locals.
This trip helped to fill lots of voids and connect the dots to so many unanswered questions. He feels fuller and has a deeper connection to the family he now knows. Since returning he has talked to them every single day.
“My family in Cuba felt like they would never be able to meet any of us living here in the U.S. in person. I’m happy that I was also able to lift their spirits by going to see them.”
He plans to go back in December to continue the process of tracing his roots and his father’s roots. He doesn’t want to look at this as a project, but simply a journey to better understanding himself as a man.
To see more of Jose’s journey check him out on Instagram: @Jose_pomier.
DeAnna Taylor is a criminal defense Attorney turned travel blogger, author, and writer. While Charlotte, NC (her hometown) is her base, she's always somewhere on a plane. Catch her on IG: @brokeandabroadlife.