Return to Roots - May 24

Please say it isn't so, our last day in Cuba :( We woke up early to enjoy a little more of Varadero before we get picked up in a couple of hours. My tan has deepened and heart has grown. 

I'm on the plane now next to a kind Filipino woman who I just cried to, leaving Cuba in my rearview window. I am feeling so many feelings. Overwhelmed with emotions, questions, answers, understanding. I'm happy that I was blessed, lucky to be able to go. I'm sad seeing the state of everything. I'm hopeful that these beautiful people will find resolve soon. I'm anxious to return again soon. I'm so many things.

We were picked up by Aramis and his family and we said goodbye to Roberto y Martha. We went back to Starbien to eat one last Ropa Vieja with the gang while we joked in the car and they filled our brains with hilarious Cuban dichos y disparates that are on the next few pages. The day grew gloomy and rainy, which was the perfect send-off. It echoed my sentiments exactly. Once we got to the airport and they announced our check in, Estrella's eyes started to water. I knew this was coming. So mine started to go too. She gave me the biggest tightest hug and cried hard into my shoulder. Like she was gasping for air, hard. I felt so much love for her and that family in that moment. Aramis was next and the smile on his face was awesome. Aramisito gave me a super tight hug and kissed my head and said how much he loved us. Then we went for a second round of hugs. Aramis papa and Jr. at least get to travel because of their Spanish Visa but poor Estrella is stuck so us being there was, I'm sure, really special for her. For the whole family. But the pleasure was really ours. To have them as our home away from home and tour guides was... well, I couldn't have asked for anything better... Tito and Grisel were also wonderful with us. This whole week was absolutely magical and we couldn't have planned it better. Everything came as it was supposed to and happened when it should. Yes, my Spanish got stuck at times, but the Cubans there never made me feel stupid or bad for messing up or not knowing a word. They were incredible, through and through. Human, yes of course, but humans with a tremendous amount of heart and soul and joy for a life that is unfair and unjust. I'm so grateful for this week and I'm immensely grateful for them, for everything they shared with us; their hearts, homes, minds, time, food, thoughts, laughter, dirty jokes, late conversations, knowledge and so much more. I am honored to know them and feel I am a better person because of them and this week. I can't wait to go back and learn more, experience more. I feel I just hit the tip of the iceberg.