Wednesday, January 5, 2011

My Cuba - after thoughts (poem about boy)

so where do we go from here?

1. i am trying to arrange a conference or clinic with several of my alums doctor friends

my hope we will be able to connect the sports doctors of the US with those of the US...and improve the lives of the Cuban athletes

2. i am trying to arrange a conference or clinic with several basketball coaches friends of try to break down the barriers that separate us

the Olympics has always been a good forum for that

3. I will eventually go down myself for a graphing calculator workshops...we did this in the DR and were very successful...donating 100's of old calculators

i planted the seed by giving the little boy a calculator that i hope he will share with his math teacher...

4. my sons want to spend some time at the sugar mill...Brandon is already exchanging emails with the university basketball player

5. my friend Steve Kitchens plans to go back and visit the missionary of his church which is active

6. my chaplain at my school wants to visit

7. EC Smith whose parents ran a big sugar mill for Dole...wants to visit back

8. my doctor here in Tampa wants to visit back....i will offer my services

9. a board member who is Cuban wants to go back and visit

by the way i ran into the dishwasher in our cafeteria who was on the same plane to Cuba that i was....and the lady you made my dinner tonight arrived a few months ago from Santa neighbor arrived 2 years ago

the invasion continues

check out my interviews on You for Cuba Manny Suarez


Patrick Hidalgo (el hijo de Eloise Suarez Hidalgo) sent me an email saying that his friend Patrick at CNN was doing a story on Cubans going to Cuba to visit relatives for the holidays...and was on OUR FLIGHT!!

We met up with Patrick at the airport and immediately he started to film and tape answers to our questions (he is sending me a DVD and Brandon or Austin will post it on YouTube someday)

Patrick is Irish like the Mooneys and Hamms (Lala Mooney and Maria Hamm both living in DC...both already visited Cuba)

He even offers to help with many bags and also gives us much good advice and that we can follow him through customs in Cuba

I said you must have VIP treatment...and he said yes!! They pat me down

Patrick is in love with Cuba...he has been there 10 times...and one time for months...he has a passion for Cuba and he will be there when the newly elected president is sworn in

Patrick films us waiting in line with hundreds of other Cubans with 100's of other stories

Patrick catches me off guard as we are loading the plane with my nerves and emotions at high pitch

He "makes me" and interviews me and we are the only ones left in the terminal...I break down crying

Patrick films my boys watching out the window....and I meet Rita Suarez's brother who is also going back to visit

i show him the Cuban map that Fred gave me 10 years ago (I have been planning this trip for real for 10 years...In the back of my mind for 50 years)...It is a Russian map with Cuba spelled KUPA

I break down crying again as Rita's cousin tells me his family's story

Part 2
(Monday-La Finca, El Central, Varadero)
la manana cafe con leche
basketball with Cuban national Olympic players (retired) and Dr. dentist friend of Manela Suarez (Manny con su hijos grande, gano!!) mucho photos vamos a la Finca!!
Javier (everyone knows where the farm is...and no one knows where the farm is) Finca San Anna y Raul (next to HUGE military school...can NOT miss it, even from Google Earth) Lunch close to Finca (familia con muchacita with pretty nails....and Span-English) vamos a la Sugar Mill....170 kilo per policia El Central Grande per no eras El Dolores Jaime Lopez Sugar Mill (nombre viejo, El Dolores) the Gaston Chapel El Reina and the Gaston family still there and the suitcase of hope Brandon and Austin speak the international language of basketball with 40 kids the tasting of the sugar cane and Flan vamos at Varadero Cuba Libra, Mojitoes, Javier, musica, Chickas, Salsa, Proud Papa playing cards dogs at night and rooster in the morning

Part 3
(Tuesday- Beach, Havana)
early morning walk with my son Brandon
Varadero beach...the most beautiful beach in the world Javier "Mario Andretti" Tunnell story and the distortion of history and Che story Gustavo assistant to the Bishop...make that the Cardinal of Cuba historical tour of Old Havana (where is Toni Diez) dinner in State restaurant motorcycle ride 1952 English Mattress with Manuel (hermano de Celia) Cuba libras, mojitos and chickas....Le Duque Hernandez vs. Roger Clemons dogs at night and roosters in the morning

Part 4
(Wednesday - Goodbye My Cuba)
"not the last time, but until the next time"
early morning walk...Las casa de la Tia's breakfast with Celia and Frank and hijo Luis Brandon the teacher Austin the banker Steve the friend Javier the driver with Berkeley t-shirt airport "Son Tourist" and 1958 Chevy's Cuban sandwiches and trash talk good to see the smile of the American airplane stewardess Steve reading the Bible, Austin and Manny playing cards, and Brandon writing his memories you can see the Florida Keys and Cuba from the air at the same time Miami International we made it ride back to Ft Lauderdale ride back to Tampa Berkeley basketball team arrive at Home and Kathy everything back to what it was...trash talking with the neighbors...watching sports on TV...computers Kathy feeding los hijos mas grande que como mucho
now a school

we watched the children salute the flag while singing the national anthem in the court yard

the teacher trying to get the kids to sing...the kids only thinking about Christmas and going home

we also saw the school from the room we were staying at...and the OLD crusty PE teacher trying to get the kids to stretch...when all they want to do is run and play...stretching is for the uncles at the famous Suarez-Gaston basketball games
PS: I hope to teach Math here someday...when I retire

i forgot to mention....the one person our relatives of Cuba spoke the most about was
no Lala (although she is definitely the Queen Bee), not Manela (although she is definitely the one with the Havana connections), but FRED!!!!

from the very oldest (80 year old man at Dolores with a beautiful smile...he asked me three times about Fred) to the youngest

Celia asked me about Fred every hour on the hour, Frank asked about Fred, the brother Manuel asked about Fred

Raul at the Finca asked me about Fred

the Reina de Dolores asked me about Fred and her daughter too and the husband who is bald asked about Fred

the only person who did not ask about Fred was the Cardinal of Havana

and Fred's buying of the Tutu for the boy was the highlight of the Celia household!!!

Way to Go Big Fred...
ok, I put my book on hold...and will try to answer people's direct questions (that is easiest for me)

(short answer...Celia Rosa is Tia Lala's rooms (3 rooms like a hotel) in Havana....very nice to stay if you want to see how the middle class is living in Havana...her advantage is that she is very well educated and knows how to run a hotel...Including meals (she has plenty of black market food)...they have computers (3) and phones (2) and the best part an outside Bar across the street!!!! (LA Presidente Hotel is 2 blocks away...LA Malecon is 4 blocks around the corner...las tias house around the corner...culture center..everything...many tourists walking the streets...clear air in the streets

her son 11 yr old boy goes to dance school.... (he is too soft for sports)...very smart boy who is also on the math team...he will help run this country someday...very much like the Bernardo's (Teri's boys in DC)

he did not have dancing clothes only shorts and shirt...the other rich kids from the government parents or military parents or friends of Fidel and Raul have dancing clothes called Tutu

"The famous story of the Tutu"

how Lala got Fred to buy a Tutu behind my back and gets everyone I know involved in the conspiracy...Including my wife and best friend Steve Kitchens in Ft Lauderdale
that is the beauty of the Suarez family....we do whatever we

sorry only kidding..."i am going on NO sleep, NO sleep" (from the TV show Seinfeld)

i refuse to use the word "leotards"

to begin with I like Leo to much...Lion the King of the Jungle

tarts are bitter

wait until you hear the long version of the T-T- and then you will understand

plus when screaming on the phone about this situation....T-T- is the only word that works

like Cono...It is bad word...but sometimes the only word that works

love to all, Manny s. (my brain is fried after talking to hours and hours on the phone to Lala, Xavier and Mel.....maybe it is the beers and the golf and the sun....yes, we sun in Florida...In the Winter!!!!)

this one needs a story (hopefully the "size" goes through Google groups

this old man is Jose....and his granddaughter Anna (medical student...perfect English and beautiful)

Jose was selling trinkets in front of his house...I knew I had to talk to him...he has lived there all his life (before Fidel, before the BIG resort hotels)....he knew about the El Dolores...and the Gaston Family

one of the few times I started to cry on the entire trip....It was the old people who were there "BC" (BEFORE Castro)

this man is everything that was good about Cuba BC...he knew what it was and what it had become...his sons were all in Miami.... (I tried to drop the Javier Suarez name with no luck...but he did say I looked familiar...he had to sell me stuff)

i asked why he did NOT leave the island...and he showed my his granddaughter....(I cried again as I thought about the possibility of being left behind by my parents to send us money from the we did to Lala)

we came back an hour later and bought ALL of our souvenir would could afford...$5 fans, $10 wooden statues...the old man would put stuff in our bag when the granddaughter was NOT looking....little crosses made from sharks black tooth...key chains with palm trees...whatever...the old man and I hugged many times...we will meet again (if not in this lifetime, in the next)

if I go back in the next 5 years, it will be to find this old man who I love and shared tears and hugs and stories of the Gaston family...

that Brandon saw the OLD man crying as we left
i love

the old man crying reminded me of the King in the movie Mutiny on the Bounty with Marlon Brandon (or the later version with Mel Gibson)

when his daughter leaves with Marlon Brandon...and the King knows he will never see his daughter again... (since they have to go into hiding from the British)

well maybe not that dramatic...but you get the idea

the feeling of losing something very valuable....but knowing it is the best thing for everyone involved

or Casa Blanca with Humphrey Bogart..."here is looking at you kid"...."we will always have Paris"
Brandon just reminded me

that the old man had a cross on his necklace

i asked him if it was dangerous to show the Cross in public

he said "the hell with Fidel...he is NOT God...he can put me in jail, but he cannot take away my God"

loosely translated from Spanish by a none Spanish speaking person (me)
ok let me see if I can get through this story with getting tears on the keyboard (X and Mel and Lala asked me today on the phone and I said I was not ready to share that already...maybe at the next wedding over some beers)

let me first say that Charlie's Google earth was a big help...If you have not Google earthed have not lived...get your kids to show you how to do it...I can see our house in Biltmore...and the farm and the sugar mill and Varadero and Havana (someone in Miami please show Xavier how to do it)

next let me thank by 3 brothers X, Charlie and Mel for the 3 week long discussion before I went to Cuba about our days at the farm

Lala for her inspiration and finally my bother George 72 or 73 years old that scan handwritten directions that should be in every Suarez scrapbook (priceless)

and someone for giving Celia and then the driver an EXACT address

Javier our fantastic driver (and mi "hermano") took as after the basketball game against the retired Cuban Olympic game (won by Brandon and Austin) at the Panama Games enclosed arena...the biggest and most famous basketball court in Cuba

Javier is a professional driver (10 years) but an accountant in his former life (Cubans talk about their former life when Russia was dumping Billions of dollars on Cuba the way we dump Billions on Israel or Egypt and many countries around the world...also known as Pre-1989)

we called him "The Transporter” (he has seen movies 1, 2, 3 and we laughed every minute of our drive)

we were supposed to have a VAN, but we got a subcompact (this is the way of Cuba)...something about the Cardinal and Christmas fiesta a the Havana Cathedral and some big wigs from Miami and other big cities flying in for the 5 pm show)...It was 4 big guys over 6'6" and the driver...Steve Kitchens knees were in his chest all the way...Brandon sacrificed himself in the middle of the back seat...and I had half my body out the window...what a sight...and we had DIPLOMATIC license one messed with us...not even the road side check points
anyways...I had studied the cities leading up to the La I knew we were on the right track (again Charlie and X and I argued about spellings of city names...I told my sons today...that everything we found in Cuba did NOT happen by accident...It was well planned and the Tias and Tios had laid down the ground work for us to enjoy ourselves)

we finally found the little town...and Javier asked for directions...sure enough EVERY one knew where it was and NO one really knew where it was

it was zig and zag....Javier would NOT ask the military on the side of the streets, nor the police....that he said was a No NO in Cuba

we finally found "Tia Lala" waiting for the bus...she knew everyone and everything...and told us exact where to turn

we then asked a bunch of black workers taking a siesta next to a Russian built tractor...they asked for American cigarettes

then we went further down the road and stopped again to ask a guy on a bike that was older than me with crooked tires...meanwhile Austin at 6'6" said I cannot take it anymore and got out of the car...he walked down this dirt road to look at the pigs

then I had one of those DEJA Vu moments...I know this place...I told the transporter (Mr. T or Mario Andretti like he like to call himself) to go down the dirt road...and THERE IT WAS

i probably recognize it from the many pictures Charlie and Mel have posted on My Cuba

the manager of the farm Raul came out...he was a European looking man with blue eyes...he said he was an engineer but the government told him they needed him to run the "State farm"...he had hundreds of milking cows for state purposes (maybe government and military and tourist)...he had the biggest pigs I have ever seen....FAT chickens running all over the place....and horses well fed and strong...

he was proud to point out the "factory" that Grandpa Manuel Suarez-Carreno had built for his many experiments....and the house that grandpa had built with bricks made there at the farm....he also mentioned Machito (our family farm manager) and of course asked about BIG Fred....he has met George, Lala, Margy, Charlie, Mel, Maria, me and Big Fred...many Hidalgos and several other nephews

he invited us for dinner (really lunch it was 2 pm) but his wife had a 10 day old child

i tried to give him $20 for his baby...he would NOT take it...he said the gift I could give him would be to come back again for a roasted pig dinner when his wife was feeling better (even though he is NOT allowed to use his own pigs)

we piled back in the little car...and off we went for 4 hour ride to the Sugar Mill

BTW the name of the fame is Santa Anna...and it is right next to a large Military school seen from Google earth...Raul said that his father was forced to donate the land to the military

like a good Gaston...all the dirty details
Casa Blanca..."round up the usual suspects!!"

Lala, Fred and Mel

dam shame
do the GAston really want to hear this little story?? lol

actually the moral of the story is that please please please do NOT ask people to take stuff to Cuba the week when that person is leaving

by that time it is too late!!! the poor person is alreay frazzled by so many requests...most that can be done through normal mail or through the priest connections in Havana and at the Sugar Mill...If we can not trust our own priest to deliver the goods, then it is time to either find new priest or find a new church

and the only thing that should be sent is medicine or money....NO material items like shower hoses and tutu's...those are luxurries that I do NOT have in this country...and 50% of our own population in our own cities do not have either

it is now part of the department of culture....Toni Diez would have loved it!!...the person there knew your father Batista the architect
From: on behalf of Matilde Batista
Sent: Thu 12/23/2010 10:24 PM
Subject: Re: [mycuba] insdie the mansion (not Tias)

Do you know whose house it used to be or the address by any chance?
my more sensitive cousins have convinced me to call it by its real name LT...

the week before leaving...after I have already told Tia Lala that I was NOT interested in carrying suitcases of stuff to Cuba (my fault for not communicating this wish good enough...I was in the middle of WORKING and coaching and living)

i already knew from the beginning that:
1. my wonderful wife the ARNP would have a suitcase of medicine for me to carry...and who can say no to a German wife 2. that Mel's wonderful wife the accountant gringa would have a suitcase for her adopted son Brandon to take to the poor people of the Sugar Mill 3. that Steve Kitchens wonderful wife the human resource officer would have a suitcase for her grande Estban Cuisinos to carry 4. that someone in Miami who would remain nameless would drop off a suitcase of medicine for priests all over Cuba...and food for the dogs too
so I knew we would have 4 of our own suitcases with clothes that we really needed for a vacation (that was my first call it a vacation)...ok for our mission to the homeland and the poor starving people of Cuba (by the way I did NOT see ONE skinny Cuban the entire trip...In fact many looked overwieght like many of our own poor people on welfare...but that is for another email and another day)

so by now I am a MULE carrying about 10 or 12 things for different people...on top of grading midterms exams...planning my son's engagement party, coaching and driving back and forth to Orlando to bring my other son and his stuff back to tampa....not too mention the many other things we do including watching sports on TV

and then I got an email from someone in Miami that he had a list from Lala and a medicine bag to take to far so good, please drop it off at my friends house in Ft Lauderdale...and goodbye

3 or 4 emails later with 10 or 12 people added on the email list...I am told that the "red bag" will contain a HOSE for the shower...what the hell??

i do not even have a hose for our shower!!! and I live in America

a poor person needs food and medicine...and maybe some little money to make ends meet...but a frinking hose?? ok ok I can convince the Cuban inspector that it is for medical purpose...already using that line for my little old used graphing calculator with a broken screen that I hope to teach the poor people of my country a little math...

the poor starving lady of Cuba then ask me for a LT for her son who the government says can not play sports, so he must dance...I get pictures with girls wearing this one can see smoke coming from my ears...and I say NO...oh and it comes complete with websites where one can purchase this LT in the US and around the world (free shipping)

i say no to the poor starving lady in Cuba, to Tia Lala, to someone in Miami, to my wife, to anyone willing to listen...NO that is with a "N" and an "O"

medicine yes...shower hose ok with reservation...but LT no...I donot care if it is for Tiny Tim and it is Christmas time

(BTW my son told me today that my best friend of 30 years and his godfather is NOT invited to his wedding because it is a family only affair...ouch)

does no really mean no.... or just

now the plot thickens...and I can no longer see the screen because I am too tired....more to follow

(those not interested, I apologize...please delete and sleep well...and sweet dreams)

Ruperto Herrera Tabio (born December 6, 1949 in Havana, Ciudad de la Habana)

1972 Olympic Games: finished 3rd among 16 teams

Ruperto Herrera, Pedro Chappe, Juan Carlos Domecq, Franklin Standard, Alejandro Urgelles, Rafael Canizares, Oscar Varona, Tomas Herrera, Jose Miguel Alvarez Pozo, Miguel Angel Calderon, Juan Roca, Conrado Perez (Coach: Juan Carmelo Ortega Diaz)

(this was the famous year when Russia with professional players first beat the USA with college players in the Olympics

the USA refused to accept the 2nd place medals....but that is another email and another story)

the more important thing about these Olympics was this was the Olympics where the Israel team was murdered by Arabs

and we did not 9/11 not coming?? go figure...It was a no brainer...again another email someday)

"After a couple of decades of irrelevant performances, a turning point took place in 1970 when Cuban basketball started to achieve results that would place our teams among the best of the world for the next five years. The male team had impressive results. Its greatest expression was the bronze medal won in the Olympic Games of Munich'72. The ascension of the Cuban team had taken place exactly in the University Games of Turin'70, where they conquered the third place after a dramatic final match against the Italian selection. The denouement was as tense as it could possibly be. Tied at 65 points and almost at the end of the match, the referee marked a foul over Ruperto Herrera who failed once and marked the second free throw to seal the victory of the Caribbean team. Other relevant moments took place at the beginning of the 1970's. For example, when the male team defeated the American team in Pan-American games of Cali'71 and for the first and only time they leave them out of the continental final. It was also important having won the second place during the world festival of Peru'73 and the deserved fourth place in the basketball world championship held in Puerto Rico in 1974. The necessary renovation of the following two decades impeded a repositioning of our quintets on the top of the ranking. They started a slow recession and it has turn very difficult for them being able to fight for a medal in the competitions of the area where there are teams that have traditionally played good basket." 01790-19a
thanks to Mane and her amazing connections in Havana, we were able to play a little hoops with some retired Cuban Olympic basketball players....

the court is the most famous in all of Cuba...It is where the Panama Games were played....It is said that even Fidel himself came to see the games there....

of course now it is a shell with no lighting except the natural everything else in Cuba, it is decaying...waiting for a new life

the proud court of Castro's Cuba and the floor is worned and in serious need of repairs....the glass backboard was rattling and about to fall when Austin dunked the ball

i of course played with my two boys Brandon and Austin....3 on "hermano" fuerte Steve Kitchens 6'7" and godfather of Austin, played with the Cuban Olympic in their 40's and 50's like us...

youth won like always....and I got beat up by a 6'5" ROCK of a man....who kissed my hand when I gave him a bottle of Advil for his aching knees....

the second game I sat out and told Austin to beat this beast back....and Austin did!!

i cried a couple of times when I saw Brandon or Austin covering our good friend of 30 years....Steve Kitchens (sorry Steve that you could not play with the SUAREZ-GASTON team)

"somos la familia Suarez-Gaton, somos la familia Suarez-Gaston....and everywhere we go people want to know...."

we kicked some butt and took no prisoners...and made many good new friends...Brandon and the university player on the other team exchanged email address....there is HOPE for the future

(thanks again Mane for forcing ME to do this...I do have a hard head like most of the Gaston clan)
the view from our apartment...the back of the Tias house which is now a school

the children do their it must of been 100's of years ago...or 1,000's if you go back to the GREEKS

notice the maids quarters seperate from the house...

you can imagine a beautiful garden with a fountain and many tropical plants...and a cool breeze

now the fertile ground of the next generation...our HOPE for the future

First Impression

the older man were trying to fic the hoops so we could play full court

Brandon and Austin played 3 on 3 half court with about 40 kids watching...they came from out of the trees

we did the traditional thing of "eating" raw suger cane

i brought a stalk back with me...will try to plant in back yard or give to my Cuban friend who has an organic farm and he can baby it...It does have a sprout and should work (except the cold weather.....they will have to baby it)...lets see
sorry this is the story of the old man at the sugar mill.....(played 2 hrs with boys and alumni mind is going)

this old man is supposely related to us some how...too many people for me too many faces...but he reminded me very much of Melchor Gaston who lived across the street from my parents in Ft LAuderdale

he had a smile that melted my heart

i could tell he has a long story to tell, but no one gave him a chance to tell it....he might have been the Queens husband

about 80 years old and very proud of it...

he talked about Dad like they were good friends...talked about the tennis court which is now a basketball court...claimed that Luis Suarez-Carreno and Ignancio Suarez-Carreno played basketball there but NOT dad...Dad played baseball

(listen I shot with my dad (Manuel Suare-Carreno) when he lived in Tampa....and he was awesome with the two handed shot...he kicked my butt in "h-o-r-s-e" and I am a COLLEGE player...I guarantee Dad played hoops with the workers and his brothers

the first thing out of the old man's mouth (when the ladies stopeed clacking) was how is FRED??....he asked me three different times during the 2 hours that we were there about Fred...and wanted to know when Fred was coming back

this man stole my heart...he was there BC and saw what Cuba was....he has FIRST hand knowledge...I would love to hear his story (too bad...he will probably not make it to the 2014 reunion)
so out driver Javier....took us to lunch a la finca....Raul the manager of the farm sent us there

perfect spot!! we need a nice meal and peace and quiet

a beautiful little place on the side of the road...almost impossible to spot unless you knew it was there

a wonderfull family...father (proud old man), mother, daughter and husband and son running the place

we told him just start bringing stuff out and keep it coming (our driver was doing most of the ordering)

the drive had fish...swordfish...he said it was hard to get good swordfish in Havana....most had ropa vieya and picadillo

they also had lobster but the owner said it was frozen and not very good...It was for the military and high diplomats, but not good enough for us

the old man entertained our questions while his wife and daughter cooked the meal...the son was busy getting things out of storage...and the son0in-law was serving us cervests and Cuba libras and mohitoes...etc. (by the way Steve Kitchens does not drink...that was more for us...our driver usually had only one or two lite beers)

the daughter was beautiful and she long painted nails that Austin complimented her on...after that the son-in-law watched us like a HAWK!! she put on some American videos from the 70's and 80's....Eagle and other famous bands

we were in heaven talking trash about the basketball game and how we kicked some ass...and took no prisoners..etc

then the food started coming out...hamon, cueso, and crackers....then blatonitoes hard and soft and sweet...yuka

i was full even before the meal arrived...

the old man told us that the Govt shut him down for 5 years!!!! because he built a little hot tub for his family...he did not have permission...but things are better now with the new rules

some rough looking policia came in for lunch...they did not smile...maybe the towns people told them or they saw the new car parked up front with diplomatic plates

we ate for 30 minutes and the old man gave us a tour of his little finca and he was brought of the 4 or 5 bedroom house he had built with his son and son-in-law

we barely fit back in the car with our bellies full!!!

the menu said $25 a plate...but that was Cuban pesos...not CUC...the exchange rate was 24 to 1

to the entire feast plus many drinks came out to only about $40 CUC...I left $60 on the table

Correct me if I'm wrong but is that Pepe, Esperanza's husband?

IF that is him, Manny, then the story he wanted to tell you was probably the following [which he told me]:

He started working in the sugar mill office at age 18(?), handpicked by Melchor Gaston Jr. (i.e., your uncle), doing bookkeeping(?) One day, Melchor Sr. doubted some of his work, implying that he couldn't possibly be correct, not having had any formal education in bookkeeping and kicked him out of the office. Melchor Jr. came out and reassured Pepe that he would continue working there, not to pay any attention to the "old man".

I was very surprised because I had never heard any negative stories
about our grandfather. Perhaps those stories never reached Mom's
ears. Or maybe she was no longer working at the sugar mill lab. Or
perhaps our grandfather was really in his "dotage" by then... At any rate, Pepe was obviously very fond of - and loyal to - Melchor Jr. from then on and considered himself an integral part of the business...

now you know why we could NOT eat at the Sugar Mill

i hope all the Gaston's understand....we were not rude or disrepectful...we were full!!!

we did have some wonderful Flan...and Cuban coffee...the coffee took the hair off my

PS: look how happy our driver JAiver was?? he has been driving for 10 years professionally and he said he had a blast!! with us...

BTW he did 170 kil per hour from the finca to the sugar mill so we had 1 hr of sunlight to play basketball

Cuban coffee (first one for Steve Kitchens...too strong so we mixed it with hot milk and now our gringo is hooked on "cafe con leche"....we bought him a coffee cup with Cuba on it

i was up till 2 am because of the cup I had...dam shame
Austin awaits for his Pops in the parking lot

the Americans Austin, Brandon and Steve Kitchens are waved right problem (I gave Austin my 2 bags of medicine...)

i was held behind because I am consider a Cuban citizen....long story here, but no problem

the crowd cheers as each person is let out....I raised my hands in victory!!
Austin trying to determine what is better

1. american dollars to CUC in Havana

2. american dollars to Euros in Miami to CUC in Havana

3. american dollars to Canadian money in Miami to CUC in Havana
Javier...aka..MArio Antretti...also Mr. T (for Transporter 1, 2 and 3)

he works for the American Interest Sectoin...

he pick us up at Havana airport and drove us all over Cuba

he is was the highlight of the trip for me....muy simpatico

he had a smile that lighted up the room

he was our "protecion" (ala Louis Diamond in Stand and Deliver)

he was our hermano

he gave us a tour of OLD havana the first night...after finding the Biltmore house and Villanova chapel

he would stop and ask for directions....about 5 times to find la finca.... we would ask him "why did you ask the woman for directions and not the policeman??"...and he would say "porque aya es un MUERE!! bonita"

when at the lunch in the country...he order for us...and watched over my as the old man did that converting from Cuban pesos to CUC

he also let us cut in line at the bank...when we were exchanging bills

he drove like Mario Antretti....170 kil per hour...and then we would have a check point...he would have to slow down to 20...the cops would wave us on...we had diplomatic plates

he found the sugar mill...and came right on in...part of the family...most of the time he took pictures

at Varadaro he partied with us and las chickas...we had a blast...and the next day he gave us a bottle of Cuban RUm!!

on the last day he wore the Berkeley t-shirt we gave him...he was so proud of it

i gave him a $100 tip...he was well worth it and I look forward to toasting a few with him again some day soon

(PS: the gas is very expensive in Cuba over $5 a fill up the car was over $80, so be prepared to pay if you drive to the sugar mill)

oh, I forgot...he drove us to a friend of a friend of a cousin to buy Cuban cigars on the Black Market...I will let Austin and Brandon tell this story at the next Gaston reunion...It is priceless and almost cost me my life
yes, I was able to bring a stack of sugar cane back.....It will sit proudly in my office with other souvenirs from other trips

this was the one thing EVERY one said customs would never let through

agriculture is more important in Florida than people

but customs treated us like Kings and we walked right problema

too bad that Cuba used to be the world's largest exporter of sugar...and now imports its sugar from Brazil

What the hell happened?
Part 5 - (What's Next?)

1. Fidel and Raul die and another military dictator takes over and things remain the same for another 50 years the people of Miami continue to send money and keep the island afloat...Tourism continues to increase
2. F and R die and the new order of men and women in their 50's borned under Castro's rule decide to have elections they try to keep the revolution of Castro alive as long as possible and maybe allow a little capitalism like Vietnam
3. F and R die and all hell breaks loose as there is a civil war between those that have and those that do not...
the military steps in (with the help of the CIA) and puts down the civil war...and takes control like in Iraq and we go back to Batista days....Tourism grows very fast...US starts to give money like it does for the tune of Billions a year
4. F and R die and there is a smooth transition to democracy with the help of the Obama administration and the help of smart and caring people like the Hidalgo's and many of our nephew and neices....Tourism grows quickly as McDolands starts opening up in every other block with Burger King closely behind....Tourism in Florida takes a hit and Disney opens up a park in it is doing in CHINA!! no more communist government in the world except N.Korea

In the end,

a boy in "prison" (Cuba) gets a little gift from his friends from the US...who, every time they arrive, they kick him out of his room and make him sleep in the Laundry room

a boy who is an angel

a boy I watched sleeping while I cried and thought of my two own own boys who I kissed every night and thank God for such miracles

a boy who wakes up 5 minutes earlier to see his dad, who waits for him outside the house because he is no longer welcomed inside the house

a boy with two school friends playing computer games like Billions of children around the world....the world is really Flat

a boy that wants to learn how to do puzzles and also dance

a boy who does not know why the State tells him what he must become

a boy that hugs visitors who drink his milk and eat his honey

a boy who sees his mother do everything and anything to help him succeed in the system given to her by Batista, by Fidel, by the CIA and by Russia

a boy that touched my heart and I hope to see on TV or live someday dance to the most beautiful music the world

a strong boy, a smart boy, a beautiful boy of angel from heaven

a boy very much like my two boys

My cuba - Day 4 Wed (trip back to the USA)

Day 4 Wed - last day and return to the USA

again woke up with the roosters in the morning (i need to remember to bring ear plugs next time) but i enjoyed getting up early and soaking every last bit of my homeland with me before going back to my NEW homeland.

when we arrived in the USA back in 1961 (after the fiasco called the Bay of Pigs) we were sent by two's to friends houses. I was sent with my brother and mentor and hero Xavier (the oldest of the bottom 6)...Charlie and Mel were sent to someone else, Fred stayed with Mom and Maria being a girl went with another family (you know in 50 years i have never asked her how it felt to be alone?? i always had my BIG bro Xavier)

we had nothing except the shirts on our dad was able to get a job in the DC area working with Catholic University and we got a 2 bedroom apartment with 5 bros in one room, 3 sisters in another and my parents living in the living room.
we were lucky to have good friends help pay for our first school St John was probably free...St Anselms Abbey gave our family 2 scholarships used by X and Charlie 1962-1968 then given to Mel and Manny after that. We ruled the basketball world at the small private school level. X & Charlie winning the tourney in 1968 (Charlie being MVP), Mel winning in 1970 and Manny (me) winning twice in 1972 and 1974 (best defensive player in 72 and MVP in 74)

we won a Pepsi Cola contest and earn $11,000 in 15 minutes of shopping which allow us to but the American dream...a house in McLean, Va...most of my memories are from this house and St Lukes Parish...i wrote about it in my first book "Two Second to Go." My son Brandon is publishing it on a blog soon.

a book i recommend is Waiting to Snow in describes the life of a 11 year old boy from a rich family...except his life in the USA was much harder...he was a Peter Pan boy and grew up in foster homes without his parents. (My cousin and good friend and mentor Jaime Suarez of Miami lived that same Jaime's dad died while in Castro's Cuba)

so i woke up at 5:30 with the roosters and looked out the door to see if Celia was awake...she eventually saw my light and make some Cuban coffee which i mix with leche for Steve Kitchens NEW favorite drink Cafe con Leche. it turns out that today is teachers day and the students give their teachers a present...CnF is busy wrapping those gifts and trying to get the little boy up and ready for school. he comes our of the room proudly wearing his Leotard, but his mom says he must put it back...i assume school clothes during the day and LT afternoons...we spend this last few minutes playing with the graphing calculator...i am sure his mom or dad have told him to learn as much as possible on this last morning of our visit.

can you imagine 33 years of teaching and i am trying my best to teach an 11 year how to use this new machine of the 21st century the graphing calculator which has become a REQUIRED tool in all high school math classroom...more powerful than the computers that were used to land a man on the moon in 1969!! Thank goodness that this boy is on the math team and is eager to learn...i wish i could teach his teacher and that way teach a whole new generation of kids this age. I still plan to return to my first homeland when i retire and help teach as long as i can...maybe giving graphing calculator the ones i brought to Berkeley back in the 1980's when they first came out.

Good friends of mine the Newman Cigar Family have already started a middle school and high school in the Dominican Republic...we have an exchange program going there and our students visit every year...we have sent over 100 graphing calculator down there...wonder if they are using them at is all on the internet at (Texas Instrument)

(Sidebar: i worked for my cousin Jaime Suarez at a hospital in Miami during the summer as an accountant....the bookkeepers there were trying to find 95% of the bill to bill medicare...they had those old adding machines with the handle (this was 1979)...they would put down the amount of the bill 9 times and crank each time and then take away on number and crank 5 times...and that would be the 95%

so i explain to them that if you had a jar of 100 marbles and we knew that the balls were all either red or white....and that there just a FEW red balls and mostly white...and someone asked you how many WHITE balls (by this time all the ladies are laughing)...are there in the jar?? do you count the white balls or the red balls?? of course they did not i explain to count the FEW red balls and subtract from 100!!

so all they needed to do was crank the bill total 5 times!! and subtract from the total original amount (by the way the decimal does bother them at all because they know where the number should be...they do this better than kids in is called "real world" math...any merchant on the street can figure out taxes and final bills quicker than i can with a calculator) they tried it and they loved it...saving having to crank that stupid machine 9 times each time...and saving the muscles in their poor hands

i came back the next summer and they were back to cranking the machine 9 times and then 5 times...dam shame

i was already planning for the future and thinking about bringing some of my sports doctor friends for a clinic on sports medicine with my new friends the dentist and surgeon of the national basketball team and the coach of the university team whose son was now exchanging emails with Brandon, my son.

(I will return have to drop off Brandon at the airport...he goes back to Boston and MIT to work and study...he is living the American dream to its fullest...we had a wonderful trip together to Cuba...cried a few times...laughed a lot more...and discussed all issues of religion, country and Jimmy V said we laughed, cried, and thought every day....i will miss him once again when his plane departs this morning and YES, he has to the 2 boxes of cigars and several emails of people back in Cuba...he plans on sending the little boy some legos and our driver MrT the box set of Transporter...and the sugar mill some basketballs...if my dream team of sports doctors come true... i will invite my two sons to go along to be demonstrators....this is always HOPE)
it is WEd morning on our last day...i wake up Brandon because he likes to spend some one on one time with me...and he is used to the 5 or 6 hr of sleep at night...playing basketball and going to MIT teaches you that...

Brandon starts to do wooden puzzle with the little angel while i teach CnF some more things about the calculator (polar coordinates of the engineers on this list)

the boy walks us out at 7 am...and his biological dad is waiting by the gate to take him to school....this dad is a Communist and works for the Party...Brandon and I start to cry as we see the 11 year old boy hug his dad...and tell him he is to school with Mom because today is teacher day and they have a bunch of presents to take to school...

we walk to the Malecon one LAST time....Brandon takes a great picture of me looking towards city of birth

i swear i could make that 90 mile trip to the USA in sail boat or even a row boat

(I am later told that the Cuban patrol that side of the island constantly...there is Cuban radar and even Russian radar...and supposedly the USA radar too...any one leaving gets spotted right away...if you get caught trying to escape, it is 25 years in prison...and 10 years for anyone who helped you escape..including family members...they can torture you to tell them who sold you the boat and the supplies....and they all go to prison...and sometimes even your neighbors go to prison for not reporting your activities...that is why they were happy to empty their prisons in the 1980 flotilla to Miami)

we also check out the soccer stadium build for the Pan Am games and now abandoned with the lights gutted out...and graffiti all over the stands... the field full of crab grass...and some old people doing their morning runs or walks

as we head back to the "hotel" we are approached by a man with wild shirt and blue jeans....he speaks perfect English and tells us the history of the monuments in the middle of the road "El Presidente"....the El Presidente Hotel is also that road and La CAs de las Tias is also there...we hear the raising of the Cuban flag and the kids singing the national anthem on LAST time

this man tells us he is a "producer" and there is a big Jazz festival that night...he walks us to the house...where the entire gardens are set up for a band... the inside has been renovated with beautiful stairs going up...

this man then wants to show us how bad the grocery store looks...and then he wants to come back to El PResidente Hotel with us, so he can enter the lobby and promote the hotel even more...he ask us to buy a hotel t-shirt because he wants to wear it and attract the guest of that hotel...we say NO and goodbye...

back at our "hotel" we find Austin and Steve having their cafe con leche and pun...the Cuban honey taste so good...we start to pack and everyone is giving CnF their t-shirts and basketball pants....we also put all our soaps and shampoos on the table...lotions and even toothbrushes

we then present CnF with 4 bags that Bradley (Steve's Wife) had made for us with soaps and lotions and pills for bad stomach and ponchos and even flashlights...Steve shows the man how to work the flashlights...a tear comes to CnF as they realize we are leaving them...we settle the account and give a $100 tip...CnF give me a beautiful little picture frame with saints on them to give to Bradley (Steve's wife for the soaps and lotions etc)

MrT shows up and he is waring the BERKELEY t-shirt...with a BIG grin...our new hermano fuerte

i forgot to mention i left CnF a USF basketball t-shirt, UCF basketball, Berkeley basketball, MIT basketball...amazing i had one of each

we also left 2 pillows that Austin had brought...and 3 suitcases we no longer needed...not too sure what other things the 3 other guys left behind...things were coming fast and furiously...we did keep our underwears and the clothes on our backs

our suitcases now filled with souvenirs and rum and
so we loaded up MrT's car...easy to do with very few luggage but plenty of souvenirs

the ride to the airport was very quiet...all in the car were trying to soak in the last scenes along the road

we looked at each other proud of our 4 days together in this little car...MrT asked for a little more money to fill the tank up before returning it to the American Interest section...he explains they will charge him for what is needed to fill up (just like the good old USA)

we drive up the airport and it seems like we never left...but just made a roundtrip ride around the airport...where did those 4 days go...can we do it again?

we unload the bags and say our goodbyes to our new hermano fuert....MR. T!!...steve kitchens pays him $30 a day for 120...he says only 90 because it was 3 days...1/2 the first and 1/2 the second...but steve still gives him 120...he takes it reluctantly...

i sleep him a $100 and we hug...i wish he could come with us back to the USA, back to Freedom

not too sure why i want him to leave...he seems to be very happy with his wife and driving people around...making 30 a day

he is well dressed and seems to enjoy his like an ox...he was our protecion...our friend...our brother

if...make that when i return i will request MrT and if he is busy...i will visit with him for at least one Cuba Libra

so we walk into the terminal and the departing section is completely different than what we encounter coming in...people are super friendly...several souvenir shops...we are told we cannot enter the processing area until 12 we wait in the lobby...buying every little trinket we can...

Steve and Austin running outside every time we see a 1958 or 1956 chevy drive up...Steve's grandfather sold chevy in Bartow Fl and steve lived with his grandfather during his high school years...he worked at the dealership and got to know those old chevy's...maybe not 1958 chevy's but there were pictures all over that dealership in Bartow back in the early 1970's

steve liked the cafe conleche so much that we bought him a cup and saucer that read CUBA and cafe on it...Steve dropped the saucer...and a BIG BANG!!! everyone duck like a gun or a bomb had gone off...several workers came over to investigate

then they announce it over the speaker...plane to Miami...etc...

Austin is buying bottles of rum...and i am buying more trinkets for co-workers...trying to use up all my CUC's

while waiting in the processing area...a young man behind me says that if we declare NO $$ on the US Customs paper, they will not search our bags...etc...

Steve handles the tickets again...thank God for Steve

we then go to a passport area again...i got behind Austin and Brandon got with Steve...

the 19 year old that took care of Austin is turning red as Austin smiles at her and they make small talk....then it is my turn...

the take another camera picture of my face..but i have to crutch hurts my knees which are soar from all the walking around old havana the night before...she finally smiles and i grab my 4 bags of souvenir including several bottles of Cuban Rum that make a loud sound everytime it hits the floor...

once inside the waiting area for departing planes...everything is very calm...we buy 4 Cuban sandwiches which are delicious....steve has his last cafe con leche...(he is hooked!!)

we see planes landing from all over the world, but they go to the main terminal (which we never saw) Jose Marti international

finally the plane from Miami lands...and we gather up all our stuff and head to the plane...I am almost there...almost FREE again....we walk up the steps and i take one LAST look at my homeland...i will be back...i must help my people...there has to be HOPE

this country has so much fertile should be exporting fruits and sugar...NOT importing them...there should 1,000 heads of cattle roaming the fields...all those engineers and doctors should be practicing their trade....not driving cars and running a hotel to make ends meet...

doesn't the government know about the Atheneans? about PhD's at Harvard and Stanford and yes, MIT? who do not teach, but think all day....the great minds need free time to think and explore...and not worry about food and shelter
so we are greeted by American stewardess (called flight attendants these days for PC people)....and they sure look good and when they speak in perfect English, they sound good too

yes, i am an American

many times i have wondered what would it have been like if Castro had not turned to Russia and instead serve his few years as President and then turn over power at another election like they do in most countries of the world now...

what would have become of the 14 brothers and sisters of the Suarez-Gaston family?

what would i be doing? would i have played in the 1976 olympics with the MJ of Cuba man i just met?

would i be a teacher and coach like i am today, or just an accountant...

would Xavier be Mayor of Havana?

my family would have never met the Irish Mooneys or the Irish Hamms...or in my case the german Wentz

would my kids still be 6'5" and 6'6"? would my oldest gone to MIT and become an aerospace engineer?

would Austin play for the 2012 Cuban Olympic team in GOLF? (by the way he did shoot a 73 on one of the most beautiful and most challenging courses in Florida...the golf course capital of the WORLD) doubt he would be in the Olympics for basketball and bowling...

well Castor did not give up fact he betrayed the REVOLUTION and became a communist and a Dictator!!
and because the macho Kennedy's lost Cuba 90 miles off shore, they got us involved in a war 5,000 miles away in Vietnam...the only war the US military has ever lost...

it is amazing how much goes through one head as the climb the stairs of the airplane

"would you and your party like to sit in the EXIT seats? they are very comfortable"

oh that sweet voice...speaking English again..."I wish they all could be California girls"

we spread out since there are only about 50 people on a plane for 300 or so...i am told the money is in the cargo trasporting, we are just icing on the cake...(my goal was to live to the year 2000....these past 10 years...oops make that 11, are icing on the cake...watching my boys play high school basketball and then college...winning 6 district titles in the past 7 years 2002 my new goal is 2020...oh i mean 2014 in Havana for the Gaston reunion)

Steve Kitchens seats down to read his Bible...Brandon to continue writing in his journal...and Austin and I playing Spades the American version of Bridge

as we fly away from the prison, we once again notice the fertile land from the air...and that one can see both Key West and Cuba from the air...i swear i could cross that 90 miles in a raft or sailboat...maybe even swim it if i practice long enough for high school classmate swam 4 min under water and wires and mines to escape communist Yugo

i just met a neighbor of mine who came over on a small boat...he is now driving a Ford Mustang and living the good life...watching the Bucs on a large screen day i need to ask him about his family

we land in the USA and the people on the plane clap...what is it about LAtinos that we must show our emotions on our sleeves...

as we unload the plane the fancy walkway to the plane does NOT work...welcome to Miami

i head for the bathroom in the back of the feeling the lost of sleep of 4 nights where i average 4 hrs a night getting to bed with the dogs at 1 am and getting up with the roosters at 5 am (got to remember to bring ear plugs next time), but you know what i have been doing the same back here in Tampa in my house...why sleep with i can spend time with my boys who are now gone to back to college

the people on the plane are all on their cellphones talking to their love ones...many are crying

i wonder how many have won the "Lottery" and won a golden ticket to leave the island they prison and enter heaven, freedom and the AMerican way...(the US only allows 50,000 Cubans to enter the US legally each year...and there are 2 million people wanting to leave the island...they must buy a lottery ticket for 500 pesos...the equivalent of 25 months pay (2 years of saving your paycheck while trying to eat)...

it would have been interesting to see what would have happen to the nearly 2 million Europeans that flood our shores back at the beginning of the 1900's...if there would have been a 50,000 quota...LIMIT...would we have turned the other million of people back to Europe??

we do not even know how many Europeans enter this country illegally during WWII....the baby boom did NOT come to the US until AFTER the did the US population grow so rapidly before and during WWII??

that is right the only difference between "legal" and "illegal" immigrants is the quotas passed by Congress during the 1900's

if the 12 million "illegal" immigrants that now live in the US were allowed to fill out papers, they would do it in heart beat

please do not tell me we do not have room...that is a cop out...all you need to do is travel across this amazing country to see we have more room than we know what to do...we even pay our farmers NOT to grow crops...we give much of grain away FREE to the fact we give grain to Cuba too...but noone ever talks about that...
so we are now in the air...and once again we can see Cuba and Key West at the same time...

we are asked to fill out a US Custom's paper where we must declare how much stuff we are bringing back (BTW if you are bringing stuff that is very expensive you need to keep a receipt)

so we enter the terminal and follow the signs for US Citizens...they let us right in with very few questions...i almost blow it by saying something like..."Do you know my bother Xavier Suarez the MAyor of CUBA??"...the poor man says sure and tells us to move says "Dad keep your mouth shut"...

we are waved right through the lines and out the door

the only thing that bothered me was the US Custom agents speaking among themselves in Spanish...this is the USA, speaking in English...i think new visitors to the USA should hear English...NOT Spanish...this is NOT havana

i still can not believe they did not ask me about the rum or sugar cane...nor take a quick look in our much for Homeland Security

we went out into the Miami air of gas fumes and people honking their horn....why do they honk so much in Miami...i rarely hear a horn in Tampa

we are excited to find our park car and load it up with our souvenirs

as we drive back to Ft LAuderdale we start to reminisce about the trip and the good times we had

if we push it, we can get back to Berkeley in time to see the championship game of the basketball tourney

we make it back just as it ended...and i am at the door talking trash with all the fathers...we lost and only scored 1 point in the 4th quarter...dam if I had been there that would have not happened

welcome back to the USA and high school ball

My Cuba - Day 3 Tues (varadero, havana, cigars)

Day 3 Tues the Beach and a tour of old havana

Brandon and I wake up at the usual 5:30 with the roosters yelling...I smell gas?? propane gas...get up and check the kitchen in our hotel leaks...smell ok...(i would later find out that the propane tank for the big house was right outside next to our window...DAM shame..I told the lady of the house and she turned it off

Brandon and I let Steve (who was fighting a cold) and AUstin sleep (still dreaming of chickas and Salsa dancing)

so first we walked to the beach...It was absolutely GORGEOUS....the most beautiful beach I have ever seen...I have always thought Clearwater Beach was the best in the world...but this beach is truly spectacular....the water is several colors of blue and green as far as the eye can see (the sand at Clearwater is a little whiter)...and the beaches in Hawaii are terrible ("the King has NO Clothes")....I have heard that Panama Beach is nice...will have to check that one out soon...

back to the main road and they are EMPTY at sunrise...too much fiesta last walk to the Bar of the night before and the stage is gone...los chickas are gone too...and they are washing down the floor...(are those Mexican cleaning the floor?)

we run into a school a few blocks off the main road and B and I decide to go check it out...just like all around the world...parents are walking or driving their kids to school....they are all dressed up in their uniforms with red scarf...and they line in perfect rows as a Boombox playes the Nation Anthem...a scene played out all over the world....the teacher encouraging the students to sing...the kids only thinking about Christmas and the Beach and a day of vacation

some teachers arrive late...hey they seem to be African-Cubano....same scene in the US and apparently all around the world

we stop out of respect to watch the flag go up...someday soon Cuba will be a Free Cuba...and it will happen sooner than later...Gaston reunion in Havana 2014 seems more of a reality

as we walk the street and take a picture in front or this beautiful old church (can be seen on Google earth)...I tell my son a deep deep secret...he is a little worried that it might be about marriage or sex...but it is about basketball and a father and son

in 2005, after watching Brandon play in basketball games since he was 7 years old...after we had made the trip back and forth to the same school called Berkeley in Tampa 10,000 times!! starting when B was 3 years old and went with me to summer camps...he had helped the Berkeley team win 3 straight district titles...his junior with Spiros Federigos they were 3 pts away from going to State (xavier and fx in the stands in St PEte to witness the fathom foul...and Admiral Faragut 6'10" Speights who won 2 national titles at UF and now plays in the NBA)....In 2005, B's senior year and captain of the team and leader of the school, we played our arch rivals Tampa Prep in regionals...with 4 minutes to play...Brandon fouled....the best all around player on the team...the captain..the 41% shooter from the threes...foul out

the team scored 4 pts the rest of the game without its leader Brandon....and so we lost...and denied States one more time....a goal set by father and son when the son was 10 years old and playing on three different teams....

so the gym clears and the parents anxiously await their sons exit from the locker room....everyone came out except my I go in to see where he is...we both catch each other's eye and cry and hug for eternity...about 5 minutes

those 10,000 trips to school come rushing through our mind...the first day of PRe-school when he had his FIRST quiz...the teacher told him to reach down on the table and pick out his NAME on a button...cono, the first day!!! and a quiz...I whispered "the other B, the other B" since there were two kids name that started with a B

we hugged and cried as we remember all those great wins...especially the last second 3 pts from deep corner to beat Jesuit and their cocky students...the wins over Tampa Prep where we hug each other each time...looking for each other at the buzzer to hug and celebrate...sharing a special moment of pride and triumph...

we cried about being the LAST high school game...and going off to college soon...the last game in this gym where he had spent the last 18 years since he could walk and he would watch his Pops play Sat ball with the alums

we cried and we cried for those 5 minutes...I could not be any prouder...and we cried again on the streets of Varadero...and I said "I think about that day every day"....It did not matter that he would play more games for MIT and help them win 20 games in a season for the first time in that school's 100 year history....that he would win the MIT Team's award voted by the players as the best "team player" and he was only a freshman...and I was there at MIT to see him get that award

so after that moment...we continued on our journey...a different journey filled with dreams of a trip to MARS and a wedding in California in Aug....

we run into this old man and his granddaughter setting up their little shop in front of their little house on the busiest street in varadero beach...and I stop to give my respects...I love the old people...those over 80, who have seen Cuba BC (before castro) and saw all their friends leave the island...and then endure the next 50 years under Castro and Russia...."Cuba Si, Russo NO!!"

i asked this old man if he has lived here all his life...he says yes...I asked him if he has ever heard of El D and the Gaston family....and he thinks for a few minutes...and says YES with a smile (we both know he needs to sell something in order to have a fiesta at Christmas)

i then ask him about the way he displays his cross and his faith around his neck....and he says "Castro is NOT God...he can take away my country, but he can not take away my soul"...and we hug and I walk away crying....Brandon later tells me the old man is crying too

i made up my mind that I would bring Steve and Austin back to this tourist trap and buy as much as we can (even though every thing at Varadero is twice as much as in Havana)
Brandon and I walk and walk talking about life...talking about marriage, etc...talking about what all sons 24 years old and fathers 55 years talk about while on vacation

we try to walk into a regular size hotel (probably the famous ones from the 1950' the beach has monster resorts built by European companies...making a fast buck from the European tourist and Canadians who enjoy sticking their nose up in the air at the American embargo...the 4 american chickas we met were all from Canada)

we get stopped immediately since we do NOT have the bracelet around our wrist....for $250 a day...this "includes all" bracelet includes room, food,liquor, everything...beach rental, discoteque, and even tips!! no money needed once you have the bracelet...and probably hotel chickas too...very clean, certified by the Govt doctors...ala LAs Vegas and NY City and Miami Beach

so we find a little cafe run by a pretty woman named MAria...we oder some American coffee and some pan..."sorry no bread today"...but MAria finds us some kind of crackers and she is proud to say some strawberry jam given to her by a, no, I just made that up...but she does give us Cuban honey...and I get hooked on that...

as we sip our coffee on the main road in Varadero we see the tourist city come to life...and more and more people start opening up their little markets...we also see man riding their bicycles with these huge 4 feet by 6 feet high wooden shelves filled with trinkets...but they do not stop at the regular hotels (the famous old hotels of the 50's) they are going up to the NEW resorts the Russians built in the 70's and 80's when things were good and the US boycott the Olympics in Russia and then Russia boycott the Olympics in the US...and Ted Turner than started the World Games every 4 years on the off years of the Olympic...Ted Turner and her pinko wife JAne Fonda...oh they got divorce...GOOD!!... I am sure Hanio JAne has had cafe con leche with the Castro brothers a few times....

we walk back to our hotel and wake up Austin...Steve is outside his room reading his Bible...sharing a special moment with his God...praying for the people of Cuba...and praying for my boys (i am sure)

my friend Steve just reminded me of the conversation I had with el grande basketball player the day before...I was calling him Moses MAlone and they did not understand...I mentioned the name Moses know the man from the Bible...they did not know who moses was...and these were man who were pampered by their government and travelled around the world playing basketball for their country and Castro...they had stayed at hotel with Bibles in the desk, but they did not know who Moses was...and Steve laughing and laughing at my spanish and as I tried to explain Moses 10 commandments...what a horrible life to go without knowing the Bible and JEsus...Steve and his friends would change that quickly some day...they had converted MILLIONS in China...and the can do a few in Cuba...that is why I knew few in El D went to the chapel our fathers built...(by the way, my mother said that only the old ladies went to MAss back in the 1940's and 50's...It must be a Spaniard thing...all talk and no action)

we walk back down towards the main road and little cafe with MAria...who reminds me of all my older 8 sisters (Except maybe Lourdes the nun)...the 14 and 15 year old sister that had to work in the DC area when we first arrived to help pay the bills of 6 growing up and hungry brothers

we see our boy Javier, MrT driving down the street...and he has the biggest smile you can imagine...he gives us a bottle of RUM and we agree on a 2 pm departure...he drives off to spend the day with his friends in Varadero...I did NOT ask him about his

we go back to MAria and we order lunch...Steve is now hooked on Cafe con LEche (here at Varadero everything seems to taste better)...there is a man in the corner who is watching us...he does not order and the people of the cafe seem to ignore him...he orders nothing...just stares at the people on the street and us (my first thought was that it might have been Maria's father...but no she says, it is no one of importance)...MAria enjoys serving Brandon and Austin and they make small talk in Spanish...she has a new born baby...a very bright young lady...she runs the entire cafe and is very proud of it too...the Cuban pride...the sun lights up her day...she is the future HOPE of our island

after breakfast/lunch....we finally headed to the BEACH and 75 degree crystal clear water...It did NOT even taste salty...go figure??...the waves were about 3 to 4 feet like Ft LAuderdale...enough to body surf...we walked out as far as we dare and still not worry about they sharks...we ran into a nice Canadian older couple....they were very funny with their French accent...Steve and B had a good 30 minutes conversation with them....I had to watch the towels and shoes, but our landlord told us that they get stolen...along with t-shirts and anything left on the beach...(the same thing happens at Miami Beach every day...we watch it on the Cops show on TV)

Brandon and I went for a walk while Steve watched the towels...and Austin played with the chickas in the water...boy this boy is just like his DAD...dam shame...thank goodness kids know about rubbers...learned about that in 6th grade...50% of high school kids are sexually active... not the kind the need in Cuba these days...does a cigar come to anyone's mind...It is said that Bill was talking to RUSSO while enjoying a good cigar...ok, ok, I will stop...the truth hurts too much sometimes....please no Bush jokes, he stole the election clean and square just like Kennedy did back in 1959 with his buddy Daley in Chicago...and Daly is still mayor of Chicago

B and I thought about walking down to the NEW resorts, but we had limited we headed back to our towels...Austin was sleeping on the beach dreaming about las chickas and Salsa...and Steve with his PhD in Theology and Brandon who leads 2 different Bible study groups in Boston...discussed Jesus as we sat next to the the Apostles 2,000 years ago...and the American Indians with their children did too until they got slaughter (not by Columbus) by the Spanish crown...

at 2 pm we headed back to our rooms and nice warm showers to wash the beautiful sand off our bodies...a little sand that I brought back to my NEW homeland...

well MrT got us from Varadero to Celia's in 1.5 hours a new world record...(when we told Gus he said, "did you guys take a helicopter?"

on the way in we asked MrT about the Tunnel under the harbor...he says the French gave it to Fidel as a gift in 1961 (I thought no way, no how...distorted history for sure...will have to check that one on wikki later)

at CnF we recharged our batteries and had a little coffee con leche...and retold some of our stories to CnF

then we got the call to go pick up Gus in downtown havana...what a trip...we drove through very narrow roads (one car only) with old 1800 buildings on both sides...children playing baseball and soccer in the streets...many standing around and chickas working...

when we finally stopped...MrT got out...and walked a block away...I walked behind but stopped in the middle of the intersection to get a feel for the entire neighborhood...I must of looked scary standing there at 6'6" with a full beard and dark blue collar shirt with a B on it (B for Berkeley...or B for Bad??)

slowly the people started to disappear...first the chickas...then the men...and finally the children...the streets became empty for one block in every direction...amazing...the fear of a stranger is there

meanwhile MrT motions for me to come up to the door of a building where Gus in plain clothes is standing the street and an old priest is standing in the doorway...I come walking up feeling about 9 feet tall...having spoken spanish for 3 days straight

"hola hombres....como estads?.... yo soy MANUEL SUAREZ-GASTON-CARRENO" like I had been saying it all my life

"what a wonderful day...que rigo" as we walk away I ask Gus who was that old priest...he says the CARDINAL of Cuba!!
dam shame...I felt to embarressed, but Gus said "you just made his day because you treated him like one of the guys"
so we all piled into the car and off to vieja habana we go with Gus

Gus is a very educated man...he help organize the Pope's visit to Cuba...he has given what we are about to receive "the Tour of Old Havana" to heads of states and heads of church

of course he starts off by speaking very highly of Manela and Toni who have housed him many times in DC...he also speaks of the recent visit from the Bishop of Miami and Cardinal O'Malley (Boston Cardinal and close friend of the Suarez-Gaston family)

Gus starts off by telling us about the statue of Chisto Jesus that watches over the harbor and all of the Russian ordered Fidel to tear it down...but Fidel refused calling it a historic monument to the past

Gus also verifies my hunch that the Tunnel under the harbor was indeed built by a French company, but that it was built in the 1950's BC and that they put up a Toll that would help the company make a little profit in 5 or so years (everything is mas o menos)

Gus explains to us that Havana was the Capitol of the New World in the 1700's...the spanish ships would be attacked by the British and French as they went back to Spain full of gold and silver from Mexico...the crown sent a small armada of Navy ships to escort the ships but they had to come to Havana all the big ships had to gather in Havana harbor and await to form a convoy before heading back to Europe

Havana was the NY City of the New World....ships coming to the New World had to first register in Havana...where the Governor of the New World lived...

so many of those beautiful buildings of old havana were built in the European style...they have fallen to decay for the past 50 years and now were being resort at a great monetary expense to increase tourism in the capitol...there are Tour buses arriving every hour on the hour from Varadero Beach (only 2 hrs away)

the things that caught my eye was that on the outter roads of old havana...children were playing in the streets and adults were standing all around...but in Old Havana (where cars are NOT allowed)....only the tourist walked the streets (must be a regulation) the good thing about this is that there are NO beggers like the streets of NY and LA and most American cities

also we saw about 20 restaraunts on a Tues evening...and they were all one has money to eat here or maybe Christmas week is a LOW time for tourists

Brandon notice the big difference between the old buildings that have been restore and those on the outskirt of old havana...those building were old and decay...the insides were gutted out and they smell of urine...and poor people (they looked almost homeless) were living inside these cold and dirty places (just like in Detroit or Chicago or DC...where our poor live)

we visited the Church of Christopher Columbus where CC's bones are buried...go to Google earth and see the pictures there we saw the Cathedral of Havana...where the day before the Cardinal celebrated a BIG mass with famous musicians from Miami...Gus claims he will send MAne a DVD of the event (that is the group who had our VAN from the "US interest")

we saw a beautiful chapel dedicated to Mother Teresa....with a beautiful garden...a jewel in this old city...a MUST see if you visit Old Havana

the Governor's mansion where all the nobles who visited the NEw World were required to visit and pay homage

the driveway in front of the Gov Mansion was made of wooden bricks...this would soften the sound of the hoofs from the horse drawn carriages...

we finally visited a little artist/tour trap shop with beautiful paintings drawn by the local have never seen brighter reds or yellows or oranges as they try to capture the power of the setting sun...the intrique art work on the wooden pieces...of course nothing under 5 or 600 dollars...most are in the $1,200 range

after our 2 hour tour, Gus excuses himself that his wife has dinner waiting...and to be careful about using his name for future tours because he is a very busy man and the church keeps him very busy...

we go walking around to find a place to eat dinner...grown man dressed in waiters outfits stand in front of their restaraunts "calling the tourist to come in and eat"....but most tourist settle for the Beer House or the Coffee House on the edges of the BIG central plaza which looks like very other plaza I have seen in Europe...with the water fountain, the pigeons, the difference with this one is that there are dozen of dogs roaming the plaza...Gud told us that the poor people try to have dogs but can not afford to feed them, so they let them loose...and the Tourist feed them from their tables (like the tourist and the birds on the beach here in Clearwater...and then the birds poop all over the people) in old havana there is dog shit careful where you step!! the way, if this had been China...those dogs would be someone's meal

we get talked into this very old house restaraunt by a very young handsome looking man who says "all included"...salad, arroz, yucca, drink..."all incuded"...that caught our accountants ear...Austin...
CnF had offered to cook a feast Tues night our last night in Havana...but we really wanted to spend the last night in Havana City

looking back I should have invited CnF to eat with bad (like my sons like to say)....the rooms had turned into an hotel more than a relatives place...I will have to remember for next we always have "coffee con leche"...and the food we do not eat at the hotel will last our friends for days...(the mind rationalize to excuse...yes, an invite is the proper thing to do)

Gus gave us a great tour...with much historical background...we hung on his every question was too small for Gus...he definitely had a passion for HIS city (at Berkeley we called it the "EC Tour" for our beloved faculty member of 50 years who gave his life and blood for Berkeley very much the same I did...except I have 2 sons to enjoy my journey with....10,000 trips from home to school and that was Brandon only 1990-2005)

we were coasted into a very old building...with NO customers (something we saw all over the city)...and were served by several men

the entire time I was thinking about these men and what type of degrees they far we had met an accountant who was a driver, a chemical engineer who was told to run a farm, a doctor who is forced to run a hotel business (cleaning toilets and cooking) to help her son succeed in life, this sceniro played out all over MyCuba

i wonder about these men and what they must be thinking about as they wait for customers and clean tables and sweep the floor

i remember of many of my teachers friends many with Masters degree...cutting grass during the summer, painting houses, parttime DJ, working in the Mall during the holidays, doing 2 or 3 extra jobs (that's me), one even waited tables at Burns Steak House in Tampa and claim to make MORE "take-home pay" as a waiter than teaching...

so I guess it happens here in the US too

Javier once again sits at the Head of the Table...he is our Father, he is the MAN!!!, he is in charge...and again he starts ordering all kinds of food and drinks for us "un Sprite for our friend from America...dos Mojitoes por los muchachoes mas grande...y one Cuba libre por me amigo el papa"....and then he adds "and these are FREE correct? they come with the meal that they told us includes everything?"

Javier once again is our protector...knew then that I had met a NEW hermano...thinking of Kevin Costner in Dancing with Wolves

of all the people I met in Cuba...If he wanted to escape...he would be the only one that I would risk my life to help...except maybe the little boy...but then maybe leaving Cuba would kill my new hermano...the sadness of the US can be overbearing for good people from other lands

in 2000, the US was caught in a war in Europe...where one race of people were trying to wipe out another race (after the collapse of the Russian Empire in 1990)...our president Bill Clinton dropped bombs every where and even hit the Chinese Embassy (I wonder how many dollars that cost us...i would guess at least 1 Billion dollars in trade secrets for the "NEW Bear in the rising"....China...what i have penned as the "Flatland War" (1990 to present) honor of our friend at NY TImes, Friedman....they say IBM took down the USSR and McDonalds will take down China...political correctness might take down the USA, right now experiencing the worst Holocaust in recorded history with 50 million killed and counting)

so this family of 5 children, 2 parents and a grandparent landed on our doorstep at Berkeley Prep...the Catholic church of Incarnation housed the family...the priest giving up his house and moving in with a friend of the church (these are the kinds of stories you do NOT read about in the liberal press)

i heard of the family through my chuch and in the newspaper

when MY family came to the US in 1962 there were many families that helped up...we stayed 2 by 2 in different people's homes...when we finally all got together in DC in a 2 bedroom apartment...5 brother in one room with bunk beds and 3 sisters in the other parents sleeping in the living room in a fold out couch...and ONE BATHROOM...(many times i had to pee in the kitchen sink...thank God i was tall enough)

St Anselms Abbey gave the 4 brothers get the BEST education in the DC area (we went onto Villanova (2), UVA and JU, but offered at Harvard and Georgetown)

the brothers (real monks) would run a summer camp for the local children...this was DC in the 1960's...MLK and riots.... they knew if they share with the neighborhood kids our blessing, then they would look out for our property...a school they could NOT my 6 years there...we had very little vandalisma...step off the property and that was a differnt story which i told in my first book (2 Seconds to Go)

so now that i had worked my way up to administration and had grown the summer programs from 80 kids to over 3,000....i offered with the HEadmaster's permission (Joe Merluzzi a Sicilian) this family from Kosvo 5 free scholarships to our summer school called Summer of helped that our LD principle (Joanne Moore "mother queen") was from Phili and had also seen many poor people there

i asked for the help of my son Brandon to be with these kids 24/7 while on campus...i also asked the help of a few other alums that were helping me during the summer (one of the proudest moments of summer work...hiring alums)

we sat down (headmaster, LD prinicple, LD counselor and myself) and tried to be proactive...and think of things that might work or not work

1. the youngest was too young 3 or 4 years old and should stay home with the grandmother
2. we would keep the oldest (10 years old) with the youngest (5) as a class helper...
3. the two middle ones ( 7 and 8) seem comfortable enough to be on their own with older sister nearby and help of Brandon and our wonderful LD teachers
4. we would have to provide transportation and meals
5. we would have to keep an very close eye on them those first couple of days...Moore and I looking in on them frequently asking the teachers for progress report...just watching them during break and lunch 6. we would have to give them a tour of the classroom on the Sat BEOFRE they get them used to the facilities...we realize simple things like goint to the bathroom would have to be addressed by the teacher...going swimming in the pool would have to thought about...they would need bathing suits...thank goodness they were Catholics and not Moslim...that would have present many different issues

so that we were giving the tour...(we had just built a two story grade 4 and 5)...the 3 years old in his excitement ran down the hallway and right INTO the FULL size glass window next to the door leading outside

BOOM...down goes Frazier!!....thank God the window did NOT break...all he got from it was a big goose egg and the Mom from Kosvo laughing

i was worried this might NOT be as easy as i thought...but the Headmaster said don't panic yet...give it a couple of days (i love those family loving Sicilians)
the kids adjusted very well, very quickly...our teachers were awesome as usual

one little snag was when the fire alarm went off...according to the teacher, some of children tucked under their table (i remember doing the same thing in the 1960's in the USA during the Cold War with Russo...put your head between your kneed and kiss your butt what we used to say)

but the mother was very disappointed with the rest of the American experience...she said the children spent way too much time watching TV...and the shows on TV were all pornographic...even the most popular TV show of the time Simpson was unacceptable

the oldest was a daughter and even at 10 years old, she was asking questions of things she had heard of at the playground near their church house....and the way ladies dressed was unacceptable

so after only one summer, the family decided that the USA was not a good place to raise a family and they moved back to war torn Kosvo

MyCuba- Tues night - the black market cigar story

so Austin had insisted as the best man at his brothers wedding on Aug 20, 2011, he needed Cuban Cigars...but the cigars Cohibos costed $240 a box in Havana streets...way too much for this group

so MrT our driver said "i know a cousin who has a cousin who knows a friend....that can give us a good deal"

at that point i knew we were in trouble....but Austin was excited and Steve Kitchens did not object...and i was not thinking clearly after 3 night of only 4 hours of sleep a night....with the dogs at night and roosters in the morning

we drove out of havana...4 lane road, turns into a 2 lane road, turns into a 1 lane road...and then a left onto a DIRT road...we are in the slums (this is where drug deals go down...for sure...plenty of chickas on the street corners as cars with diplomatic plates drive by)

there are NO street lights and most houses are can barely see the hand in front of you...we pull up to this one shack which has 3 layers of defense....front doot with bars of course, dogs (I make friend with one named Rocky) and the front gate to a high fence

this 70 year old man comes out and unlocks the many locks to let us in...MrT is in the front and 4 grande Americanos who come mucho get out of this little can almost sense all the eyes of people looking at us through the neighborhood windows..

we enter the shack and the first thing i notice is that they do not have doors between rooms, just curtains...and then a 70 year old crusty looking women comes out of the back room in her bathrobe or nightgown with a cigaretter hanging down from her lips...and the lady and MrT start talking "la business" (this is one of my favorite lines from the was the only Italian i understood)

they are talking way too fast for me to i was looking around and watching the old man lock our three escapes out the front way...thank goodness the kitchen looked like the 1950's in USA complete with the old table with some kind of fake marble pasted on table clothes...

then the lady started bringing all kinds of cigars from the back room..."estos son muy fuerte...estos son thin..." Austin eyes light up...and Brandon the older brother graps a cigar and smells it like he is testing for freshness...Steve and I are laughing inside

then the haggling over prices began...the entire time we were on the island MrT told us that we do NOT haggle over prices in Cuba...5 pesos means 5 pesos...Austin tested it a few times and it was true...although the owner always seem to throw a little extra gift our way..."go ahead pick another is on me"...mucho gusto

Austin starts at 20 and the lady says 80....austin offers 30 and the lady says 60 (wow that was a quick drop)...austin overs 40 and the lady says ok!!...then austin says 70 for BOTH!!...and after thinking about it for a few seconds...the lady reluctantly says ok...

i would have paid 80 dollars just for the beautiful boxes...

the the lady brings out this goreous big beautiful cigar box empty and seems to be tell MrT that if he ever has a big fish, that they can sell this for Million pesos...Austin eyes light up, no, Austin "million" means thousand in Spanish....apparently the diplomats from other contries are willing to pay $1,000 for a BIG box of very long Cuban cigars

I say, that would be a beuatiful box for my headmaster...who loves a good cigar once a day...and Austin say 10 pesos for the box
the poor lady did NOT want to let that beautiful BIG cigar box go..she needed it for the BIG fish with mucho dinero

austin offered 10 pesos again...and the old lady said "no puedo"...not for sale

then MrT our protection...spoke...."10 PESOS!!"...and the poor lady got real quiet and got deary eye

i have a few theories....(my sons always laugh when i say that...started to say that when Brandon then 20 years old and a big MIT college student...told the little one Austin about 16 and fighting me all the know "Dad is NOT always right"...dam that is all the little one needed to hear to break all hell loose)

the driver had SET THE PRICE 10 pesos...that meant she had to give it up...that might have meant that what ever share he was suppose to get from the 70 original offer...he was throwing in his share...that meant that if she ever wanted him to bring more customers in the future, she better sacrifice this box to his new hermanos de USA

so the poor old lady started wrapping the boxes in old Cuban newspaper that Austin called propaganda newspaper (oh you mean like the NY

as we headed out i gave the lade another $20...but she did NOT smile...she wanted that $1,000 big fish

now we were all walking VERY TALL....we had survived the Black MArket...the shakey surroundings..and we made a killing

then we notice the little blue car with the little european blue light on passed our new car with red dilpomatic plates and 4 grande americans coming out of a shack with cigar boxes....

our driver said "vamous" and put his finger on his lips....quietly, quietly

all kinds of thoughts went through my head now...Cuba does NOT recognize the US citizenship..they still say i am a Cuban citizen since i was born in havana in 1955...i am a traitor who left his homeland and plotted with the evil USA against Cuba...i am related to Manuel Suarez-Carreno who was sent to prison in 1960 along with my sisters...

there are no jury trials in Cuba...only two options...prison or be shot...DAM!! what if i can never go back to the USA...MR Merluzzi told me he would not get me out of jail...and my best friend Cook said he wanted my

so we quietly shuffled our feet towards the longer feeling 6'6" tall....more like little mouses or worse RATS in the Cuban slam

we piled into the little car as the little policia made a u-turn and headed our way...MrT rolled the car down the dirt road with our light i could see very street lights needed when your heart is going 120 beats per minute

when we got to the main road, MrT fired her up and off we went back to Havana and safety of diplomatic plates

it took us 30 minutes to get to the little shack, but only 10 minutes to get back to CnF house...MrT did 80 all the way...i do not remmber ONE single red light....MrT was real nervous...because he too could have gone to jail..or lost his professional transporter card...which alllowed him to make 30 dollare a day!! a wage for a king in Castro's Cuba
so MrT dropped us off after an exciting day...of beach, old havana and black market adventures and we asked him to be back at 9 am to drive us to the airport...he looked tired for the first time on the

we decided NOT to go to bed but to have one LAST drink at the bar across the street from our hotel

the bimps in the street tried to talk us into chickas..but we said NO thanks...

the bar was not as full this night...and the barman knew us from the previous night and that we were althetes and good tippers...we bought a round of beers, Cuba libras, mohitos and a sprite for our American hermano

i noticed some american ladies and went over to talk to them...the boys were too tired from the beach and tour and cigars saga

they were from Canada...and the guy from Spain...the third person was Cuban and wanted to know about el grande Americano

so Brandon came over to talk the student from Canada...and the Cuban lady come over to talk to Steve

she asked Steve his name...(i was the interpertor)...he said "Estaben Cusinos" (he had learn this from his many missinary trips to Coata Rica and Honduras and even Haiti...steve was hoping to find the mission from his Church in the Havana area...we never did find it...dam)....

the Muere asked again "trabajo en la cusina??".......Austin almost fell off his chair laughing....i said no, no es nombre is Estab Cusinos

then she said something about wanting to do something in the kitchen.....Austin almost busted a gut...Austin says he wish he had a video of this lady banging her breast against my ear as i tried to listen...and then me trying to interpret from spanish to English and then back from English to spanish...

the lady would say 3 sentence in spanish...and i would translate...Steve she says "you are beautiful"

another 3 sentences in spanish..and i would translate....Steve she says "you're perfect"

i will have to let Austin tell what she said next...that caused Austin to laugh so much that he had to go to the bathroom before peeing in his

i told the muere that that was enough and please go back to her friends...and she did

i went to retrieve Brandon from the canadian and spaniard guy...when i came back...2 chickas had sat down next to Austin (one with a breast exposed)....i told the manager...please get these ladies out of here...we are NOT interested!!

(I must admit that the same thing happens whenever i got out to a bar with my boys...heads turn and before i know it they are in a conversationg with USA chickas....etc...and when we walk through the airport with Steve Kitchens heads are constantly turning)

somos la familia Suarez-GAston...and everywhere we go people want to know

as the night wind down and we did not want our last night to end...only the bartender and the cook remained...another strange looking man sat at the bar and never smiled...just stared..he did NOT drink either

so i stood up to stretch my legs....the kids and Steve were getting some ice cream bars...the cook said wait a minute i have some FRESH ice cream right tasted heavenly

so i asked the bartender/manager who had kicked out the chickas, who is the best Cuban baseball player...and he yells El Duque (Duque Hernandez played for the Yankees and won a World Series...his brother played for the Fla Marlins and they also won the World Series...there is a Classic commercial where both brothers (defectors from Cuba) show their American Express card and their World Series ring full of diamonds...and say "What a wonderful country"

then i bring up Roger Clemens...and everyone starts screaming and arguing...even the strange man at the bar chimes in...everyone has an opinion and it seems to me who ever is the loudest thinks they have won the argument

then i bring up the OLD Luis Tiant who won 3 world series game in one year...a very rare feat...and again everyone started arguing....

we tried to pay our bill, but the bartender/manager waves me off and sais..."buenas noches amigos de america"....i still left a $20 on the we left they were still arguing about the best pitcher from Cuba...misson accomplished