Good Morning Readers,
So sorry for the delay posting this lovely story by the talented romance author, Maggie Dove. Unfortunately, she and I ran into a few technical difficulties this morning, but better late than never. So please make welcome, Maggie Dove while she shares a part of her true life experiences with you in Bullfights and Burgers. Leave a wonderful comment so at the end of the day you have a chance to win an E-copy of Maggie's new book, the historical romance novel, Angel of Windward.Pssst! Her book has been at the top of the charts and was the number one best selling historical romance at Fictionwise, so you definitely want this book.
BULLFIGHTS AND BURGERS
I was born in Cuba in 1954, five years before Fidel Castro's communist regime took over the island. In 1960, my family was forced to flee to the United States. Although I was brought up in Miami, it took me twenty years and a trip to Spain to realize that I was a "true American." During the first year of exile, my family lived in a vacation-like atmosphere. All of us believed that we would be returning to Cuba in a matter of months. We were certain that communism would not be allowed to exist only ninety miles from the United States. However, after the Bay Of Pigs invasion, we knew that we were here to stay.
When I was growing up, I was welcomed and treated as an equal by all of my American friends. I was raised on hamburgers and rice and beans. I spoke Spanish at home and English in school. I memorized the Star Spangled Banner and learned all about the Mayflower. I dressed up for Halloween and celebrated Thanksgiving. I even became a U.S. citizen; however when someone asked about my nationality, I always answered "Cuban."
In 1974, on my twentieth birthday, my sister and brother-in-law invited me to spend a year with them in Spain. My brother-in-law was the manager of an American company in Madrid. They had been living there for two years. I was thrilled. I would never return to Cuba, but here was my opportunity to see the land from where my ancestors had come. I decided not to spend my time studying in Spain. I wanted to travel all over the country and learn about its people. I spent time in San Sebastian and Barcelona. I went to Marbella during the summer and visited Pamplona (the town that Ernest Hemingway wrote about in The Sun Also Rises).I saw dozens of bullfights and enjoyed clapping the beat to the flamenco dances. I went to El Greco's home in Toledo, the El prado museum in Madrid and beautiful Aranquez. I was amazed by the Escorial, the exquisite monastery and palace built by Phillip II.
I found Spain to be a magnificent country with colorful customs and wonderful traditions; nevertheless, there was something missing. I encountered a very closed-minded society. One had to be born and bred in Spain to be considered worthwhile. I felt like an outsider. In order to be accepted, I wanted to explain that my grandfather had been a very famous writer and that his statue stood in one of their main promenades. I wanted to tell them that when my grandmother had visited Spain thirty years before, Franco had welcomed her to his home. Yet, I sensed it would be to no avail. Thus, the only real friends that I made were foreign students living in Madrid.
As time passed, I began to feel sorry for the Spaniards that I encountered. It was sad to meet people that could not appreciate anyone that was different. How predicatable and limited they all seemed. How fortunate I felt to have been raised in a place that combined all different cultures and molded them together to form a great country.
I realized the differences between the United States and Spain. In the United States, a person is judged by what one accomplishes and is respected for one's merits. In 1974, a person in Spain was judged by whether or not they carried a title.
During my last month in Spain, I had a very enlightening experience. I was late for a luncheon appointment and decided to take a taxicab to save time. The driver, noticing my Cuban-American accent, asked me where I was from. I told him that I came from the United States. "Oh, the imperialistic U.S.A.," he said flatly.
It took me awhile to answer him. I was so furious that I could not see straight. How dare this man insult my country? How ignorant of him to say such a thing!
I had never felt more American in my life. I looked at him and said, "Yes, how about those Yankees? How imperialistic of them to provide food and help to many countries that cannot appreciate it and are ungrateful enough to resent it!"
He immediately apologized and I was actually grateful to him. For the first time in my life, I knew who I was. I was a Spanish-speaking, Cuban-born, American-Yankee! A month late when I arrived at Miami International Airport, I knew I was really home.
It has been many years since my eventful trip to Spain. I know that there is a part of me that will always remain Cuban. It is a part that I hold very dear. It consists of my Spanish upbringing, my passion for "arroz con pollo," and my parents' memories of their stolen paradise. However, I also love pizza, burritos, bagels, sweet and sour pork and frankfurters. It is wonderful to live in a country where one can eat all this and still think one is consuming and American meal!
(I have returned to Spain since and have found it to be a much more open and congenial society than the one I encountered in 1974.)