When he was 16, while hitchhiking in his native Chile, he was given a lift, Donde tu vas? Muchacho? said the portly man in the car with a deep voice. That belonged to none other than Pablo Neruda, who would later become the second Chilean to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. Mr T who had left his native land soon after the overthrow of Salvador Allende in a putsch very similar to what is happening in Venezuela (Brazil, where the coup was not bloody), has made a life for himself in Miami. He became very animated when we talked about the history and psychology of being a Chilean. I told him that I am the best known Cuban in Easter Island or Rapa Nui, the distant polynesian outpost of Chile and he chuckled and remembered the time when he was in charge of constructing the Mataveri airport with US help. (NASA wanted a large enough place to land in case of trouble with space crafts). The young man spent a couple of hours talking to Pablo Neruda at his home in Isla Negra. Many years later Mr T had the opportunity to introduce Pablo Neruda, at that time a Communist Legislator to an audience in Santiago and they both laughed at the surprise of this reunion and their initial meeting.
He left me at Door 2 at MIA, very quickly I cleared the TSA check and arrived at the American Express Centurion Lounge near the D15 gate from where my flight to Boston was to depart.
Warmly greeted by Junior, the Food and Beverage manager, and Lily an attendant, a reccent arrival from Havana, I felt relaxed and the waiting for the flight then becomes a pleasure. Junior was born in Miami of Haitian parents and hospitality is in his blood. I am certain that he will go high up in this industry. He is truly a star.
I was sorry to miss James and Michele from Puerto Rico who are normally at the reception.
And yet another person at the lounge who genuinely exudes warmth is Paloma, at the bar, who is from Cali, Colombia. We had a nice chat about Colombia and its beauty and its illustrious son, Gabo a great friend of Cuba and also a Nobel Laureate in Literature. I was happy to tell her about Alvaro Mutis, my favourite prose writer from Colombia (exiled and died in Mexico).
In the course of just two hours, I had left the home of my sister, who is a British Jamaican and her husband who is an Arab Jamaican, taken to the airport by a Chilean and warmly greeted by a Haitian American (a glass of NZ Sauvignon Blanc appeared as he had remembered my taste), a recent arrival from Cuba (I walk by her house at the corner of La Rampa and Paseo often enough) as well as a pleasant bartender from Cali, Colombia.
(the snacks at lunch time on offer were the creation of Chef Michele Bernstein of Miami. As if in homage, she had created Arroz con Pollo with Couscous)
It is a great testament to the USA that it welcomes all peoples and in Miami, it is the Latinos and the Caribbeans that dominate the landscape.
I am happy to be here.
as they say: Bienvenidos a Miami y sus playas