An Escape | Teen Ink

An Escape

January 31, 2019
By 21kendom BRONZE, The Woodlands, Texas
21kendom BRONZE, The Woodlands, Texas
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

**this is a personal essay written from the point of view of my uncle who I interviewed. 

I step off the plane at twelve years old, fleeing a home ripped apart by a revolution. As I take my first steps into the US my passport is taken away by a priest. In a sea of Cuban children, I still feel so alone. Back in Cuba, Castro’s government has brought my father in as I too am put into custody, camp Matacumbe. This is what they promised, America. The water slaps me clinging to my face the cold biting at my toes and fingers as I swim to the other end of the pool. I get up and stand on the edge, the weak chlorine and dirt mix in my eyes as I dry off with a hand towel.  I watch fifty more kids complete their lap. Our once a week bath. The piercing cry of the whistle screeches, this means dinner if you can even call it that. What they give us here makes me long for the arroz con frijoles negros and the lechóns we would have with my family, but here there is no family and no food. I can almost imagine the rancid meat to be as smoky crisp skin of the pork. The camp prepared for one hundred kids but there are over five hundred of us. We are barely eating, barely living but I heard from la bola that there are many places far worse than us; kids in the camp in Kansas are mistreated and abused like many other kids in this program. I know people are planning to escape and soon security will become stricter. Camarón que se duerme se lo lleva la corriente, I tell myself. Tonight, tonight is when I will escape. I leave as the sky turns dark and the stars shine as bright as in Pinar del Rio and everything falls into a black and white picture. The snakes slither through the pine needles and the grass crunches under my broken shoes, but I make it to the highway. I walk for what seems like miles, my legs buckling beneath me when I hear that dreaded sound. The siren rings out like an air raid cutting through the night's silence and the blue lights shined and reflected off the night sky. The next day I am in an office with a man who speaks broken Spanish, but he plans to send me to Kansas to get me out of his way. I tell him I know what they do to kids in Kansas and that I am to escape again tonight. His brow furrows in anger. He begins to swing but the viejo wants to avoid a fight so, displeased, he sends me to someone else. Tired, my eyes falling under the weight of last night's escape, I make a decision that will change my life. Los Angeles, he sends me to Los Angeles. My parents don’t know where I am, no one does. I don’t exist. I am alone in America. I leave with two other kids to join a foster care system across the country, farther from my Cuba. As I leave Miami, I can smell the humidity, the haze thick like syrup in the air. I step off the plane at thirteen years old, fleeing a childhood to look for a new life in California.


The author's comments:

I interviewed my uncle, José Angel Gonzales as he is an example of how many members of the Cuban American community came to America and how the revolution affected that generation. He also has made a great impact in Cuba and on American politics. He came to the US with a program by the CIA founded on false propaganda about the Soviets called “Pedro Pan” or “Peter Pan” and was kept for a few months in a camp in the Everglades before joining a foster family in Los Angeles. I recorded and transcribed the interview though it was over an hour long. I learned a lot about what that generation went through when they came to America as well as more about what happened to my family that was stuck in Cuba. I also learned that I need to diversify my questions as he answered most of them with one answer.


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