Throughout our trip we meet several Cubans, but by far Fernando’s story has stood out among us. Note he was also the only Cuban we meet that didn’t have a cousin, uncle, or whomever that worked at a Cohiba cigar factory trying to sell us cheaper cigars. Fernando was honest and never steered us wrong. We meet Fernando through our host Alvorez that setup us up for him to be our guide to Vinales on Saturday. During our two-hour trip to the back-country Fernando shared with me his story living in a Cuba. Fernando is technically an eye doctor, but does side jobs to make extra income to support himself.
Growing up Fernando had told me he knew he always wanted a Chevy. He managed to get enough money to purchase the car by selling pig parts door to door and with the help of his family in his early twenties. Till today he owns that exact car he purschased over 30 years ago. On a side note the car is older than he is. Throughout the years the car has undergone several color changes ranging from white, grey, and blue. The motor isn’t original nor American, it currently has a Toyota V6 motor. Fernando told me that older cars in Cuba are worth more with newer motors than the originals due to reliability reasons.
What touched me about Fernando was his story about being separated from his wife and daughter. Over four years ago Fernando had sent his wife and daughter to flee for the United States for a new life in the free world. They both currently reside in Miami and Fernando talks to them regularly from Cuba. Since their separation Fernando has been attempting to attain a visa to visit his family in the states. Due to his profession, the Cuban government will not allow him to do so. Fernando did consider fleeing by boat, but due to the removal of the embargo and dangerous trek through the ocean the risk isn’t worth it. He plans on repelling his denial and reuniting with his family once more now that the frontier has started to open up. Fernando’s story is one of many Cuban’s face daily. If you are ever in Havana give Fernando a call and have him as your guide or taxi tel. 52971579. Tell him Lucas the Brazilian from Florida sent you.