We stepped off the plane and walked into the airport. Around us were hundreds of people of all races. Rolando was right, all around me I saw blonde headed girls. Tears sprung to my eyes as I thought for the first time that I might never see Rolando or any of my other friends again. As I ran to catch up to my parents, I saw an American family sitting down eating hotdogs with ketchup, mustard and relish. As we walked past them I heard them speaking in the same language as the flight attendants. I suddenly realized that this transition was going to be harder than I had ever thought. How was I supposed to learn a whole new language? Mama and Papa led us all over the airport until we finally came to a Spanish-speaking couple.
"Excuse us, could you help us find our way? We don't really know where to go," Mama said to them nervously.
"Yes, certainly, are you native to Cuba? We fly frequently and often meet people just like you!" The man said kindly.
"Yes, thank you so much." Papa replied.
The man and woman led us through the winding building through large crowds. There were so many people and I immediately knew that Oscar had been wrong, everyone seemed so kind and welcoming. This America was nothing like the America they showed us in school. This only fueled my hatred for Fidel more as we arrived at a desk. The man casually said to the woman behind the desk something in English then turned to us.
"This woman is a translator; she will help you make arrangements. I wish you and your family good luck, and welcome to America!"
Boy was that music to my ears! I squeezed Esther's hand and she looked up with a wide smile assuring me that she felt the same way. The translator was very nice and helped us make arrangements for a taxi to the nearest hotel. She showed us our way and said goodbye. Papa thanked her and tried to give her a few American dollars but she refused it.
"Use that on your family Señor Calcines, buy your children their first American luxuries."
With that we walked to our taxi. The driver spoke Spanish and I silently thanked the translator for setting this up. My family and I crowded into the taxi and started our journey to the hotel. The driver talked to Mama and Papa while Esther and I sat amazed looking out the window at all the tall buildings and cars whizzing by us. We must have seen a dozen ice cream shops in the ten minute drive to our hotel. When we arrived, Papa thanked the man and paid him just as he did in Cuba. We got our room number and key and walked to our room. The room must have been as big as our whole house in Cuba. We all collapsed on the huge, fluffy bed.
"Is this where we are going to live for the rest of our lives Papa?!" Esther asked excitedly.
"No, Esther. We are just staying here temporarily while we try to find a permanent home." Papa replied.
"But it's so nice here! This bed is the comfiest and fluffiest thing I've ever felt!"
"I promise I will get you a comfy and fluffy bed wherever we live. Now who's hungry?!"
Papa and mama were very tired from our journey so they gave Esther and I some American money to go get dinner with while they stayed in the room.
"Be safe and polite Eduar. Take care of your sister," Mama said as we were walking out the door.
Esther and I went to the elevator to go down to the main floor where the receptionist told us the restaurant was. The elevator ride was so weird; I'd heard of them before but never imagined I'd ride on one. We found the restaurant and sat down. A worker came over to us and asked us something in English. I didn't know what he asked but I assumed it was what we wanted. I didn't know what to say at first so I said the only thing I knew of.
"Hotdogs and Coca-Cola por favor."
I guess he understood because he went to the kitchen and brought back two hotdogs loaded with ketchup and mustard and even relish. He also brought two cups full of the delicious brown liquid I now knew as Coca-Cola.
"Are you ready Esther? This will be our first American meal and your first hotdog!" We lifted the hotdogs to our mouth.
"Like this Esther, on the count of three, 1…..2…….3!" I bit into the most delicious thing I'd ever tasted. This was even better than the gum that Tía Dínorah sent us when we were still in Cuba. I looked over at Esther whose eyes were opened wide in amazement.
"Eduar thank you so much for getting me this. I love America! The food is delicious, the furniture is comfy, and the people are so nice! I want to stay here forever!"
We gobbled down the rest of our food and paid. We decided to walk around the hotel for a bit before going back to the room. We walked past lots of people who all smiled as they passed us. We walked by a room that was filled with glowing screens that people were staring at. There were double doors that led out to the most beautiful pool I'd ever seen.
After, what must have been an hour we made our way back to the elevator and went back to the room. We walked in and found Mama and Papa fast asleep on the bed. Esther and I walked over to the curtains and pulled them open. We looked out the window in amazement at the huge city before us. This is the country in which we would live for the rest of our lives. This is where we would build our own families, away from Castro's power. Although we were uncertain about what would happen next, we knew that everything would be okay because we were free.