Fernando’s Footsteps

by Tony Carreño

"Prepare to disembark!"

Even before the translation, Fernando understood, as the few English speakers hurriedly began organizing their baggage and documents. He grabbed his satchel, a "farewell" gift from his family in Spain. Holding his passport and immigration permit in hand, he anxiously made his way toward the line forming near the Mascotte's exit point.

As they approached the docks, he became aware, surprisingly, that his heart with racing with anticipation, and a bit of uncertainty. Cuba had been within his comfort zone, culturally familiar.

"Esto es Los Estados Unidos...inglés, sí...español, no!" he thought. Would he be able to adjust to the United States, a non-Spanish culture and language? For the first time since leaving his small village of San Román, Fernando felt a twinge of doubt.

A slight thud announced the arrival of Mascotte to the docks. As the gangplank was lowered, there was a collective anticipatory shuffling among the passengers in line. Fernando noticed that a small group of well-dressed passengers were escorted off the ship first. He wondered who they are.

"Quienes son ellos?" Fernando asked a Cuban man standing next to him.

"Son los turistas Americanos regresando de La Habana", explaining that they are the American tourists returning from Havana.

As Fernando descended the gangplank, he noticed how small and modest the port was.

"Tampa no es una ciudad, creo que es un pueblo"...Fernando had decided his new home was not a city, but a small town.

"Foreign passports to the left! Have all papers out for inspection!" Instructions were emphatically being shouted out, then translated into Spanish.

At the bottom of the gangplank, the young Spaniard briefly hesitated, lifted his right foot, then emphatically placed it on land. A combination of anticipation, optimism, pride and trepidation raced through his mind as he took his first step in the United States.

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This is a work of fiction. With the exception of references to known and publicly documented historical entities, the following apply:

Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental. ©Tony Carreño 2020