The last couple of months involved trying to finish the proposal for this project…now back to research and writing. Combining so called business with pleasure, my children and I have come to another tropical island not far from Cuba: Key Biscayne, off Miami. Here, I can find inspiration among the palm trees, ocean and of course, with many cafecitos cubanos. During the day, the children work hard at their tennis camp and I split my time between a little exercise, a little sun and lots of hours at the Cuban Heritage Collection (CHC) at University of Miami.
Summer research in Miami is not easy! The CHC makes it particularly difficult due to its setting in a glassed walled pavillion allowing gorgeous views of the lushly green and landscaped Coral Gables campus. The palm trees sway, too much light hits the computer screen and suddenly, reading about Cuba circa 1802 is rather difficult.
But on the other hand, where else could you be so thoroughly surrounded by all things Cuban? Everyone there is researching about Cuba. One lady over there has stacks of books on Cuban music, that one over there has box files full of some old Cuban magazines. Lord only knows what they are all looking for — and I am sure they wonder about me too as I ask for such arcane books as Necrópolis de la Habana — Historia de los Cementarios de esta Ciudad (a 19th century book about, believe it or not, Havana cemeteries and curious anecdotes about people and families buried there).
But seriously, time flies in this place and it really is as close to Cuba as I will come until I travel there, hopefully, later in the year. I somehow doubt that it will be quite as air-conditioned and comfortable there as it is here in this little oasis of all things Cuban, so close yet so far away!
Nighttime is when I feel particular inspiration. Sitting on a balcony, hearing the waves and looking out at the huge Moon Over Miami, spilling its light over the sea like a spotlight, it is easy for me to recall a similar setting over 200 years ago. The young Mercedes looks out from her balcony window at the moonlight and listens to the sounds of the sea… and thinks it is magical. Hopefully, some of that moonlit magic will creep into this project and into my writing…. recalling these memories from 90 miles away.