He knocked on my door when the Brazilian soap opera was starting. He was sweating, after climbing several flights of stairs with his bike in tow. “I’m going to Spain,” he cried, by way of greeting. To give me time to get over my surprise he greeted my wife, returned the USB drive we were using to share information, and threw out the question to force my sense of hospitality, “Can’t a guest a get a cup of coffee in this house?”
While I was making the coffee he told me about his Spanish grandfather, the law of grandchildren, the paperwork, the trips to Havana, and to top it off he showed me his Spanish passport, still smelling like new, as one who exhibits a sacred talisman. After the coffee we went out to smoke on the balcony and he explained to me that a cousin who lives in New Jersey had just sent him the money for his trip and that two other partners would receive him and help him out in the first moments. He ended by assuring me he already had a trustworthy person to send letters, so hopefully I can continue to publish on the blog.
After he left, I realized that this is the last of my great friends who has left me here. The old times are gone, irretrievably. Robe was the soul of the gang, and when it began to scatter throughout the world, he managed to keep track of all the travelers. We went to him to know the news, addresses and telephone numbers. That night, his announcement left me with mixed feelings. Usually I am glad to know that someone is leaving, whether a famous person or simply the son of a neighbor. I’m happy because I think everyone has the right to choose what to do with his life and where to do it. I’m happy because after living more than twenty years of the same, some kind of change is welcome. But it also made me sad, and not just for me, losing a great friend. It is painful to see that the lack of hope continues to determine our course. Sad to predict the future of a country that bleeds in its perpetual stubbornness.
Today it’s two months since Roberto left. He has written me an email and we talked briefly on the phone. The first thing he said was that he missed my coffee. Afterwards he told me about his work, it’s not in a comfortable office like he had here, but it lets him live in “lodgings” in the house of the partners and soon he will send money to the family he left behind. Before saying goodbye, joking, he blurted out, “Guajiro, now no one is missing but you…”