Armando – the Fisherman
Armando is a simple man, who works for everything he gains, in every aspect of life. Finding ways to survive and improve life for himself and his small family consume his total focus. Sitting by the harbor in Havana, he uses fishing line, with no reel, in his hands to fish for sardines for his family. Times are difficult in Cuba and in order to have enough food for him, his wife and his 3-year-old daughter, he spends the evenings fishing with line directly in his hand and only one hook.
Armando has always sought a better life for himself. He is observant, but humble, hopefully yet bold in his risks. Once during his life, he made the dangerous 90-mile voyage from Havana to Miami in a boat with a small motor, no longer than 10 feet.
He describes the seas as very rough and the journey as perilous. Although hundreds of Cubans throughout history have made this trip, it is one of high risk. He’s known others who drowned taking the very same route. During his own experience, with the highly trafficked Caribbean seas, massive cruise liners pass by the small motorboats frequently. The massive waves the cruise ships leave in their wakes caused Armando’s own boat to capsize while out at sea. He and all his companions made it safely back to the boat and, after great effort while treading water, flipped the boat right side up to continue the journey to Miami.
While in Miami, Armando found work in any fields he could: manufacturing, construction, server, anything to save money and send back to his wife, and at the time, newborn daughter. The distance apart, the longing to be together and the priority of family, all took a back seat to the priority of surviving and just providing for daily meals. Yet after less than a year, Armando was deported back to Cuban where he lives now today.
In discussing his future, Armando was like many Cubans. He said, “That question is such an American way of thinking, you think about your future because you have opportunities. When you don’t know if you will have enough food to eat each day, the future is not a concept you can even think about.”
He hopes commerce in Cuba will rise with less restrictions from the foreign countries, specifically the United States. With more free tourism, free trade and increased job opportunities for the Cuban people, he believes not only he, but many of his people can rise out of their poverty.
Life is tough for Armando, a constant search for means to meet his basic needs of food, water, and shelter. Yet he also finds ways to maintain a meaningful pastime. Armando collects old coins and has several that are over 50 years old. His simple pleasures help him through the difficulty of trying to feed a family with a full time job making barely more than $40 a month, so he spends much time away from his family to provide for their needs.
He feels that people misjudge him as unintelligent or uninformed, but his life experience has given him a perspective into a life only those who fight each day for their food can understand. He dreams to travel, he dreams to gain more knowledge, he hopes for more freedom and to impact the world, but until he can provide for his family and more, he remains constantly focused on working, fishing and providing food.
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