National Geographic : 1973 Jul
When you come back later, then you pay me the two dollars." "No," he replied. "You keep it and...." We left before the dispute was settled. "Look there," Bob said. At an intersection ahead a stalled car with Pennsylvania tags was blocking traffic. As we watched, another driver pulled alongside it. "Bet you any thing the guy who's helping is a Cuban." He was right. The Samaritan took no more than a minute to link the batteries with a pair of jumper cables and send the stalled motorist on his way. His own car bore the bumper sticker one sees everywhere in Little Havana: "Volveremos-We shall return." "Like I said, they'll go out of their way to help you," Bob continued. "But on the other hand they won't tolerate abuse, from police or anyone else. Cubans are too conscious of their rights as human beings. After all, that's why they're here." He dropped me off at the parking lot where I had left my car. "A couple of weeks ago I picked up a Cuban kid joyriding in a stolen car," he said. "I brought him in and called his father to come and get him. Believe it or not, the old man cried. Said he'd rather be dead than see his kid standing there, arrested, bringing such shame on the family." "To us, the family means everything." The only time I could meet Sefior Ildefonso Alsina, his wife, and all their children together was late at night in their rented ranch-type home near the old Tropical Park Racetrack. Five of the six children attend school, and three of them hold jobs as well. Mr. Alsina is usually out during the day looking for work, but he is hampered by poor health and-every refugee's biggest problem-the language bar rier. In Havana, he told me, he had owned a small meat-packing plant, expropriated by the government. "When we left Cuba three years ago," he said in a voice chronically hoarse, "according to Castro we were sin patria-we had lost our country. But you cannot lose the coun try in your heart. You gave us a welcome and a chance to rebuild our lives. Ahora, siento amor por dos paises," he added with a smile. "Now I feel love for two countries. iEs un problema!" At 11 p.m. his eldest daughter, 22-year-old Aida, came home from her chemistry classes at Florida International University. Days, she Cuba's Exiles Bring New Life to Miami Barefoot balladeer, high-school student Maria L6pez serenades herself at Crandon Park (facing page). The beach on Key Bis cayne is a popular weekend haunt for the younger generation of Cuban exiles. Maria's songs dwell mostly on love and the dreamed of-day when her people will be able to go back over the water to Cuba. Daughter of the Cuban work ethic, Aida Alsina (below) holds down a part-time job as a laboratory technician. Evenings, she studies chemistry at a local college, then rushes home to pitch in with chores. Such hard work and self-sacrifice characterize the Cuban exile family.