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71990For Cubans, Nassau Is a Magical City

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  • PL
    Mar 13, 2012
      Yoani Sanchez - Award-winning Cuban blogger

      For Cubans, Nassau Is a Magical City
      Posted: 03/12/2012 11:00 pm

      She climbs the stairs of the plane. In her handbag she carries glasses,
      a bit of a sandwich she couldn't finish eating, and the passport that
      identifies her as a Spanish citizen. But it is not yet the time to show
      it. While in Cuban territory she can only show the other one, the blue
      one with its shield displaying a solitary palm, which declares she was
      born in Havana. She has already gone through customs, gracefully passing
      by the official who checked her permission to leave, and has paid,
      reluctantly, the excessive airport tax. The loudspeakers announce that
      her plane is leaving for the Bahamas, and she knows she is about to
      experience a transformation. She doesn't even listen when the flight
      attendant welcomes her aboard, nor does she notice the lit signal that
      alerts her to fasten her seatbelt. Her mind is concentrated on the
      stripping of one citizenship and the assumption of another, shaking off
      the fence of insularity to feel part of the world.

      Like her, many other compatriots take a flight to Nassau with the
      intention of using their Spanish nationality. They leave Cuba showing a
      national ID and land on the island of New Providence presenting their
      other identity as members of the European Union. The transformation
      occurs in the air, in the miles that separate the Antilles from the
      Bahamas, in that strip of blue that separates the two archipelagos.
      Doing this will allow them to enter the territory of the United States
      without a visa, avoiding the suspicious looks at the checkpoints where
      they arrive. Lynden Pindling International Airport is the place of
      metamorphosis, the place to assert the dual nationality that is not
      recognized in their own country.

      And later comes the moment of return, of experiencing the mutation
      again, but in reverse. The plane lands at Terminal 5 in our capital, and
      family members keep their eyes peeled, searching for the new arrival. A
      customs official reels off the questions, and they send her into a room
      to have her luggage minutely searched. At the bottom of her handbag
      rests her Spanish passport, that red-covered booklet she saves to return
      someday to Nassau, to that magical island where, unlike Alice's mirror,
      the world is not reflected in reverse but to the right.