Miriam Tamargo Biosca
The one thing that has stayed with me all my life was the fact that my luggage was "lost" and all those precious new new undies, socks, shorts, shoes, and dresses my mom had painstakingly purchased for my new life in the States never arrived with me. I waited weeks to no avail. Some daughter of some high-ranking henchman in Cuba no doubt was enjoying the booty while I inconsolably cried at night in some hand-me-down nightie. Life sometimes just didn't seem fair.
In fact, when I arrived my name was immediately altered. My passport had shortened my name to simply Miriam (Singular Middle Name) Tamargo> Yet as anyone who knows anything about Cuban culture is aware, one's heritage is everything, as evidenced by one's long list of last names that provide irrevocable proof of one's pedigree. Moreover, it seems up to then I had falsely believed that my middle name was Mercedes; at least that's what my parents had told me. But oh no, I found out my real name was Adelaida--an excruciatingly ugly name for a tender 9-year old girl
And my name wasn't the only thing different about me in America. Compliments of my password, I was now a day older. No charting the stars to divine my destiny for the future without a clue as to exactly when I was born left a vast void of uncertainty. Was my birthday October 17 or was it the new date, October 16?
Now, my stay in America as a Pedro Pan child was fairly tame. No horror stories. No abuse. Just my older sister, two older brothers and me traveling from Miami to Cincinnati and staying at an "orphanage" that was really more like a boarding school of sorts for kids of parents going through a divorce or tough times. There were no babies and there were but two high-schoolers: my sister and a boy who kept running away.
I went to live with the Goodman family, and my two brothers went to live with nearby families. My foster father was a Spanish professor at Xavier University and his wife was fluent in French, wore teeny bikinis to tan and complained about teachers being way underpaid. The family lived a very busy social life. Visitors from all over the world seemed to be always popping up all the time; and during the evenings, my two foster sisters and I spent a lot of time with babysitters.
Well, by the time I was 11 years-old, both my parents had arrived to the Great Promised Land, and my sister, brothers and I were on our way to Miami to reunite with them. That's when the real "fun" began. Cucarachas and jubilance for the whole family. But more about that later.