Big night last night! The start of the Memorial Day Weekend!
That means an influx of tourists to Key West for the weekend. Festivity in the air. Good for the tourists! Good for the merchants!
Dinner was scheduled for 7:30 at LaTrattoria. Donna was to meet my wife and I at the bar. Not Donna the barmaid. The other one.
It was 8:30 before Donna showed up. She was unreachable by phone. I was concerned. I thought either Mary Jo had died or some sudden tragedy had befallen Donna. None of the preceding. She overslept! After working starting at 6 am and all day, she lay down for a nap and never even heard the phone!
Anyhow, we were happy to finally see her! Also hungry! I had already had 3 drinks too many while waiting!
Besides Memorial Day, Key West is celebrating Cuban Heritage Weekend. Roots are important. And part of Key West’s heritage includes its Cuban population which came to Key West back in the 1800s. To place it all in proper perspective, they have been here longer than my people who started coming over from Italy in the early 1900s.
Key West’s Cuban Americans today are an entrenched vital part of the community. Many hold prominent positions of leadership in business and government.
You are probably wondering why I am getting into such depth regarding the Cuban Heritage Weekend. The answer is simple. There was a huge parade down Duval Street last night commerating the event. Bands, floats, dancers, singers. The whole works!
At some point during dinner I went outside for a cigarette. LaTrattoria is located on Duval Street. Iwalked into the middle of the parade!
What a great event!
And it brought back to mind Jose Marti.
There were many drawings and pictures of Marti on the floats and also being carried.
Marti is credited with being the Father of Free Cuba. He was a poet, writer, professor and leader. He also was a revolutionary.
The Spaniards were bad guys back in the 1800s. Marti was twice deported to Spain from Cuba. He was first imprisoned by the Spaniards at 16 for 6 years.
He was the George Washington of Cuban independence.
He died in the battle for Cuban independence in 1895. He was feared by the Spaniards. The custom was to burn the bodies of the war dead. The Spaniards would not burn Marti’s body. They considered him a devil and feared they would inhale his ashes to their detriment. So his body was buried. And properly so!
Marti resided for many years in Key West. His residence was the same building that now houses La Te Da. By the way, Marti’s full name was Jose la te da Marti.
Marti used to give rousing speeches for Cuban liberation from the porch on the second floor of La Te Da. The exterior of the buillding is the same today as it was then.
After dinner, we went where? To La Te Da, of course! For a joyful conclusion to a very happy, and thoughtful, evening!