Posts Tagged ‘Miami’

This is very interesting. Elian pops up again, 13 years later–the inspiration of my book.

CBS Miami

[worldnow id=9619151 width=420 height=266 type=video]

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – In his first trip outside of Cuba since 2000, Elian Gonzalez denounced the U.S. embargo against Cuba at a youth conference in Quito, Ecuador.

“It is the American government itself that, with an unfair blockade, causes a critical economic situation inside of Cuba,” Gonzalez, 20, said in an interview with CNN.

The young man who gained worldwide notoriety in the midst of an international custody dispute said life has been wonderful since his departure from the United States.

“I  haven’t had any long-lasting psychological trauma. It hasn’t affected me, but it has been hard on my family because those were difficult moments,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez was seized at gunpoint by federal agents from relatives in Miami who fought to keep him, even though his father wanted him back in Cuba.

The pre-dawn raid in April 2000 happened 5 months after Elian left…

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smallest post office

Cuban exile. American face with fair skin, green eyes and blonde hair. Not Cuban! Not an exile! Pretend not to care about Cuban culture and its affairs. Look American; act American, inwardly, craving to devour everything Cuban since time had cast a curtain erasing my cultural past. Sitting here and there, overhearing conversations about Cuba and Castro, stories as diverse as dots on a Dalmatian. Debates and arguments. “En Cuba, todo era diferente.” Everything was different in Cuba.
Cuban exiles! Sounds like a zombie movie. My freakin’ gosh–and I am one of those zombies. Not from the first wave but of the second wave. The first two waves left Cuba in search of political asylum–exiles running away from a government that oppressed them. Most of the Cuban exiles from the first wave favored Batista, the president before Castro. These wealthy Cubans were socialist capitalists when Castro seized the island and all of their property. My family left during the second wave of Cubans, skilled workers and small business owners who realized that Castro’s revolution was not what they had thought since Castro had lied to them about communist ideals. The new Cuban mantra for those who realized a little too late that Cuba was now communist: “We go to America, land of the free, for the American Dream!” The power these words had over my parents was amazing since these words ignited momentum and propensity when it came to their ability to work like mad ants at a fourth of July picnic, scurrying about in search for their American Dream. My parents, blinded by the promise of another dream–this time, instead of a Cuban Dream, it was an American one. To my parents, America became the new patria, or fatherland; to my parents, America became Camelot.
In time, trouble brewed in Camelot, though. Problems not thought of since according to my parents these problems did not exist in Cuba. During my teenage years, you see, my parents’ view of America and Cuba kind of reversed as now the land of the free was dangerous as could be when it came to raising me, and Cuba was where they wish they could be. “Este lugar no es Bueno para criar teenagers.”

“Oh my holy God. Mother? Father? What do you mean the land of the free is not a good place to raise teenagers?”

“This place is not for kids.”
“Mother? Father? What do you mean by that? What do you mean this place is not for kids?”

“Porque en Cuba, todo era diferente.” In Cuba, everything was different.

“Mami! Papi! This is not freakin’ Cuba! We are in the land of the free.”

They were afraid, my parents. you see. To let their daughter go next door to the neighbor’s house in the land of the free. It was too dangerous since your neighbor could be the Zodiac Killer, you see. According to my parents, in America, you could not trust anyone. “Let’s watch the television news. Look. Murder. Murder. Juanita, it’s just too dangerous to go out alone. It’s not safe. Too many crazies, Juanita. And, they want to kill kids! En Cuba todo era diferente.”
“Mother, can you expand on that? I’m confused about this land of the free; I can’t even visit my friend Sandra next door? She’s Cuban! They are Cuban!”
“In Cuba, girls weren’t sluts! Men didn’t attack women. Juanita, mi vida, en Cuba, todo era diferente.”

“OMG! Mother! Sluts? I’m just going next door. Besides, Cuba was dangerous! It was Mother! Father! What about the revolution? The murders? People disappearing? There are no murderers in Cuba? Men do not harass women? There are no slutty women in Cuba? I don’t understand! I don’t! What the hell did we come here for? So you could lock me behind a lock door?”

Juanita, en Cuba, todo era diferente.”

That was the day for me, I clearly came to see that I would forever be, isolated in the land of the free.”

Copyright 2013 by Iliana C. Hakes-Martinez



The Tamiami Trail was built with the intention of connecting Tampa and Miami. In fact, its name is a combination of the two cities. The trail was also meant to shine the spotlight on  Collier County, a county named so due to Barron Collier, a man who poured and showered all his wealth and energy on the land after he fell in love with the area. This area was wilderness when the project to develop it first twinkled in Collier’s eyes. It took 13 years and $8 million dollars to complete it. Unfortunately, the endeavor destroyed most of the Everglades since The Trail created a dam that cut the original water-flow, obliviating habitats of flora and fauna. As a result of the massive destruction of habitat, the Everglades saw the loss of an abundance of its original infrastructure. The Everglades today is almost less than half of the original size. In order to salvage what is left of the unique ecosystem, a Restoration Project is now in effect. 2013 is the estimated date of completion. There is still hope. Enjoy the rest of the views along The Trail!

Above is the view from the terrace off the second floor lounge inside of the Miccosukee Resort and Casino. This is a northern view.


Here is another view with part of The Trail visible. Don’t be surprised by the abundant road-kill. Hopefully, the new bridge will help avoid such accidents. The bridge is part of the Restoration project meant to allow the water flow from north to south once more. The flow begins south of Lake Okeechobee and empties in Florida Bay. The bridge is hope.


This is a Melaleuca Forest found along The Tamiami Trail in Miami. Lightning strikes burnt the forest to a crisp. It has now been a few years since the fire and new green areas emerge. This part of The Trail begins in Miami-Dade at about 157th Avenue and ends at the Miccosukee Resort and Casino. The Trail actually begins in Miami and ends in Tampa or vice-versa. It is a 275-mile long two-way enchanted highway. Hoped you enjoyed the views from this small 15-mile section of the Tamiami Trail.

Usually, when visiting South Florida, tourists end up at beaches to the east or the keys to the south. Some, however, visit the Everglades. Why visit? “It is the only one of its kind in the world–another one of the unique marvels of this planet.” ~Marjory Stoneman Douglas

For those who dare to take the adventure, the path that will lead them into the enchanted forest called the Everglades is the Tamiami Trail west. Here begins the adventure into a place where wilderness still exists.

One possible itinerary, especially for those who want to keep the wilderness at bay, is as follows. Begin the tour by 7:00 a.m. at the Miccosukee resort where a sumptuous buffet breakfast awaits. After breakfast, a tour of the resort with a stop at the casino may follow. Next, a stop at the Miccosukee Museum replete with Airboat Ride and Gator Show. Lunch at the Miccosukee Restaurant found just across from Shark Valley will prepare the tourists for the last activity of the day: The Tram Ride. This ride takes the tourists on a two-hour trip. The first hour heads towards an observation tower where 360 degree views astonish the on-looker. The last hour returns the tourist to the parking/snack area. During the ride, flora and fauna are plenty–the camera is a must as myriad of shots will be available for nature photography lovers.

The evening ends at the Barbeque Pit, recently purchased by Cubans. Here is another cultural stop: an out-door tiki-style restaurant with a live band playing salsa music — dance floor with flashing lights and all greets the stunned diners.

One warning, the Everglades is real wilderness. All flora and fauna are real and dangerous. By keeping safety rules in mind, tourists are able to have a most spectacular day.

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“Let each man take the path according to his capacity, understanding and temperament. His true guru will meet him along that path.”
―    Swami Sivananda

“Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter. You must feel the Force around you; here, between you, me, the tree, the rock, everywhere, yes.” ~Yoda/Star Wars

“Where flowers bloom so does hope.” –  Lady Bird Johnson, Public Roads: Where Flowers Bloom

Although winter arrives, the blooms in my tiny garden fight to sustain. Some have gone into slumber; some remain. Make certain, however, that their existence was not in vain. I’ll see them again after April Showers and May Rains. ~Voiceless

The orange peels were thrown into my tiny garden by my Mama who is certain that such a trick keeps kitties and other little beings away.  😀

Turning within, you find yourself on a long, lonely narrow path. Pilgrim, keep on going. Make and stay on your own path, for only then will you find what it is you seek: Your true self! ~Voiceless

You can count on me!

Whatever the secret may be, “Friend, you can always count on me!”

Happy Hallow’s Eve!

Bewitching twilight arrives. At our home, movies and sweets. No trick or treaters around. Here in Miami, Florida, the trend is for all to go to the mall. It is supposed to be safer, but I miss sitting home waiting for delightful and frightful trick or treaters. Happy Halloween all!


The final “chosen” Hunter’s Moon shot, taken on 10/29/2012, 8:00 p.m. About the quality, once again, some would argue that the picture needs to be sharper, cleaner–tools of the trade need to be upgraded; however, funds are tight. Others argue –myself ;)–that as canvas art, it is a “curious” piece to ponder. But, I do wish I had the upgraded equipment :D. Regardless, there is “something” here, a silvery liquidity sandwiched by denser substances.

Once again, I so long for professional equipment for a clearer and less grainy shot; however, I must add that when transferred to canvas, this shot is unique. That is a palm tree embracing the Full Hunter’s Moon with its fronds. Just above towards the left upper corner are leaves from an umbrella tree. I took this shot as the moon appeared on the horizon at about 8 p.m., 10/29/2012. Hope you enjoy it.

Almost Hunter’s Moon by Voiceless.

Miami’s Hideaway Tropical Forest Bistro by Voiceless.

Ever felt

like no matter what

road you take

you always end

up in the same place?



all you want

since all roads are winding–

choice deceivingly blinding.

Ultimately, destiny and fate

pay you a visit,

and you might as well

throw and wave your hands up in the air–

like you just don’t care.

No need

to allow your thoughts to stir

as the results are emotions gone wild.

Take the reins and fear no pain–

sing your tune, for it will all be over soon.

Winds of change they are,

making certain no one goes far–



it is

they must go.

Deck needs sanding and painting, mums and other blooms ready for planting. Wood for burning and food for the Harvest await…late night during the Hunter’s Moon, we will rejoice with gratitude and delight for this abundant and bountiful feasting. ~ Voiceless

“Where am I going? What am I going to do with my life?” Did you ever catch yourself mumbling these words, or hear someone else? Indeed, life is very strange as our destination is unknown because of change–our constant companion.

***Note: For a truly enjoyable experience, listen to the video while reading the post. Enjoy! 🙂

About 50 years ago, my family’s destination was quickly shoved off its trajectory just after the Cuban Revolution. Fidel Castro and his Communist Regime swiftly took over Cuba, destroying the dreams of many, including my father’s. At the time, he was an Accountant for the Coca-Cola company. My father had instilled the fact that I should pursue the same profession upon me early in my life as it was the chosen career for most of my family. However, change happened. As the communists began to confiscate private property, not to redistribute to the poor, but to keep for themselves, my father realized it was time to get his family out of Cuba. All Cubans seeking exile in America were the first to lose all their assets, and most had to do time at the Sugar Cane Farms.

Fidel Castro becomes the leader of Cuba as a r...

Before we left the island, each month, military trucks poured into Santiago to pick up what they called the “gusanos” or “worms.” That is what the about-to-be-exiled Cubans became–mere worms. My father disappeared for weeks as he was taken to the sugar cane farms, allowed to return home for a week and then returning to the cane plantations. Eventually, we all made it out, became U.S.A. citizens never to know about or return to Cuba again.

English: Coat of arms of Cuba. Español: Escudo...

English: Coat of arms of Cuba. Español: Escudo de Cuba. Русский: Герб Кубы. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Life is so strange as the consequences eventually revealed themselves. One was that my father’s trauma due to abandoning his country coupled with culture shock led him to a depression. While my mother worked two jobs, sometimes three, he sulked and cried. Until those first years in America, my father appeared as a god to me. Never had I seen him in this way. Those first years in America were the most depressing for me–I’ve never rid myself of the “yucky” feeling in my gut, unexplainable feeling that makes one want to vomit. My father laid in bed for many months, only waking to stroll to the toilet. As time passed, he eventually began to attend to my sister and me, taking us to the park across the street, always in silence, letting a chuckle out here and there as he watched us ride bike and do the sorts of things little girls do in a park.

Time passed. Instead of returning to school to enhance his poor English speaking and writing abilities as well as to gain re-certification in Accounting, he became a steel worker, which although very lucrative financially, the hours and dangerous labor took a toll on my father’s health–aging him quickly. He was only 27 at that time, yet he looked like 57.

More years passed, we settled. Now, he wanted to relive his dream to be an accountant through me, always reminding me how important it was to continue the family’s choice of career and tradition. I hated numbers and accounting; I couldn’t see myself toiling with that crap for the rest of my life. But, he insisted that the only way he would pay for my college was if I majored in Accounting. Nursing was my calling, but I decided to listen to my father.

Life is so strange, indeed. Initially, I did attempt Accounting but ended up dropping out one semester short of graduating with a 2.7 average–I could not get through Accounting II; I could not get through Business Law. I could not get through a lot of stuff. It was not meant for me. To avoid his wrath, which at times was insane, I married, focusing on motherhood. In addition, I became a debt collector–close to Accounting. It made my father happy as he thought I was preparing to jump back on that bandwagon. That thought was far from my mind. My destination, to me, was unknown.

Today, I hold two bachelors and two masters–none in business or accounting. I’m more of an artist–something I did not discover until, well, now. All I can say is that I should have listened to my heart and soul. Yet, at that time I could not since I love my father dearly and had watched his crash from a jolly, robust man into a bitter, dessicated one. In an attempt to make him happy, I thwarted my progress. If you want to call it that. If I had to do it again, I would not change a thing. By taking the detour, enriching experiences I did have–so many things I have witnessed.

English: Downtown Miami on July 4, 2007

English: Downtown Miami on July 4, 2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Below is a family gathering picture during my father’s favorite holiday–4th of July. That’s me with the nerdy, flowery shirt–that’s him, my father, with the American T-shirt–his favorite. My sister is in the background, in the sun–the rest: What my father calls his American grandchildren!

What is the point of my tale? For some of us, change bleeds into our life, destroying old patterns and confirming that although all may seem fixed and unmovable, all is in flux. Destination is unknown.

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Sitting on my Adirondack chair, enjoying the Florida-style fall, I glance towards the baby blue sky, sparsely dotted with puffs. Australian Pine needles glisten in the sun and sway in the cool breeze that envelops my being. What a lovely day to become one with Nature, to wonder about its ways and ponder about patience–that’s all needed to understand the why of this very moment, and why it is what it is. See through my looking glass…there is more here if you only look deeper. All is not as it seems.