(The below passage comes from Freddy Castillo, a business owner in St. Petersburg. His words were translated by his daughter Amaris)
My childhood was beautiful, there was a lot of love at home. My cousins grew up next door to me. We had a lot of freedom. They didn’t keep us locked in the home. We hung out outside a lot. We didn’t have many toys, but we had fun more in the past than kids now with their Nintendo and their vaina (stuff). We did a lot of exercise outdoors — we’d run a lot.
Near my house there was an empty lot with many fruit trees that belonged to the government at the time. We’d go and eat a lot of fruits. There were mangoes, guayabas, passion fruits, cherries. My favorite fruit? The ciruela. They’re like prunes. Those were my favorite. There was also a huge abandoned oven there – it was like a mountain shape with two holes in it that we used to play in. We would go in, we would hide from each other, play tag there. We would also look for small animals to play with; there were snakes and lizards that look like… Geico.
We were very happy because we would make our own toys. For example, we’d grab two empty motor oil cans, put a stick through the middle and we’d play with that. We acted like we were working in construction. The empty lot is now filled with houses. I passed by it on my last trip to Santo Domingo. But that was many years ago that they built houses there, like 30 years ago. I can still see myself there as a young boy. There are many things that I see that – when I return – my imagination takes me back in time. My thoughts return to the past. When I go to El Malecon, I can see myself as a little boy when my mom didn’t want me to go there because she was afraid I would get hit and killed by a car. That was the only place she didn’t want us to go. I would go anyway in secret [Laughs] and the fisherman by El Malecon would spot us and help us cross the street… these memories still come to mind.
I have many memories, but there are so many I can’t tell them all. They’re innumerable – I don’t even know where to start.
My country is beautiful. The only thing bad thing is that it’s a rich country, but poorly administered. By that, I mean the administrations that have gone through the country have enriched their pockets and in reality they haven’t done anything for the poor class.
But it’s beautiful.