I’m sitting poolside. A palm tree prevents the sunburn, sun rays consolidate my good humour.
I’m on the verge of leaving Latin America behind for a while. A plane ticket to the United States sits comfortably in my pocket, together with a ticket to my home country a fortnight later.
All is arranged. ESTA (Western European ‘quick visa’ for the U.S.), hotels, transport, itinerary and tickets for mayor attractions. The passport is ready to collect another stamp.
And that’s where the issue arises.
Whilst ensuring that all paperwork is in order, a day before departure, I learn that people that have visited Cuba are not allowed into the U.S. with an ESTA (‘quick visa’). I need to go through the official procedure (interview at the embassy in the Netherlands, months of waiting and $$$).
The two Cuban stamps in my passport smile at me, confirming my destiny.
I cancel all reservations and throw a bag of money into the abyss.
Negativity tries to put me in a chokehold, but her arms around my waist protect me from pessimism. Her voice makes disturbing thoughts dissolve.
I choose to focus on what’s good and appreciate the additional quality time it grants me with her.
She and I drive out to mesmerising nearby villages to celebrate our unplanned extra time together. We visit ancient Aztec temples, stand on top of mountains, randomly get caught up in a carnaval and enjoy the delicious cuisine.
Amidst all the touristy endeavours we start talking about a possible future that involves the two of us. Wonder, doubt and excitement in a melting pot. Two question marks facing each other, slowly morphing into a heart.
A misunderstanding shatters that heart, exposing its fragility. It turns a potential future into the past.
Poolside and palm tree changes into a shabby hotel room I did not want to visit.
The room smells like filled up ashtrays and cheap perfume. The walls aren’t able to withhold the sound of tv-programmes and disappointing sex coming from the neighbours’ room.
I’m laying on this mattress made out of stone, trying not to overthink the origin of these stains surrounding me.
I merely wonder. I wonder if I was close to love this time.
My flight gets rebooked for a final time. Seemingly ending this trip how I began it: laying on a bed in the cheapest hotel room, earplugs attempting to cancel the noise, staring at the ceiling.
Yet the outside doesn’t reflect the inside in the slightest.
Because I love my life, I cherish what I have done and I know I’ll make it through.
I smile, I sigh. Then I finally go home.
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