Long Journey Home

Three decades after his parents sent him into lonely exile, Tony Gonzalez returned to Cuba to face his demons

Steve Satterwhite
Click to enlarge photo

Tony and his sister Maria Eugenia (center) are finally reunited following the journey from Miami (left column and right column, top to bottom): The Continental departure gate at MIA; from a window seat in row 13, Tony sees Cuba for the first time in 32 years; abuela's body is removed from the cargo hold; Tony touches down at José Martí International Airport; Tony's provocative friend from Miami, José Diaz; common on the streets of Cuba: old American cars and socialist propaganda; during the journey from Havana, Tony sees through the window a Cuban countryside unchanged since he left; curious Cubans step aside as the red van passes through small towns on the way to Bayamo
Photos by Steve Satterwhite
Click to enlarge photo

Tony and his sister Maria Eugenia (center) are finally reunited following the journey from Miami (left column and right column, top to bottom): The Continental departure gate at MIA; from a window seat in row 13, Tony sees Cuba for the first time in 32 years; abuela's body is removed from the cargo hold; Tony touches down at José Martí International Airport; Tony's provocative friend from Miami, José Diaz; common on the streets of Cuba: old American cars and socialist propaganda; during the journey from Havana, Tony sees through the window a Cuban countryside unchanged since he left; curious Cubans step aside as the red van passes through small towns on the way to Bayamo

A few minutes later, when Tony is called to the back of the house by one of his sisters, his mother Lesbia takes a break from frying yuca and sits at the dining-room table. A handsome, dignified, no-nonsense woman, she is accustomed to being the composed center of a swirling family. And she is not tempted to second-guess decisions, especially ones that no parent should ever have to make. "I know he is searching for something," she says of her eldest child. "When he left Cuba it was hard for everyone. But that's over. We are here now."

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