Friday, November 16, 2007

Bol'e Teipe y Tinta Rapida.

El Gallego Ambrosio, from a lost hamlet in the Galician geography was the only white man in his Cuban family.
He arrived in Cuba as a kid, to join the family of his uncle, and when he showed up at their bodega he found out that his whole Cuban-Galician family had perished in a fire, when he was still on the seas.
Not being able to return, he was "adopted" by a Cuban family, and he went to work at another bodega owned by one of his connationals from el terruño.
Ambrosio was a man of imposing presence, tall, heavy, with pale skin, jet black hair and blue eyes.
When I met him he lived in a small solar, he was already in his eighties, and he was the only white man in his Cuban family. He married a mulata, and they had a son, Antonio, who in turn married another mulata.
They had two children, Jose Manuel y Teresa.
But Antonio, who was amused that the children were black and with no trace of the Galician ancestry other than the eyes of their grandfather -against all genetic rules of thumb- gave them two very politically incorrect nicknames:
Jose Manuel, a rotund kid, was called Bol'e Teipe (as in a ball of black electrical tape) and Teresita was called Tinta Rapida (for the ink used to dye shoes, Antonio was a cobbler -he never worked for Castro, as far as I can tell)
The kids grew up with me, practically, and Jose Manuel grew into an accomplished man, he became a physician. Teresita became a rather successful French translator, and we saw each other very often.
Jose Manuel defected in Spain coming back from Iraq, when they used to send Cuban doctors there, under Satan Hussein's rule.
He went to live in the same town his grandfather was from, reconnecting with the long lost family members, to whom he told all the Cubans stories of el Viejo Ambrosio. He married a girl from town, and he's a successful country doctor in that area of Galicia, which is much less isolated today that it was in his grandfather's time.
Having defected, he could not visit Cuba, for obvious reasons.
He started telling about Cuba to all his acquaintances, most of them happened to have some old relative who either lived in the island of have lived and died in Cuba. One of this new-found friends went to Cuba periodically, with whatever goodies Jose Manuel could send to his father, mother, and sister. This man married Teresita, eventually, and he's the one who was able to take Antonio and Lazara, his in-laws, out of Cuba.
My friends are the only black people in that town -which they do not want me to name.
The townsfolk get pretty amused when the respectable doctor is seen with his elderly father, who calls him with his particular endearment term "Bol'e Teipe" in public. They told me that one man in the town's only bar -where one can also have great coffee- asked him why "Bol'e Teipe"..... Antonio, without missing a beat, said "because Bol'e Nieve was already taken!".
Teresita brought the remains of their grandfather -along with the grandmother's- to be interred in Galicia, thus completing the cycle where it begun.
This story could not be possible without Cuba.
Cuba would not be a reality without Spain.
Gracias Bol'e Teipe y Tinta Rapida for allowing me to share your story with our readers.
Esa es mi España.