Email from Cuba!

     At first, not being able to read much Spanish, we thought the email was spam. But we could understand enough to wonder if it could possibly be intended for us personally. But who would write us from Cuba? People at the high school where Mike gave some copies of our Spring issue? Then Mike thought to check the contact information that our young rescuer had given us. Sure enough, the email address is Gisela’s, the young woman who led us to her grandparents’ house, went running half a km in the midday blistering sun to phone for an ambulance, and then spent two hours entertaining us with flowers and chickens! If you missed reading about this, see our first blog post about this.
     Thanks to Ursula Vielkind, a German translator who knows Martha Ruben, a Spanish translator, we were able to read the letter. Thanks, Ursula and Martha, you’ve helped with international relations! Here is what Gisela wrote:
     Hello, how are you? I am fine. I would like to know how Gloria continued with her leg. Sometimes I look at the photo on the magazine. I hope that we continue being friends and that you do not have a bad opinion of my country because of what happened. Here we (the Cubans) are very helpful. I am well, my grandparents are well. Recently I finished the English course that I was taking. I like this language. I am working on the same job, but soon I am planning to work on Silla Gibara camping site because it is close to my home and I like to work as a waitress. Please, answer soon, greetings for both. The journal for which you work is very nice. Greetings.
     How kind is Gisela’s follow up and concern? She’s even worried that we might not like Cuba! We replied to her that my leg has healed completely and that the Cuban doctor did a great job. All the Canadian doctors I saw, and there were three as I shuttled between my GP and the Emergency Department a few times when there was concern over infection, agreed that the Cubans had fixed me up well. A note about infection of the knee: apparently, if the joint becomes infected, surgery is required. Hence the uncertainty over the inflammation at the wound. Yikes! But all went well. As I said recently, I am now ready to resume my career as a leg model.
     The only negative in this whole adventure was Sunwing’s inability to find a way for me to elevate or even stretch out my stitched, weeping knee on the flight home. I was jammed into a tiny seat space which forced my knee into a sharp right angle for four hours. A stewardess gave me pillows to cushion my knee against the sudden reclining position of the person in front of me. He, however, was kind enough to keep his chair still after I told him I had an injured knee. You’d think Sunwing could have found space for me somewhere, even a stewardess’s jump seat, so I could have rested my leg.
     But all is well now, and we’re pleased to be e-penpals (e-pals?) with our new Cuban friend Gisella. And I’m happy that she said she likes our magazine. She’s generous and has great taste, as well!


  • Gloria. I have quantities of small packets of soaps, shampoos and conditioner that I won’t ever be able to take to Cuba as, because of hubby’s health, we can’t travel too far from home. Is there any way that these can be sent to cubs, to Gisella? I’m sure that she could use them, or hand them out to others to use. They are in excellent condition (have been stored for some time). We received them from the hosts of all the accommodations where we stayed during all our travel writing assignments gratis from the accommodations where we stayed.

  • Hi Gloria,
    What a wonderful denouement. That Gisela was an angel, and will forever be a symbol of Cuban generosity and spirit.
    Thanks for sharing.

  • I agree, Chris. Pat, if you like, you can drop off or mail your packets to us at 50 Ann St., Georgetown ON L7G 2V2. Maybe we’ll fill Barbara’s walking cast with goodies and mail it to the hospital in Cuba. Thanks for reading & commenting!

  • What the heck happened to your leg, Gloria. But in the end this is a wonderful story of international cooperation. people are most generous everywhere when it really comes down to it! Glad you are doing well.

  • It’s quite a story, Ruth. To read about my wayward leg, see That’s the start, and the tale continues in a few instalments. This story has “legs” too!

  • What a kind and thoughtful person this Gisela is. She puts Cuba in a far different light than any politician has. Let her know in your correspondence that some Canadians are impressed and wish her and her country well.
    Barbara in Erin ON

  • Here’s a message from Martha Ruben, who kindly translated Gisela’s email. She says she didn’t edit her message for publication, but it looks great to me:
    “I finally read your blog and liked the article about Cuba… I was not surprised … 22 years ago I visited Cuba, I was pregnant with my third child and travelled with my two other children who were 2 and 5 at that time… My husband was already in Cuba, at a conference. This was the only time I visited this country and my memories of that travel are very treasured… I was the queen there!!!
    It started with the plane, Cubana airlines; the flight attendant took my 5 years old boy to see the pilot!!! He still remembers it! and she was all the time asking me if I needed anything… All the time I was in Cuba, wherever I was, EVERYBODY treated me with such love and respect for me and the children!!! I never found anything similar anywhere else where I travelled rich or poor… They got fruits, milk, anything we needed, especially for us. They carried the children and my luggage… they moved me to the front everywhere I was, they got everything I wanted or even everything I thought that I might need… I will never forget them and their generosity!”
    Thanks for sharing your experience, Martha.

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Gloria Hildebrandt

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