In 1977, my wife and I made our first trip to Mexico. Over years later I alone visited Mexico eight more times. It is a beautiful country, rich in culture and history, also noted by careless tourists as Montezuma’s revenge. My wife and I were careful and never were afflicted by Montezuma nor his bitter revenge.
My Spanish at that time was rather limited and my wife spoke none at all. Ordering foods in hotels and restaurants was difficult. There were no kosher eating places at the time and my wife managed to speak with perfection only one Mexican request which she used frequently… dos huevos duros por favor… two hard-boiled eggs please. That’s all she would eat every day.
On a trip down the coast from Mexico City we arrived at the beautiful seashore city of Acapulco. After checking into our luxurious hotel we prepared for the bus which was to take us on a tour of the charming city.
Waiting for the bus we began a conversation with a beautiful smiling young couple. They had just arrived in Acapulco a day after their wedding and were honeymooning in Mexico. The happy bride, Alba Tor, was a native of Cuba who had fled with her parents to the USA following the Mexican revolution. She had met and married an American fireman, Charles called “Pat,” tall, charming and very much in love with his new bride.
We enjoyed our conversations with them and simply loved being in their company. Especially Alba with the brightest smile… the young bride who had come from Cuba with love.
When Rahel and I left Mexico and returned home with pleasant memories of Mexico we promised to keep in touch. And keep in touch we did!
Fortunately, Alba was an excellent pen-pal and our communications which are frequent several times every week have continued happily for almost 45 years.
Every Jewish and Christian holiday is remembered. From their home in Florida come packages filled with delightful treats accompanied by Alba’s love-letters.
She and Pat have remained among our very dearest and cherished friends over many years. They have shared my deep grief since Rahel’s death in 2016 and Alba shares my love for our Israeli Canaan dog, Atara Carmit. In every one of her e-mails to me Alba always concludes with “hugs and kisses for lady Carmit”.
Although they have never visited in Israel they are devoted to our history, culture, religion and achievements.
One of Alba’s closest Catholic friends, Grace, has visited Israel more than a dozen times and is in love with the country. I nominate her to be an honorary citizen of our country (only if she promises never to vote for Netanyahu or the Likud party).
I am not a good tour guide but I have offered Alba and Pat complete hospitality in our apartment in Rishon Lezion. While sitting on our large balcony sipping Israeli coffee (not the best coffee in the world), they can plan their tours of Tel-Aviv, Jerusalem, the Christian holy places in Galilee and the glories of the Dead Sea and magnificent Eilat in the south. Friend Grace can plan out the best places to visit and to stay.
Although we had not seen Alba and Pat since their 1977 honeymoon, Rahel and I often thought of them and spoke of them with much love, especially for la muy guapa bellisima senora fantastica de Cuba.
Interestingly, Alba asks why there are so many shops and stores in all of our big shopping malls with the name “Castro”. For Cubans it is the detested name of the dictator who stole democracy from Cuba.
My daughter who lives close to me has never met Alba but she considers them family and shares my love for them. Friends of almost 45 years have become our family. We talk, we write, we share, we love.
Charles (Pat) whom Alba married was a fireman by profession. He succeeded in putting out fires wherever they occurred. Happily, however, he never put out the fire of his love for Alba. No fireman could ever quench the flames of love which continue to burn.
From Cuba with love to two Israelis with love, Alba is embedded in my heart. And will remain there as long as I remain on the earth which separates us by distance… but never separates us by love.
El amor es por siempre. Love is forever.