There is only one place to go in order to start to understand the inextricable link between the United States and Cuba: Miami. Standing at the water’s edge, looking south, it’s incredible to recall the feeling of standing on the Malecón a year prior, looking at the same expanse of water. 90-odd miles and a world away.

Marlins’ star pitcher and Cuban-American darling Jose Fernandez met his tragic end only a few days before I landed, and his name, number, and life loomed large in local media this week.

I visited Marlins Park to see the memorial that had sprung up in the last few days, and read some of the thousands of hand-written notes to #16:

  • “Jose I love you like one of my children”
  • “Jose our family, and all the Cuban family, loves you”
  • “You were the pride of our community”
  • “Tu eres nuestra historia Cubana”/”You are our Cuban story”

Jose was living proof of the power of dreams combined with a relentless perseverance, the ideals we wish to impart to the future young musicians of CAYO.

Descansa en paz.

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