Pablo Milanés is one of Cuba’s most outstanding musicians. This song is a sweet, heart-piercing rumination about friends who left the island for brighter futures.

Here is my translation of the lyrics:

Where are the friends I had yesterday?
What became of them?
What happened?
Where did they go?
I feel so sad.

Where are they?
Yesterday Pepe was spotted over there,
Juan over here,
Hildita yonder,
and Vladimir and Tomás way over there.

That Pepe, what a carpenter!
Juan, the electronics whiz, invented
more than one device to squeeze the enemy.
Hildita the orchestra director, what a star!
Vladimir the businessman,
who hassled me so many times for being liberal.
And Tomás, the painter
of those gorgeous countrysides that aren’t there anymore.

Where are they?
I want to see them so I’ll know
that I’m human
that I live and feel for my siblings
and they for me.

Wherever they are,
here’s a greeting to tell them
that I’ve loved them
and that I’ve desired
more than once
to see them
die here with me.

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9 thoughts on “Éxodo – A song about the Cuban diaspora

  1. Thank you for putting the vid/song here, Tim! I loved listening!
    This is such a beautiful, but sad song! I can relate to it.

    Someone told me eons ago…the line…”People come into your life for a season and a reason”…that people WILL come and go. I don’t like that going part, but it is true.

    I’m just happy they were a part of my life. I can carry the memories. I can think of them. I can appreciate them. 🙂

    I am grateful for you, Tim! My prayers and my best to you and Alicia! 🙂

    HUGS!!! 🙂

  2. This was great fun, despite the melancholy song. I ‘cheated’ and read your nice translation first, but still, honestly, i think I would have ‘gotten’ something more than half, maybe 3/4 of in in the original. Esp with all the ‘loan words. (ha, maybe English actually took ‘impressario’ and carpentero’ from Sp.)
    To think I was all lined up to secretly fly there in ’68 to help with the cane harvest. and become indoctrinated, i suppose. Venceremos Brigades, if i recall correctly.i canceled for a girl i couldn’t be without though, at the last minute.
    Oh, and i wonder what I’ll get putting your trans into Google eng-to-sp?
    Like i said, great fun

  3. digitalgranny says:

    beautiful song and reminds me of Xangans all scattered all over. Sad that it went down and sent us all scattering to different corners of the web.

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