Those of you who follow my writings, specifically my treks to Cuba have seen references to my dear friend Esteban Dominguez Morales. I know him as “The Professor.” Planning for my Cuba trek in November I just found out from his wife, Katia that he unexpectedly passed away while visiting family in Columbia.
The Professor left this world a better place and as I pen this article, I mourn his passing and praise God for allowing our lives to intersect.
Like many who have not been to Cuba, the country is known to have an intriguing appeal. Due to the common sense approach the Obama administration fostered about developing a better relationship with Cuba, I was able to make my first trek in 2015 Planning for that trip I stopped by Eso-Won books in Leimert Park to see if there were any new titles about Cuba. Tom pointed me to two books, and I purchased both. One of the books “Race and Culture” seemed interesting so I set my sights on reading it once I returned. After reading it I had many questions and reached out to the author. Lo and behold he responded and that was the beginning of the friendship with Esteban Dominquez Morales. Following that communication, I was determined to visit again and gain first-hand knowledge of some of the things we communicated about. Following Obama’s term as president I had to brush up on my entry requirements since Trump took office and created ridiculous antics making it more difficult for United States citizens to visit. Luckily, I was a published author and was able to boot-leg on my credentials so that I could enter the country and safely return without suffering any penalties. With the professor’s help I was able to set my focus to study and gain a better perspective on Racism in Cuba and the Negro League’s presence in Cuba. In creating my itinerary and scheduling time to meet various authors, activist, and other officials, including the Professor he suggested I stay at his apartment since he had a legitimate casa particulares. That was perfect.
Over the years the Professor and I spent countless hours in his office and his home talking about the culture, the politics and other issues which were important to me. On occasions, Katia would pop in and offer input Even though he was retired from teaching at Havana University, he agreed to take me to the campus as well as one of his meetings with the Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (UNEAC). The reverence other professors gave him once they knew he was on campus was incredible.
“The surprise death of Esteban Morales pains us. We will miss his intelligent, incisive and committed assessment of the problems of our time. My condolences to his family, friends and the Cuban intelligentsia, which he gave prestige to with his work”. Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez
Esteban Dominguez Morales was a very decent person, and I am so grateful of the time we spent together. I will cherish the memories and pray that Katia and his family recover and continue their journey in living a positive life. Thanks to them I have gained an invaluable perspective of the Cuban culture. In 2021 I was not able to make the trek as the remnants of Covid and international travel saw air travel triple if not quadruple in prices. Since then they have come down.
For this year’s trek we decided to stretch things out. In addition to flying to our initial destination which was BWI (Baltimore-Washington International airport) our mode of getting around was Amtrak. Of course getting to/from Canada we rented a car. Once we got back to the states we opted for public transportation via metro (District of Columbia and New York City) and resorted to a lot, and I mean a lot of walking – based on our smartwatches in seven days we trekked 94.3 miles walking. Oh yeah, one confession but only due to several emergencies where time was not on our side – we opted for Uber on three occasions. Trekking is not for the weak or feeble or those who enjoy the usual comforts of travel. On the other hand our style allows us to experience many things most miss. As usual once we got back into the District of Columbia we were joined by our foodie extraordinare, Renie Hale. As we moved to New York we were joined by my sister Angela.
New York City
District of Columbia
Highlights of the trek
We knew this trek would require more laser-focused planning. Our funds were limited as was our time but we were willing to move it from 5 days to 7 days. This allowed us to visit Canada, New York and some places we simply did not have time in previous treks. The highlights are goals of this trek was:
Experience the Amtrak/Acela
Go to the CITIFIELD Rotunda, home of the New York Mets
CitiField pays homage to Jackie Robinson and even though it is the home field for the New York Mets, the stadium resembles historic Ebbetts Field which is where the Dodgers played.
Visit the new Jackie Robinson Museum in New York City.
This venue just opened and luckily we timed our trek to be able to see the exterior. Luckily one of management staff saw us peering through the windows and came outside to tell us about the museum. It is easy to find and right off the “canal” street subway stop as the entrance is on Vartick Avenue.
Visit the Capitol and go to Statuary Hall to see the new statue of Dr. Bethune. This indeed was the historic highlight as it was recently installed.
This installation had been delayed for over a year due to the insurrectionist and Trump acolytes who damaged the Capitol after falling prey to Donald Trump’s hustle that the 2020 election was stolen. Anyway, there is a process to enter this sacred building. Your congressional rep must coordinate your visit and you will receive a letter (via email) granting entry. The statue of Dr. Bethune representing the state of Florida is magnificent and very historic as she replaces a confederate general (each state is allowed two statues).
Visit Metropolitan AME as they just recently started back to having full worship.
Built in 1838 this historic cathedral is one of our must-stops when in DC. Due to Covid they recently started in-service worship so we were blessed to be able to be in attendance.
Visit Brooklyn to see where Judith lived
Arriving in 1972 this is the spot she called home and it had been years since she last saw the property.
Visit the Goodman League at Barry Farms to see some playoff games.
The housing projects were removed four years ago but the spirit of the Goodman League remains. It is outdoor basketball at its finest and represents more than just a game played within the rectangular courts. The diversity of the community is on full display. Miles Rawls and his team bring a first-class operation for all who are bold enough to go “inside the gates” at the BF arena to take part in this cultural phenomenon.
As you can imagine burning 94 miles requires a lot of fuel so yes we did lots of eating and drinking. Some spots were our favs and of course part of trekking or globetrekking is experiencing new venues. Most are good and a few were just terrible so in fairness we attempt to communicate accuracy……..based on our perspective.
Rita’s was a great find by Renie. Even though they are franchised you will appreciate their consistency. We opted for their famous Gelati which is 1/2 Gelato & 1/2 shaved ice – refreshing and outstanding.
Barry Farms Housing Project – Anacostia, District of Columbia
This is one of my favs for all of those hard-working folk who bring great food to those watching games at the Barry Farms arena. Slim only serves platters and you get bang for your buck and during this trek his homestyle mac and cheese complete with his country crust made for an unbelievable meal. What a bargin for $20 bucks.
This is a historic venue but they are in desperate need of some find tuning. We opted for the pizza and chicken tenders and while tasty we were disappointed of the limited menu selections or everything being one dimensional of either being fried or baked in a pizza over.