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Lucía Jiménez Pernas: From Cuba with Love

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YEREVAN/HAVANA, Cuba — Lucía Jiménez Pernas was born in 1976, in Havana. She graduated from the Enrique Jose Varona Pedagogic Superior Institute. She is currently a registrar and also a teacher at the School of Energy and Mines.

In 2017, some Armenian and Spanish-language websites started to tell Lucía’s story about her special trip to Armenia to find her father and discover his land.

Dear Lucía, “searching for one’s roots” is a sensitive subject for many people. A logical question is might be: could you not continue your life without visiting your father’s country?

Yes, it could, but it would have been an incomplete life full of questions. Visiting Armenia twice (I visited in September 2017 and in October-November 2018 for the 2,800th anniversary of the city) made me fully know myself, understand why I was always different in Cuba. Getting to know Armenia and my father allowed me to understand the origin of some of my characteristics, tastes and way of being.

Were you not afraid about being disappointed?

Yes, I was afraid, but I went with two objectives: to know my father and my roots. Fortunately, I achieved both and both exceeded my expectations.

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 Was your father aware about of your existence?

My father did not know of my existence until the interview came out in the media. I will never give information about my father’s family because I promised them, also because I appreciate that they accepted me despite it having been a surprise for everyone. I feel respect for them and I am grateful for receiving me. I will always respect them!

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Is there something in your character that was different from others, which you ascribe to your Armenian origin?

I think so, to mention a few I would say my devotion to the family, respect for the elderly, taste for food, perseverance, among others.

 At one time, there was a small Armenian community on Cuba. There was even an Armenian-born Cuban poet, David Chericián. Have you ever met Armenians in Cuba and elsewhere before your travel to Armenia?

I did not know of that poet of Armenian origin. I met an Armenian in Cuba at a business fair and he was someone who wanted to help me in my search, but nothing was achieved at that time. He lived in Mexico, he was representing the Noyan brand. He was very kind to me and gave me a DVD with the documentary about Armenia and also gave me a taste of his products. Of course, when I arrived in Armenia, I always bought Noyan juices, and my favorite one was the rose juice. In my trips outside of Cuba I never met other Armenians.

When Cher visited Armenia in 1993, later she wrote: “It was the only place in the world where everybody looked like me.” Did you have similar feeling?

Yes, I had that same feeling and I expressed it to my loved ones. In Cuba when I walk the streets, they think I am not Cuban and they speak to me in English, in Armenia from the first day when I walked the streets, they spoke to me in Armenian and they thought I was a native.

Well, what was the most unusual thing for you in Armenia?

The most unusual thing was the kindness and familiarity of the people and the safety I felt on the streets. By the way, I never kept any journal, but on my first trip I decided I had to and went to Vernissage and I bought one with the handmade Armenian alphabet. I visited many places in my two trips — Victory Park, Mother Armenia Monument, Echmiadzin, Zvartnots, Garni, Amberd Fortress, Vahramashen Church, Charentsavan Church, Lake Sevan, Lake Kari, Mount Aragats, Khor Virap, among other places. In Yerevan I visited almost all the museums and notable places. I used to go on Sundays to the Church of Saint Anne and the Cathedral of Saint Gregory the Illuminator. I walked in the beautiful gardens of the National Assembly. There is not a day that while in Cuba I do not walk in the streets of Yerevan in my mind! I remember each place, the smells, the flavors. My body is in Cuba, but my spirit walks through my beautiful Yerevan, the city of my dreams!

 Are you a different person after your visit to Armenia?

Definitely yes. There is a new Lucia after my trip to Armenia. I am a different person in every way and I am grateful to have had that experience because now I feel complete and prouder of my Armenian roots. Since my birth I live in Cuba, I like Cuba, especially the sea and its beaches; but I dream of being able to live a part of my life in Armenia. I feel that I owe that debt to myself. I have an immense need to delve into the culture, history and traditions of the sacred land of my paternal ancestors and I believe that there is no better way to do it than to live there. I hope that this dream comes true for me like finding my beloved father, then I will strive to achieve it.

Thanks for your answers, Lucía. And you are always welcome to visit your father’s country again and again!

Thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to feel Armenian, that is one of my greatest pride since I was a child!

 

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