Gracias, Babalú!

In considering what I might write to celebrate this auspicious occasion, the first word that came to mind was “Gracias.”  Thank you.

Back in 2005, I was looking for some Cuban art for my home, so I started with a Google search. The first link to come up in my search for “Cuba” and/or “Cuban” was Babalú Blog. I think the topic at hand was something or other about the Elián González affair and how he was being paraded as a trophy in Havana by fidel. The outrage was palpable in the story. “Wow,” I remember thinking, “finally someone who understands my point of view.” I kept reading.

But, of course, I didn’t stop with reading just one article. I was impressed with the depth and variety and the Cubaneo. What an amazing place I had found! It was indeed “An island on the net without a bearded dictator.”

I made it a point to visit every day. It wasn’t long before Babalú became my first stop for news along with my morning cafecito. It felt like home. Like talking over the backyard fence with my Cuban neighbor. There was always good “chisme” to be found here.

About a year later, I was inspired to write my own blog about my own Cuban family and how I keep my Cubanity (<–is that a word?) alive in our little bedroom community in Southern California. That’s how my own blog, My Big, Fat, Cuban Family was born. You could say it’s a child of Babalú. Yoani Sanchez of Generacíon Y calls Val the “Grandfather of Cuban Blogs.” I think that’s very appropriate.

I, personally, write about my  Cuban family, our customs, I cook Cuban food and share recipes. It’s the ying to Babalú’s yang. I still remember the day in December of 2006 when my blog was added to the Cubiches list. I was ridiculously proud and happy. (I still am, but that’s not important right now.) Gracias.

In March of 2007, I was honored to be added to the list of Babalú Contributors when I started sharing recipes. Marta’s Cuban American Kitchen was born. I give you this personal history because Babalú has become an integral part of my own life. I owe all my success to the Babalú family. Gracias.

The other names you see on the list to your right have become real friends. They are people that I’m proud to be connected with and whom I seriously cherish. We not only share this little corner of cyber-space, we all share that pain and longing of having lost our homeland. We share a passion and love for America, the land that gave us a home and welcomed us with open arms and taught us about being free. We share a burning desire to be the generation that lives to see freedom restored to Cuba. Gracias.

Congratulations to my brother, Val Prieto for being such a visionary. You knew we Cubans needed a place like Babalú and you had the courage to bring it to bear. Congratulations also to my friends/editors/writers/contributors/cubiches for having truly created “an island on the net without a bearded dictator.” Gracias.

Marta and Val. Cooking With the Troops. 2011.
Marta and Val. Cooking With the Troops. 2011.

A Decade of Babalú. The internet is a better place because this little island exists. Gracias.

Also, there should be cake!