(Marlboro, NJ)–The epic journey from their Cuban homeland to the United States seems like only yesterday to Gustavo and Mihri De Los Reyes, residents of The Chelsea at The Solana Marlboro. It was in 1966 they decided it was time to leave the repressive dictatorship of Fidel Castro.
“They are the devil,” said Mihri, reflecting on life under a government that took possession of their home and controlled everything from their salaries to the food they ate. “We were left with only one small bag.”
They were lucky enough to receive the very last visa from the US Embassy in Havana to come to America with their four children. Upon arriving at the Havana airport that day in ’66, they were confronted by the authorities who were confiscating all jewelry and items of value from passengers leaving the country. They saw Mihri’s engagement ring.
“It is my life,” she said. “I told them this is not a real diamond. I got it at a 10-cent store. He said OK, you can keep it.” She wears the ring to this day.
Upon arriving in America they lived in Newark. Gustavo was a civil engineer in Cuba which he continued doing in New Jersey. Mihri had gone to a bi-lingual school and knew English. Gustavo had to learn it, but he picked it up quickly. Five days after arriving they became citizens of the United States.
Mihri and Gustafo met when they were teenagers and have been married for 60 years. They live comfortably at The Chelsea at Solana Marlboro on County Road 52 close to Rt. 9.
Since they made the move 52 years ago, they’ve never looked back and have no desire to return. They remain suspicious of the government.
“You have to be careful when visiting and cannot eat anything because you don’t know what they will put in your food,” said Mihri.
The American Dream is very real to the De Los Reyeses. They have traveled all over the world and still believe America is the best place to live.
“Freedom,” is Mihri’s one-word description of life in the USA.