Sunday, June 28, 2015

High Country

When I joined Cuba on his way to summer pasture he was camped in a field about 18 miles west of US 285 on FR 87. I had figured I’d find him around mile marker 16.  At 18 miles or so I encountered a ranger moving east on 87. I asked if he had seen a flock of sheep. He said he had seen them around 9 AM by the corral at the junction of FR 87 and FR 133 but not since. That seemed odd to me and I was concerned that they were hidden in the Aspens off the road.

I needn’t have worried because scarcely a mile up the road were Cuba, his campo and the borregos. It’s hard to miss 400 sheep grazing fifty yards away.

Cuba came out to meet me and told him I had a photo album for him. “Tengo un libro de fotos para usted.” He leafed through the book and was beaming from page one. Victor likes the camera and the camera feels the same.

I  chatted with him for an hour or so and knocked back one of his Pepsis. That’s my annual ration. I clarified some facts namely that he did come to the US in 1965 as I had understood and he had spent five years in Florida and three more in California picking apples. That was new history and I still need to account for the five years between 1973 and 1978.

I asked what he had done in Cuba he said he herded sheep and cattle. When I asked why he left he said simply, “Gobierno malo.” Not much of a revolutionary I guess.

I drove a mile or so up 87 to pitch camp and after settling in went back to spend more time with Victor. I shared some tangerines with him and he brought me three tamales in return. He tried to unload some fried chicken but I demurred claiming "lleno."

He's a sweet man.

It was the next morning that I learned from patron Andrew Abeyta that Cuba had given notice as I reported last time. Then he, Cuba and the dogs pointed the sheep toward Las Lagunitas and the next night’s camp.


Blacks Crossing said...

The more I read, the more I want to hear about Cuba (Victor) and his life before and after coming to the United States. What a story! You are telling it well. It was a lovely thing to give him an album. He is one of the unknowns who would go into the post-retirement world without a word or a gift.

This is an amazing thing you are doing! Waiting for the next installment following your encampment and shared tangerines and Pepsi.

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