Cuando Sali de Cuba – Roland’s Story

By on September 27, 2012

Marta here: This story is really about Roland’s mother. I love how totally genious she was in preparing her young son to leave Cuba at any given moment. (Also, we have a really cool giveaway today.)

As told to Lucy Vega

In 1966, little Roly Vega was just 4 years old, born in Habana and living in Camajuani, Las Villas in Cuba.

natural sunscreen with zinc oxide

Castro had been in control of Cuba for over 5 years and his parents knew that it was time to leave their beloved homeland. His parents had already seen their nephew Henri sent to the United States as part of the Peter Pan Project and with President Lyndon B. Johnson opening doors for Cubans they saw their opportunity.

Being allowed to leave Cuba was challenging; you had to leave everything behind and be prepared to leave at a moment’s notice. This would be difficult as the entire family needed to stay close to home and each other, ready to go and with two small children there would be additional challenges.

One of those challenges was the fact that Roly was afraid of airplanes. Really afraid of planes and if he caused a scene when it was time to leave, well, they wouldn’t be going anywhere. So, everyday his mother would take him to the small airfield they hoped to leave from to see the planes and watch them take off.

“Look Roly, look at the planes! We will be going on a trip in one of them soon.”  Every day they followed the same routine until they got the word that they were given clearance to finally be able to leave Cuba.

Roly was, by now, used to the planes and didn’t make a fuss when it was time for the family to leave on the airplane that would carry them to freedom.

Roland today with his very clever and brave mother.

Roland’s dad wearing one of the most popular Habana Brand Clothing designs.

Many years later, (okay over 45+ years) Roland Vega lives in California and still thinks about his beloved Cuba. In 2009 he joined his love of his heritage and his love of art to create Habana Brand Clothing. A family run business specializing in men’s and women’s vintage style t-shirts with a Cuban and Caribbean feel. He hopes to show the music, history and nostalgia of the old Cuba that Roland and his family left behind 45 years ago.

Roland and Lucy Vega with their handsome sons.

Visit Roland and his family at and yes that is Roland singing to his parents! He will always be grateful for their struggles to give him and his sisters a better life.

P.S. Roland Vega is still afraid of planes, really afraid of planes!!!


Marta here:

I found Habana Brand Clothing through the Wassup en LA? page on Facebook and I immediately fell in love. So, I shared the link on the My big, fat, Cuban family Facebook page. And I said to my fans, “Go like them. And tell them Marta sent you.”

According to Roland, what happened next was crazy….their “likes” started climbing and they couldn’t understand what had happened, until they saw the posts on their wall that looked like this:

Habana Brand Clothing quickly contacted me to thank me and offered some of their (delicious!) shirts as a thank you. I quickly thanked them, and asked if they would be willing to host a giveaway here for My big, fat, Cuban family. (By the way, thanks, people! You made me look sooo accidentally cool.)

Lucy & Jonathan rocking their brand new and totally gorgeous Habana Brand Clothing.

So, today’s giveaway is sponsored by the generous folks at Habana Brand Clothing (who are my newest best friends forever, but that’s not important right now). We have TWO items to give away today:

  • One Habana Brand Clothing men’s shirt
  • One Habana Brand Clothing women’s shirt

Usually, I would only ask you to leave a comment to enter the drawing for the giveaway item, but I want to give you each a couple of chances, so….

1) To enter this drawing, please leave a comment on this post and answer one or both of the following question:

2) For an extra entry, please go “like” Habana Brand Clothing on Facebook and come back and leave me another comment telling me:  

  • “I like Habana Brand Clothing!”

So that’s not one, but two entries apiece. Yes, I’m generous like that, but that’s not important right now, either. (Also, I’m completely in love with the shirt that Lucy is wearing with the cafecito. Gracias, Habana Brand!)

Originally posted on My Big Fat Cuban Family.

About Marta Darby

Marta Darby is a Cuban-American mother, blogger, designer, scrapbooker, photographer, and cooker of Cuban food. She is passionate about sharing her stories on her popular blog, My Big, Fat, Cuban Family: She lives with her husband, Eric in South Orange County, California in a cute suburban home with a white picket fence.

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Cuando Sali de Cuba – Roland’s Story