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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – CBS4’s Eliott Rodriguez took a trip through Cuba to reach the birthplace of Fidel Castro’s revolution.
The former Cuban leader’s remains are being caravanned from the nation’s capital to Santiago de Cuba. It’s where a chapter of Cuban history will come to an end.
Rodriguez took the opportunity to get out ahead of the caravan to interview locals anticipating the march to Cuba’s second largest city.
“When the caravan comes by, it’s going to be difficult to watch,” a worker said. “He was the father of us all. I feel the pain.”
In the city of Ciego de Avila, in Cuba’s rural central provinces, crews are sprucing up the streets and painting homes.
The workers told Rodriguez they are in mourning for their commander in chief, who in their eyes was a champion of the people in the countryside.
“I feel very sad to have lost the Comandante,” a worker said. “I am doing my best to accept it, but it’s not easy.”
The caravan will cross the island on Cuba’s central highway, retracing the victorious path Castro took in the opposite direction when he rode from Santiago de Cuba to Havana in 1959.
There were no flights available from Havana to Santiago de Cuba, so Rodriguez opted to drive in a 1985 Russian sedan. It’s the same type of limousine Castro used in the 80s.
There’s an official nine days of mourning that comes to an end Sunday when the funeral takes place and Castro’s ashes are buried at the birthplace of his revolution.
The older generations are glued to the TV as the caravan makes its way. Younger Cubans are going about their daily business.
As for visitors on the island nation, there trips have lost some luster as there is no alcohol being sold.
And some tourist who went to take salsa lesson had to do it out of sight and keep the music very low.
“I miss the music, it’s a little bit sad,” a tourist said. “But out of the respect for people here, it’s OK.”