Many years ago I was invited to Baranquilla, Colombia with some friends for Carnival. I was fortunate to have the experience of staying with the parents of my dear friend Jaime Cabrera Gonzalez, a talented writer, poet and professor of literature in Colombia and Israel (and not a bad dancer either-sandunguero).
During those two weeks in the magical town of Barranquilla, I became very close to Jaime’s parents and their pet tortoises, Pablita and Ricardito (the size of bowling balls). Every evening, we would all sit on the veranda and drink “Cubitas” with Coca Cola along Havana Club 7 anos rum. While sipping on these Cuba Libres we would discuss politics, love affairs — old and new, and laugh for hours. Later in the night Jaime and I and our crew would slip out from the watch of his parents and spend the night dancing and roaming the tropical streetsof Barranquilla. We crashed parties and comparsas (organized carnival clubs) and enjoyed the music, the costumes and the people of Barranquilla.
This morning I learned my friend lost his father, Jaime Cabrera Paz, 85 years old leaving behind his bride Beatrice Gonzalez of 56 years and in my mourning, I am overcome with my bittersweet memories of him sipping his favorite cocktail with his family and friends, listening to his LPs and laughing out loud. Tonight, I am thinking about him and the way he lived his life as I mix a little rum and coke outdoors and remember to live and love every day.
Here’s to you amigo, padre, marido, ejemplo. Te brindamos.
Recipe for Rum and Coke
Fill a high ball glass with ice
1 1/2 ounces of dark rum (no Havana Club if you are in the U.S. a little annoying detail about a trade embargo). Try the boutique-produced rum from Puerto Rico, El Barrilito.
3 Ounces of Coca Cola
A wedge of lime
Serve with some salty tropical white cheese, crackers, olives, laughter and some 80s music from Fania All Stars and dance.