On Jadir Rojas’ left upper arm is a large tattoo with the Cuban flag on it, and an intricate, bulky design surrounding it in dark ink.
“I think from how I am and my attitude… I think people are wrong about me,” the 27-year-old said as he sat inside Orlando Latin Market. “They probably think ‘Oh this guy looks this way or that way’ — but in real life, I think I’m a guy with a good heart.”
Every one of Rojas’ tattoos says something about him — there’s one of his late mother’s name and his Aquarius sign. Another one, of the symbols found on playing cards, lets others know he’s made money off poker.
Rojas’ Cuban flag tattoo was done when he was 16. He recalled it taking 4-5 hours. Anyone who says tattoos don’t hurt is lying, he added.
(LISTEN: Rojas speaks in Spanish about thinking outside the box and the power of knowledge in the below audio clip)
“Here in the United States there are many people from different countries,” he said when asked about the tattoo, “and people turn more patriotic when they’re outside their country.”
Rojas jerked his chin towards his right arm — blank like a canvas, still.
“Now that I’m going to be an American citizen, I’m going to get the American flag [on right arm],” he said. “I have been living here for 13 years and I consider myself Cuban-American… I can’t say I’m Cuban alone.”
Rojas said he’s now part of the United States.
“Though someone would still die for their country,” he noted.
Rojas said he likes to think differently — outside the box.
“A lot of people are stuck in the box. I’m not in the box,” he said. “I like to think outside — very far outside.”