Luis Garcia Perez is in culture shock. Just five days ago, he was in Pinar del Río, Cuba — in all that is familiar to him. Now he’s in St. Petersburg, Florida, reunited with his father, Pedro Luis Garcia, who waited for years to be able to bring him here. They’re still anxiously waiting for Garcia’s sister to join them.
As he stood in Orlando Latin Market’s small office in mid-January, Garcia, 19, ran down differences he noticed immediately between both countries.
Las carreteras (highways). Las calles (streets). Las casas (houses). Los carros (cars).
“Todo,” he concluded. Everything.
Back in Cuba, Garcia recalled often wondering what the U.S. was really like. Was it how people portrayed it to be?
“Ño! From a little bit to a lot,” Garcia said in Spanish, his first impression still solidifying days after his arrival. “I’m still amazed.”
His first meal in the U.S. was a sandwich from Subway — with ham, roast beef, mustard, peppers, tomato, and onions. The bread here is much better, Garcia noted. His stepmom brought him to Walmart, where he tried to soak in the many aisles and some foods that are foreign to him. “You get lost walking through there,” he joked.
Garcia spent his first few days in the U.S. trailing behind his father at Orlando Latin Market, where the elder Garcia is an employee. Father and son spent part of this Thursday placing merchandise on shelves.
“I haven’t thought through what my goals are now that I’m here,” the younger Garcia said. “For now I want to wait for my older sister to get here. I’m waiting for her because, without her, I’m nothing.”