Pedro Luis Garcia

Life in Cuba wasn’t easy for Garcia.

“Compared to the four months I’ve been here, it was a sad life, I would say,” the 42-year-old said as he sat inside Orlando Latin Market. “In one way yes and another no because I have something very precious over there – my children.”

Garcia has a 17-year-old daughter and a 15-year-old son he left behind in Cuba. In the beginning after he left for the United States, Garcia said he could hardly talk to his children on the phone.

“I love my children very much but when I talk to them, a knot forms in my throat,” he said.

As he spoke, Garcia’s hands moved about as he found the right words. He spoke fast, then slow. Paused at times when he spoke about his children.

“Sometimes I ask myself ‘What am I doing here?’” he said. “When you love someone so much, separating yourself from them is hard, and even more so when you separate from your children.”

Leaving his children behind was never something Garcia said he thought he’d ever do. But he did.

“Even if I wanted to, I can’t regret it,” he said. “I would love for them to either come here or me go be by their side again.”

It had been a little over a month since U.S. President Barack Obama announced the country’s relationship with Cuba would change. Garcia, who admitted he’s never been into politics, said he would like both nations to understand each other.

“With so many years at war, maybe that’s why life is so poor there (Cuba). Maybe with these changes, life will become easier there and people wouldn’t have to struggle so much,” he said. “Cuba is a beautiful country, but it’s worn. It’s destroyed. There’s nothing there…. there’s nothing there.”