AS THE FAMILY EMBARKED on the challenging journey, one that her parents planned for a long time seeing no other viable option in Cuba, Patty felt uprooted, tired, and more than anything confused about the whole situation. Images of airplanes, gates, and airports are at best blurry.

Right upon arrival, Patty cried herself to sleep on a mattress that laid on the floor. As a child, the travel was harsh and not very nice. Everything seemed surreal: she was in a place she loved one day, and the next in a completely foreign land. The place? Markham, Canada. She had never heard of it before, nor was she happy as she was days before the sudden flight that swapped warm Cuba for chilly Canada. She could no longer run outside and play until sundown.

Her parents had their own harsh experience as the trip set into them. Now that they were finally out of Cuba and in a land they thought to be more favorable for their dreams, they needed to hit the ground running and at the same time hold up the family as the children grew impatient those first days.

Adriana, left, Patty, center, and José, right.

Adriana, left, Patty, center, and José, right.

Nonetheless, each one in the family held each other up, offering relief to one another. They didn’t know what was in store for them, or how rough would it turn out to be in Toronto, but they knew that they were all united. After all, another motivation besides a better economy for the sudden move was to keep everyone together as a family re-connecting with those who lived outside of Cuba—her grandparents and some aunts and uncles—those who left earlier than them.

Patty, along with her mom, Adriana Jardines, her dad, Jose Barros, and her little brother, Marcial— who was way too young at the time to comprehend anything, let alone protest— was now in Canada. And she would stay there for four more years.