The strangeness of culminating events lined the path of my life towards the absolutely unknown and unfamiliar. New types of people and ideas, places and environments, feelings and emotions, euphoric comforts and extreme discomforts. It was enough to bring on swarms of anxiety and spells of fear. If not for will to know truth, a curiosity of the other’s achievements and the love of love, I am not sure I would have received the enlightenment along this journey which allows me to find buckets of strength and courage in the perilous moments which I face even until this day.
After setting course towards a college degree in international relations, upon completion I joined the Peace Corps in the summer of 1998 and was sent to the South Pacific Island, Samoa. I continued service there with the United Nations and as a Charter Board Member and Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity Samoa.
By 2002 I was in a federal position in the Peace Corps headquarters in Washington, D.C. where I served as country officer, the liason, for Peace Corps programs in the Caribbean and Central America.
Before opening the first Soul de Cuba Cafe I was recruited to work in New Haven, Connecticut by Paul Newman’s Association of Hole in the Wall Camps to develop and support programs and activities for this charitable organization in Thailand, Southern Africa and Japan.
The vision of being a restaurateur first entered my awareness in the late 1980s while I attended community college in Ybor City, Florida, where my great grandfather Santiago Gonzalez made his first home in the United States. Today, Ybor City is nationally recognized as a historic district in Florida. It took seventeen years from the earliest sense of the vision of Soul de Cuba Cafe until 2005 for it to become a reality. And of all places, in New Haven, Connecticut.