Trip to Havana
Viaje a La Habana (Trip to Havana) is a story of the return of the Countess of Merlin to that city. The Countess of Merlin had origins in Cuba but had lived since she was young in Europe and after an absence of many years traveled back to Cuba and wrote this book. It was a controversial book. The book was rumoured to have been plagiarized from Cirilo Villaverde, José Antonio Saco, and Ramón de Palma. Félix Tanco and Bosmeniel were some of its main detractors with its Refutation to the pamphlet entitled Viaje a La Habana, published in 1844. On the opposite side, were Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda, who wrote the preface to this edition, and Gabriel de la Concepción Valdés, who dedicated a sentimental ode to his departure from Havana in 1840.
Here the author’s gaze towards an almost exotic and at the same time close country confused with childhood memories and emotions:
I have been immobile for a few hours, breathing more than the embalmed air that comes from that blessed land of God … Health, island, the lovely and virginal! Health, my beautiful homeland! In the beating of my heart, in the trembling of my bowels, I know that neither distance nor years have been able to warm my first love. I love you, and I could not tell you why; I love you without asking the cause, as the mother loves her son, and the son loves his mother; I love you without giving myself, and without wanting to realize it, for fear of diminishing my happiness. When I breathe in this perfumed breath that you send, and I feel it slide sweetly down my head, I shudder to the marrow of my bones, and I think I feel the tender impression of the maternal kiss.