Camila Bello: From Cuba to Mexico, to the U.S.

Camila Bello, singer and songwriter and member of Fifth Harmony kicks off Hispanic Heritage Month by sharing her story about living in Cuba and Mexico City and the struggles she and her family encountered upon migrating to the U.S.

Camilla Bello tells her story to Pop Sugar:

A bus. The yellow lighting of the gas station against the dark hours of midnight. Fast asleep. Silence. My head slumped over my mom’s shoulder. Her voice timid and hesitant as she stumbled through a sentence in English at the cash register. A Winnie the Pooh journal. These are the things I remember when I think of when my mom and I immigrated to America.

I was almost 7 at the time, born in Havana, Cuba. My papá is puro Mexicano and we lived back and forth between the heat of Havana and the concrete jungle of Mexico City. I didn’t realize it then, but, boy, does it hit me now. I realize how scary it must have been for them. For my mom to leave the streets of Havana where our neighbors were our friends, where we gathered every holiday to eat pork and my grandma’s rice and beans, to not hear the malecón and the heartbeat of her city pulsing with every crash of the wave. For my Dad to leave behind his four brothers and sisters, the memory of his parents, the street vendors selling the elotes con mayonesa that I would beg him to get in the mornings before school, the best friends he’d grown up with . . . everything. To decide to start from the ground up.

With a couple hundred dollars, the clothes on our backs, no family in the United States, and no clue of what was going to happen next, that’s exactly what we did. Like my mom said, “I don’t know where I’m going, but I can’t stay here.” And that was enough.