Flight to Freedom: The Story of my Life

– Well hello, everybody. This is probably one of
my most requested videos. Those of you who’ve been
watching for a while, you know that I was born in Cuba. That’s why I talk like this. But many of you have requested
that I tell the story of how I came to the
United States and all that. So since, on December 13th, it was the 30th anniversary
of my arrival here to Miami, I thought it would be a fitting
time to tell you my story. So, without further ado, let’s do that. (upbeat music) ♪ I’m riding, riding, riding ♪ ♪ Riding in my RV, my RV ♪ ♪ Wherever I want to be ♪ ♪ Because I’m free in my RV, yeah ♪ – I was born Robert
Yurineil Morales Gonzalez, in the island of Cuba, in
Havana, right here to be exact. My parents, Alma and Vicente. My mom, she’s an educator. She used to be a teacher. And my dad, he was an architect. Quite the travelers, both of them. My dad in the 50s, he
traveled all over Europe, and then when they got married, their honeymoon, they visited pretty much every country in South America, and they even came here
to the United States, to Miami, D.C. and New York. That was until 1959, the
communist revolution. You couldn’t travel abroad anymore. So they continued to travel actually, but within the confines of the island. I was born in 1971. Oddly enough, not Roberto, but Robert. I guess my mom and my dad, they were like getting ready, prepared,
for the inevitability of leaving the country at some point. In fact, one year before I was born, that’s when they decided
they wanted to migrate, because they realized that Cuba probably wasn’t going to go back to the way it was before the revolution. So they gave me the English
version of my name, pretty cool. And my middle name, Yurineil, a combination of Yuri
Gagarin, the Russian cosmonaut and Neil Armstrong,
the American astronaut. So that’s probably why I’ve always had a fascination with
all things outer space. I had a pretty normal, happy childhood for Cuba in the 1970s and 80s. As soon as I was old enough, though, my parents, they started dragging me around the island on all their travels. And we visited some of the
most remote corners of Cuba, both to the east and the west. And this right here
that I’m gonna show you, this is very rare, one of the first times I
ever appeared on video. Probably the first time and this was shot by
some Norwegian friends, who happened to be living
Cuba back in 1980 and 1981. As for myself, early in life, I always had a passion for photography. I remember I had this old book, probably printed in the 1940s
from the Eastman Kodak Company and it had like all the
techniques for photography, you know, aperture and
shutter speed and iso, another combination of all those. And I read that book cover
to cover quite a few times and that’s how I learned pretty much all the photography techniques, although, what I really liked was moving pictures, you know, video or movies. But of course, that was
impossible at the time. I mean, sometimes it was
hard to get batteries, let alone, get a camera
or something of that sort. So, my video ambitions would have to be pretend for a few more years. That’s until we left. Of course, my parents always continued with that ambition to leave
the country at some point. And my mom was like that
last hold out, you know, in an era where there were
no Christmas trees in Havana, she still had her Christmas tree and she would put Christmas music and people thought, probably
thought we were weird. Because that was like the hardest part of the communist regime where religion was all but forbidden,
let’s put it that way. And of course, my dad got demoted at work when they found out that was leaving the
country at some point. And of course, my mom left
work right before I was born. When I was teenager, of course, I had to go a couple of times
to work in the agriculture, as part of paying your dues. And I worked in the tobacco
fields of Pinar del Rio, which is like the
western-most province in Cuba. And it was a lot of hard work, you learn a lot and it
was a little bit of fun, I mean, you put a bunch of
teenagers in like a shelter, you know, what could
possibly go wrong, right? But that’s the way it was and
I don’t know if it still is, but that’s the way it was back in the 80s. Now finally, in 1987, after
many, many years of trying and that was one of my
biggest points of stress. Because nobody could find out in school that we were trying to leave the country or anything like that. You know, that would mean if
I ever had to stay in Cuba, that would mean not going to university, many negative things. But eventually, finally in 1987, my dad reached the age for retirement and so he was able to
get the Liberation Letter from the Ministry of Construction. And that same year, his best friend who lived in
Madrid, Spain got us a visa. So finally, on September of 1987, we left the island on our
first flight for freedom, let’s call it that way. And it was hard at the beginning,
I’m not gonna lie to you. You know, it’s getting
used to a new country, kind of new customs, but it was Spain. So, you know, we spoke the same language, it wasn’t all that bad, it was just the idea of
starting from scratch. At the time, I wasn’t
working but for my parents, you know, getting work permits and the renewal of those
was kind of a drag. And my dad being in his 60s, he was gonna be forced
into retirement soon. So, coming to America was still one of our highest
priorities at the moment. And we wanted to come to Miami because that’s where the largest Cuban community outside of Cuba was. So yeah, this was the place
and we got very lucky. 1988, there was this program called Exodo, Exodus in Spanish. And it was pretty much
organized by Jorge Mas Canosa, who was the president of the Cuban-American National Foundation. And the idea was that
there were a lot of Cubans, particularly in Peru, who
were really, really struggling and the idea was to bring
them to the United States. So he convinced President
Reagan, at the time, and they signed this project
called Exodo, as I said and basically, meant visas for us. There was one catch, we had
to have medical insurance paid for for two years, you know, a relative or someone in
United States had to do that. And we were not allowed
to get like welfare or food stamps or anything like that. We wouldn’t be a burden to
society, let’s put it that way. And that was that. And as part of that program,
on December 13 of 1988, we boarded the plane, I arrived in Miami. And I’m gonna show you
a couple of pictures also from that time period,
that I took from the plane. Miami has changed so much since 1988. And here we had to start
all over again, you know, new country and we had
to learn the language, adapt to the culture, which
sometimes could be different. And even though I had
learned English in school, it’s not the same thing
when you have to use it and actually train your ear to listen to it on a daily basis. But you know, I went to
high school here, of course. And I had a job at Winn-Dixie,
that was my first job. But when I really started learning English was in my second job, which was this duty-free shops that they used to have the Port of Miami. And you know, interacting
with my co-workers and with, of course, tourists from all over the United States and all over the world, actually. I actually picked up a little bit of Portuguese and French in the process. In 1990, I graduated
high school, Miami High. And that was also where I
met the love of my life, Ili. During the early 90s, I was working at this duty-free
shop in the Port of Miami. I was going to college,
Miami Dade College first and then, Florida
International University. And I started playing with a bunch of salsa bands here in Miami. Salsa, which at the time, was like the trending musical style. And it was a very nice year, I got the tail end of that
era that started in the 80s of the largest salsa bands
playing at nightclubs. And I played with, mainly
with Orquesta La Llave. And we were 10, actually
12 musicians in that band and that was a good time. Didn’t travel much during
this time period, you know, the mandatory trip to Disney
World once in a while. And eventually, a few years
later, yeah, I went to New York, San Francisco, I even went
back to Spain and back to Cuba, actually a couple of
times in the late 90s. Even though I didn’t travel all that much, editing those travel videos and I always took a video camera. Editing those travel
videos, as family movies, was always a hobby of mine. Actually, my passion for travel got very much rekindled after a road trip we
did in Europe in 2006. We visited mainly Spain and France and I was in a rush like it usually is. But after that trip, I said, I started paying more attention to editing the videos in a better fashion. And of course, technology helped, this was the time when computers
were being more powerful. And I was eventually able to edit in HD, which at the time was like woo, HD, yeah! Around the same time, in the early 2000s, and this is important,
I discovered podcasts. And it was something that,
you know, that’s like radio, you listen to it but it was
something that you could produce yourself also and put it
out there in the world. And actually, video podcasts
came rather quickly after that and then YouTube was founded
around that same era. It was the Web 2.0 era
and user created content, as it used to be called. We even went to Macworld Expo
in San Francisco in 2008. You know, to be part of that
era, let’s put it that way. Okay, let’s talk about RV life here and how we got started
in that, in a sense. Sometime in the late 2000s,
Ili’s niece and her family, they moved to Atlanta, to
Lawrenceville to be more exact. And we were going to go there
for Thanksgiving, you know, to visit, it’s a surprise, kind of. And my brother-in-law, he decided to rent an RV for the trip, because they were going in
large group and they had a dog. And I thought, like hmm, this sounds like a very
comfortable way to travel. And then, in 20, was it 2010? We went to Alaska, we actually flew and
drove the Dalton Highway. And I thought, hmm, with a rugged RV this would be a much
more comfortable trip, because going to the
bathroom and all that. We were starting to get more
into the mindset of RVing. In 2011, my stepson Bryan, he wanted to go to the Cedar
Point Amusement Park in Ohio, which is like one of
the largest in the world And we decided, let’s make it a road trip and then we rented an RV
ourselves from Cruise America. And that was a very fun trip. And we got to see a
little bit of the country and how RV parks were and we
liked it, we liked it a lot. Then in 2014, we flew to Denver,
Colorado and rented an RV and did a road trip in the
Four Corners region, you know, the Wild Wild West video
that you’ve all seen. And by that time, we were hooked. Now let’s talk about
YouTube, in 2007 or 2008, that’s when I started
uploading videos to YouTube. It was a different channel
because it was mostly my music, I started uploading videos of us playing at different nightclubs, more like with promotional kind of thing. And before then I had started a video podcast called Tropical Music but that didn’t last very long because all the music
would have to be original and at that time, I didn’t
have that many original tunes. And I just couldn’t find enough content to put on that podcast, so that lasted probably 10,
12 episodes and that was it. By this time, I also had
a couple of travel videos in the archives, let’s put it that way. We had traveled to
California a couple of times, there was a video about here in Miami. And I decided to start a new channel called Traveling Robert, which is the one that we have right now and I decided to upload
some of those videos. Of course, in 2012 we did
that road trip in California, where we did the Pacific Coast Highway. And for some reason, that video started getting
a little bit of traffic, some people were watching it. So, I’m like and at that time, I think, also is when YouTube
started, approved monetizing. So I’m like, hmm, we may
be on to something here, let’s start doing more travel videos. So for the next couple of
years, I started uploading. But it wasn’t until 2013, actually, after our trip to Canada,
which was a great road trip. Also, my parents, Ili, Bryan and I. And I started getting feedback,
people started commenting. I was so excited that I posted
the comments on the video at the end of some of those videos. Of course, the next year
was the Four Corners trip, I already told you about that one. And then during that same time, I started researching because
I was already pretty much decided that I wanted to
get an RV at some point. I had read all the books, not all of them, but most of the books
published on the subject. I read Loloho’s Long Long Honeymoon. I had read, of course, John Huggins’ So, You Want to Be an RVer? There was one called
Meandering Down The Highway, a bunch of books. So, I knew pretty much but at that time, actually I was sure I wanted a Class A. But reality kicked in and I’m like, let’s try to get something
relatively inexpensive that would fit here in my driveway, that I could sort of
tow with my Kia Sorento. And that research led us to
Casita’s, but the Casita, I wouldn’t fit in the bathroom
and it was kind of cramped, so we decided to go a little bigger. And we saw this Winnebago Micro Minnie, which was a trailer company that Winnebago had recently purchased, actually. And we saw that they had
’em available at La Mesa, which is a dealership in Fort Myers. So we said, you know,
let’s go just to see it. Famous last words. We arrived there, of course, you know, they’re very nice when they
want you to buy the RV. We saw the RV, we fell in love with it, it was one of those things
that when you walk inside and you are like, it felt right, you know, that subjective manner of buying things that sometimes we use. And at the time, I was a little sensitive
because my dad had passed away like a month before and I was in that, you only live once mode. And I said, you know what? #YOLO, You Only Live Once, let’s sign on the dotted
line and get this thing. I mean, we could afford it,
we financed it, of course and then, eventually I paid it off. But that’s the story
of Minnie the trailer. And the rest of the story,
you know we’ve been traveling. Like the beginning, we
were like the ultimate weekend warriors because we had no time, I had a job at the time. So, I had to like, every other Friday I would beg my manager, can I leave a little early? So we could hitch up real
quick and go somewhere, at least, you know, for two nights. And the furthest we got, of course, was Fort Myers or to the north. Yeah, that was basically it. We made that one longer
road trip through Chicago, but still it wasn’t enough
content like to support a growing YouTube channel
and at that point, by the Chicago trip I was like, this thing is gonna go
somewhere one of these days. Actually, the next year, my 47th birthday, I decided to give notice
and I quit my job. And at the time, it may have been a gutsy, irresponsible kind of move because the YouTube channel
wasn’t making enough money to support the lifestyle. Of course, in that same year, John Huggins of Living the RV
Dream podcast had contacted me and told me if I wanted
to continue with a podcast and of course I told him yes. And at the time I had a
sponsor, you know, and all that, things were going somewhere. But still, pure AdSense
revenue wasn’t there yet. The reason I quit my job, yeah, maybe I had watched
too many inspirational videos or something like that. Because I was not really
happy at that job, it wasn’t a bad job, by any means, but it was not what I wanted to do. Making videos, telling
stories and traveling is what I’ve always wanted to do in life. So yeah, it is so timely that YouTube happened in this time in my
life, not just me, anybody. I mean, it’s such a great time to be alive where you can communicate
with other people, you can reach so many people without needing powerful
corporation or a big antenna or a powerful transmitter
to get your message across. All you need really is
an internet connection and something to say. So, this is where I am right now, in the present, 2018, the end of 2018. And of course, telling
travel stories through video, it is my passion, has been for a long time and I consider it my job,
but I don’t consider it work. Because it is something that I love to do and I would do it as a hobby even if it didn’t make me money. So, I feel very fortunate
to be able to do this at this stage in my life. After 30 years living
in the United States, in this great country that has given me the
opportunity to do that. I am also very fortunate to have a family that will put up with this
crazy adventure, you know, gallivanting all over the
country, making videos. So, may the adventure
continue to next year. I want to wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays wherever
you are in the world and a very, very happy
and prosperous 2019. Until the next time, thank
you so much for watching. And see you on the road. (upbeat music)

100 thoughts on “Flight to Freedom: The Story of my Life

  • We came here from Germany when I was six. I think it's wonderful to have two cultures. Last year on memorial day, I found your four corners video and I was hooked. Yes, may the adventures continue!!!

  • buddy. I told my five you looked very familiar especially the young pictures of you. I graduated miami high 89 . we provably crossed each other a few times. my wife keeps telling me that we should be twins. we also camp in the keys . and love to travel. have not done so now in a long while cause my kids kept us bissy with sports. sold my pop up and just got a new coleman 17 feet long. defenetly going to start traveling again this summer. (small world ) lol

  • VERY good job Robert! Thank you for making and sharing your story. We already have grown to appreciate you, but this helps to connect and make the bonding much stronger. Keep up the great work – you have an amazing life! Blessings continue over you, your family, and friends.

  • Say Robert i heard you say your father was an architect in Cuba and i was wondering if your father new my father he was one of project managers for all Obras Publicas thrue out the island and he had a friend that was an architect, i remember going to his house on a hill and i remember he had a mural of under water sea life with fishes on the side wall going up the stairs to the second floor. Listen Robert i m going to fly to Florida next Wednesday with my wife for two weeks and going be in Miami for four days, maybe we could meet for lunch and chat. Let me know what you think.

  • Thank you for sharing your story. And thank you for making such interesting travel videos. I would not be surprised to see you with your own show on the travel channel.

  • how have your traveled so much !!!!! my god !!!!! most people never leave their little towns. not to mention expensive. how have you been able to travel your whole life. even when you were young. omg… spain and back to cuba???? ….. sanfransisco, just go to denver and rent an r.v.. omg… wow. idk how you've done it.. many people, just barely paying rent. Your whole Life !!! wow. i guess, in a lot of ways traveling sucks. ya don't really experience anything but tiredness. you like to move, move fast… the stars do whatever they feel like.. i don't know how a lot of people do it. i've never flown, never… wow. i guess i'm out of the loop.

  • Laugh or a cry of a child is almost typical everywhere , as also the music of your videos which made me have very pleasant feeling though I am far away of your culture thanks for America who let us know you.

  • Can I say you are an inspiration to me without sounding to sappy? Cause you are. Btw, I remember visiting Miami when I was 6 years in 1990. From your videos I can tell it has grown immensely since then. Can't wait to go back!

  • Thank you Robert for sharing your story! You advanced and succeeded in this beautiful country that is the United States of America! Happy New Year and may God bless you always my friend!

  • Wonderful story my friend.
    My grandparents came from Mexico ln 1940.worked hard .
    I am a retired carpenter . going on 65 .had camper's in my past .
    Thanks for the giving me the courage to hit the road .

  • Robert thank you so much for taking the time to make this wonderful video of your life… It is so uplifting and to read your mom's comments on the video it is amazing… drive safe my friend and someday we may meet out on the road. Bob

  • There's just something about this guy that I really like. Robert, I love your videos and how you do them! It's just a great channel! I find myself singing "Riding in my RV". It's such a catchy song! Are you coming to Wisconsin sometime?

  • Kind of funny REAGAN made you have HEALTH INSURANCE (does not mean care) while 50 million American citizens did not……a lot of Americans would love to leave but are stuck here due to not enough money to move away….not to mention who knows which country the USA military will bomb next?

  • Thanks for the great story…Little story, we bought our 1st RV (Jan2019) also i watch youtube and watched your east to west video…BADASS…anywho wife heard your voice…She said what the hell are you watching?? puss n boots…(voice Antonio)….we love the channel.

  • Love your videos Robert. My wife and I are moving to Ft Lauderdale in the next month or so and hope to run into you one weekend in the Keys! Only thing missing from this awesome video was "Fly Pelican!"

  • Robert very well done! I often wondered about your story, only here in this country could you have accomplished what you have done. Now my wife and I are looking for an RV 🙂 take care and keep the videos coming Paul from So Cal

  • thanks for sharing your story. very interesting and as they say You have come a long way….to having fans, Us. hello to your wife I like her being in the videos

  • My husband and I are seriously considering buying a travel trailer this year and doing long weekend getaways until we retire in the next 3 years, so doing some researching first, i ran across your channel and have been enjoying it very much. BTW the reason I decided i wanted to do this is because my father just passed away last month and i decided life was too short, so when you brought that up in your video, i truly got it! From a 2nd generation Cuban, a late beinvendo a Estados Unidos .Keep up the great videos.

  • Thank you for sharing your story, Robert! You're an inspiration…and, please know that your passions of travel, storytelling, and music bring smiles and enjoyment to others! Blessings to you and your beautiful family.

  • wow – just wonderful to come across your channel and now a new subie – thank you for posting your story on FREEDOM – as a cuban myself I appreciate hearing other's story, we arrived in this beautiful country – U.S.A. in 1961, have to say watched a couple of other vid's before coming across this one, you provide good humor, beautiful scenery through your videography and a bit of reviews of where you are, thank you! will be watching the rest of your adventures! and taking note, hubby and I will be setting out hopefully soon! to see this beautiful country! Maybe one day our paths may cross………

  • Robert – thanks so much for this video. I'm probably not alone, but I first found out about you the other day from the Amazon Prime movie. I think it's an amazing testimony to you that I sat through the entire 3+ hours in that first watching. Coming here to YouTube to hear your backstory was a gift. Thanks for sharing part of your life with us. God bless you and your family.

  • My uncle came from Cuba in the 1960's to Miami. I love hearing stories how people came here. So interesting. TY!

  • You are a respected person and I am honored to follow your beautiful channel and I have a strong motivation to repeat your personal experience in my country.(Thanks Robert 😍)

  • Oh Robert, you're too young for me, dang it! I'll keep watching because your vlogs are very interesting. You parents were a very cute couple!

  • I stumbled upon your videos.. i thought you were French. Then you spoke spanish. I love the videos and the music.

  • Hi and thank you. I just discovered your channel and found your videos very entertaining and informative. I searched and found this particular video because I wanted to know more about you. Thank you for sharing your story. I found it heart warming as others have commented. All the best to you and your family and may you travel well.

  • What a wonderful story of your family, and how you came to America, met the love of your life and made your dreams come true. Truly inspirational!!

  • Hola Robert, como dices "La aventura continua". y vaya que ha continuado, hasta ahora los videos que has subido muestras el gusto de contar historias y el gusto por viajar.
    me gusta ver tus videos por dos razones 
    1- Me gusta mucho viajar
    2- Igualmente me gusta contar historias, y en eso trabajo de siesta forma, trabajo en filmaciones de series para Netflix, Amazon Prime etc
    Te mando un fuerte abrazo y me da gusto que puedas viajar tanto. No todos pueden

  • Robert, you're an inspiration! Our stories are quite similar. I was born in Havana, fled communism at the age of five and lived in Madrid for three years. We then came to the US. Grew up in NJ and my desire to thank this great country and love for travel saw me enlist in the USAF. Got to travel the world several times over. Now, I get in my RV every time I get an opportunity. Keep those videos coming!

  • From a recent subscriber who has been enjoying your travel videos, and now this wonderful story! Thank you so much, Robert. You bring great information and entertainment, and your music is especially enjoyable. Keep on traveling and making these videos! And say hello to your sweet Mom. God Bless.

  • This is the most inspiring story i have ever heard! People usually got lost in the piled work until getting out comfort zone.Thanks the video for introducing the United States, which make audience not only enjoy the awesome scenery but positive thinking of life. Keeping going 2019, just like you said in the video , we only live once 🙂

  • We are glad you and your family came here. You are a light in this world Robert. You are full of joy, happiness, passion, ambition, determination, you appreciate life, and we all see that. Many have lost their zest for life, have sorrow, bitterness, anger, no hope, no love for others. You make my heart smile, thank you, bless you, be safe and be happy. Hope to meet you and your wife one day.

  • I really like your traveling videos, and I love your "fight to freedom" profile … thank you very much! Wish you always succeed in life!

  • Great story of "Dreamers". So glad to have you AND your family! Great origan story! Great to know we we're about the same age! I was born in 1972! So glad i found YOU on YouTube!

  • Robert you have an amazing story. Keep on travelling. Great videos and come to Trinidad and Tobago one day for carnival.

  • Great story. May you continue to prosper. BTW, was that the Sun Sphere in Knoxville Tennessee in one of the clips? That's near me. Be safe.

  • Robert, what an amazing story!
    You've been giving us hints along the way but hearing the whole story "touch" even a guy like me that usually isn't sentimental.
    This video should be showed to every teenager that thinks communism is a good thing…
    I'm glad that you had and have a family that got you out of that "paradise prision" and supports you now in this adventure.
    You're an inspiration for many of us.
    God bless you and God bless America!

  • Great video Robert. I've followed you from 2015 and your Overseas Hwy video was my first. I've enjoyed every video I watch, and have had several comments from you over these few years. I remember you turning 10,000 subs! lol.. Your talents are many and varied. What a wonderful story you have so far in your life. I hope lots of money is in your future. 🙂

  • Thank you, Robert, for sharing your story. My husband and I thoroughly enjoy your videos and wish you all the luck and prosperity for continued success. Happy Traveling!!

  • 'It's a wonderful life" fits you well Robert, as Paul said, "very inspirational". Keep up the good work, be safe, have fun, & happy camping. v/r, TS

  • " That's why I talk like this" … Haahaaa! What's not to love about Robert! 🎶 : )

    The first time I caught you Robert was on a trip you took up to New England… my homebase, and what grabbed me was A).. THAT BLESSED VOICE.. B)… your very upbeat music! .. and C) How gutsy you were in North East traffic.. with an RV NO LESS.
    You just won me over. A True Gem.

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