He literally had nothing else because his luggage was lost in transit. But he held on to his dreams, became a successful environmental engineer in Kentucky and started a magazine aimed at the state's growing Cuban population.
He called the magazine El Kentubano. He had coined the term a few years earlier. He didn't want his children to forget their Cuban roots, so he called his daughter, Fernanda, now 12, a "kentubana," and his son, Luis Manuel, 10, a "kentubano."
Fuentes, 45, is proud of his heritage and didn't want to lose it once he reached the United States. At the same time, he wanted to learn about and adapt to life in the United States. But there was little information for new arrivals, he says.
So in 2009, he launched El Kentubano, which is full of tips on understanding schools, health care, banking, visas, the citizenship process and more.
"There was no other source of communication, unlike Miami which had radio and television...newspapers. Here was nothing...no communication for the community," he says.
"It was very important because most of the community are people who come directly from Cuba, and they come with zero knowledge about anything. It is a very abrupt change, not only because of the language, not just because of the cold, but because they come with different rules, with a different discipline, with other customs, with habits of labor discipline, social discipline. Everything is new, and information was extremely important for those Cubans who were arriving."
The circulation of his magazine has climbed from 1,000 to 10,000 as the Cuban population in Kentucky has grown.