Month: August 2014

panama city | panama

travel August 27, 2014

Everything about Panama was cinematic – it had an elegance, an old classic feel to it. I stayed in Casco Viejo, the old town, where even walking through the streets made you feel like you were on a movie set. It was an unexpected beauty that I’m so happy I had found.

The pace of life seemed to slow as I wandered between the colonial buildings. It was the perfect setting for where I was in my journey – a place to relax and reflect. I sat along the sea walls and starred out over the ocean, at the ships that I had once been on a few years before and had looked out to where I now was – in the place that I had called the Emerald City.

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havana again | cuba

travel August 25, 2014

I returned to havana with fresh eyes. I didn’t feel the love when I first arrived but wanted to give it another chance – after all, my whole experience of Cuba had been a tempestuous one! I felt that in the past two weeks I had learnt a lot about Cuba and the culture and Cuba had taught me a lot about just relaxing, enjoying and living.

I started walking the streets in a different manner. The whistles and kissing noises didn’t seem to bother me anymore, I was happy to eat at the same two restaurants for breakfast, lunch and dinner two days in a row, the tall narrow streets no longer made me feel uneasy, and I drank rum, danced on rooftops and smoked cigars with the locals. I left Cuba in lust, ready to go back again sometime soon and fall completely in love.

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baracoa | cuba

travel August 23, 2014

Baracoa is a small little town on the east coast of Cuba, know for chocolate, it’s beautiful fruit and rain. Strangely enough, I love rain – there is something calming about it, especially when you can feel the air change.

On my first afternoon there, I had walked up to El Castillo on the top of one of the hills and was in perfect time to watch the rain come in over the town. The air cooled, the rain passed over, and in half an hour it was gone. This happened frequently over the next two days, and each time everyone retreated inside, then came back out and continued with their day as if nothing had happened.

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santiago de cuba | cuba

travel August 21, 2014

So in Santiago de Cuba I fell – right on the curb, with bottles of water in my hands, in the middle of the street. It wasn’t like I tripped on something, my ankle just decided to give up on me for a second and I literally just fell forward onto the street. I picked myself up and laughed it off, but in my head I just wanted to be a child and cry! I was just starting to feel better after being sick for a few days and my day so far hadn’t been awesome – a lot of little things seemed to have got the better of me.

As I was walking away feeling sorry for myself I looked around at where I was and felt like giving myself a slap in the face. I was in Cuba, a country that has definitely had its fair share of bad days and at a much larger scale than I ever have and still seemed to carry on in a incredibly happy manner. So I did what any Cuban would do – I went and brought myself a 5 peso slice of pizza, ate a scoop of ice cream from the coppelia, had a rum, listened to music on the streets and went dancing!

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camaguey | cuba

travel August 19, 2014

By the time I reached Camaguey I had finally caught the cold that I had been trying to fight off for days. Thankfully it ended up being the perfect place to just chill and not do much at all. A bicitaxi tour had already been organised for us to see the sights of the town, and as much as I felt bad for the poor people that had to drive us around on the cobbled street, there couldn’t have been a better way for me to see Camaguey at that point and time.

My driver happened to be a young charismatic local, who took great joy in taking me and my friend around, serenading us with some smooth romantic slow jams from the 90’s and dosing us with flattery – so we sat, enjoyed the loving attention and listened to the songs that will forever be the soundtrack of the streets of Camaguey.

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trinidad | cuba

travel August 17, 2014

Since arriving in Cuba I had been battling a serious love/hate relationship with the country. I had always anticipated that I would love everything about Cuba, but I didn’t. There were some things that I found confronting, confusing and at times frustrating.

One thing in particular was the language barrier and that was purely my own fault. I had managed to get my way through situations while travelling through Guatemala and Mexico with my limited Spanish, but Cuba was not allowing me to break through. The accent and the way the Cubans spoke was different and I struggled to understand and converse, which in turn left me travelling completely on the outside of the culture, something that I really didn’t like.

But with every hate, there was a love, and in Trinidad it was salsa! You didn’t need to understand Spanish to be able to dance and I was taught by some of the best teachers you could ask for – the Cuban locals! We danced at every opportunity we had – on the rooftop terrace, the steps of casa de la musica, in the streets, and at the incredible cave nightclub. And when the night was over, we slept and woke up ready to do it all again.

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cienfuegos | cuba

travel August 9, 2014

As soon as we arrived in Cienfuegos, we heard music flowing from down the street, so we followed it to find a group of some of the happiest people I have ever seen. They were dancing, singing, drinking rum and having a grand party. They weren’t celebrating anything in particular, just the fact that it was Sunday and they were able to do all these things. The happiness on their faces was contagious and before we knew it, we had all been pulled into the middle of the group and were dancing, singing and smiling just as much as they were.

Later that night we found ourselves following the music once more. We could hear the music while walking down the mal├ęcon and could see lights being projected into the sky. This wasn’t a Sunday afternoon congregation, but a night club full of young locals. Nevertheless they all had the same glow of happiness on their faces and a love for music that had been passed down through the generations.

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havana | cuba

travel August 6, 2014

One of the things I realised on my first night in Cuba was that the people spent a lot of time on the streets, and it is even more evident now as I look back on the two weeks I spent there. It’s not that they were homeless, they just enjoyed being there – things happened on the streets.

It was where you sat and played checkers with your friends, where you stood for hours chatting with neighbours, where you waited for people to arrive home from their day, where you watched and whistled as beautiful women walked by, where you drank, ate, danced and simply sat and watched the world go by. And on my first night I did exactly that. I sat with the strongest rum and coke of my life, mesmerised as I starred down onto the street and watched what was happening around me. Kids playing, cars and bicycles streaming past, music flowing, people talking, laughing and gathering together as the heat of the day faded.

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