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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antigua | guatemala

travel July 30, 2014

The feeling of returning to a place that I fell in love with years before was a little surreal. Antigua was the whole reason behind travelling through Guatemala, and as we drove down the cobblestone streets, through the colonial town the memories of why I loved it so much rushed back. The food, art, coffee, and culture, and after a few days of being there, I fell in love with it all over again.

I saw and experienced the town in all different ways, from getting my coffee at the same cafe every morning, to going to an after party once the bar closed at night. I dined in ‘the’ best restaurant in Guatemala, rode in tuktuks down the cobbled streets, sat in terrace bars that overlooked the town and talked for hours. I wandered the streets under the full moon, danced salsa, and drank dos cubitas at a bar that became my local. I explored a coffee plantation, re-visited the old convent, went to art galleries, and trekked up a hill and starred out over the town. I said goodbye to some much loved friends, made some new ones, and left Antigua feeling content in the fact that I had done everything that I wanted to, in the town that captured me years before and that I will always have a sweet spot for.

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panajachel | guatemala

travel July 28, 2014

Although I travelled to a lot of countries while working on cruise ships, I only ever saw them between the hours of 7am and 5pm. This time when travelling I decided to make the most of my unlimited free hours and see the towns I visited in many different lights. I was always lucky to be travelling with like minded people as well.

In Panajachel this meant sitting along the lake and starring out at the volcanoes – a scene that was truly beautiful during the day, but at night was much more eventful. On one night in particular we sat and watched as the storm come in, with the volcanoes in the darkness, lit only by the moon and the occasional flashes of lightening nearing towards us.

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san jorge la laguna | guatemala

travel July 26, 2014

It seems that every town, no matter how big or small, has a basketball hoop and San Jorge la Laguna was no different. Since leaving Mexico and travelling through Belize and Guatemala, I began to notice them all in every place we passed, so when we arrived and I saw a couple of kids shooting hoops, I took the opportunity to join them. My new buddies didn’t seem to mind how terrible I was!

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chichicastenango | guatemala

travel July 24, 2014

While in Chichicastenango I took the time to wander by myself – to walk through a market that was bigger than some of the towns that surrounded it. It was a meeting place of many communities, their main source of income or trade, and their way of life. It was an incredibly colourful place, through the clothing the people wore, the buildings they lived in, the food, textiles and art they sold.

In the midst of everything was a white church that brought a calming centre to it all. Where the women sat selling flowers, with the burning incense surrounding them. It created such a peaceful atmosphere, in a busy market place. Somehow in the labyrinth of all the stalls I ran into mi amigo, so we sat for a while simply observing, talking and philosophising as the people around us went about their day.

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rio dulce | guatemala

travel July 22, 2014

My time was spent by the river – swimming, lying on the pontoon, reading on the deck, and eating & drinking with friends, with the most serene outlook. Life here revolved around the river.

One afternoon, we took a 45 minute trip on a little boat to finca paraiso – a thermal area, where the hot waterfall mixed into the cool. The water was calm, but the noise from the boat motor was too loud to be able to speak. So we all just sat, and followed the flow of the landscape as it was passing – a moment that felt transcendent in time.

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tikal | guatemala

travel July 20, 2014

After visiting Teotihuacan in Mexico DF I had an overwhelming need to climb to the highest point of the temples and pyramids in all of the archeological ruins that I visited, so Tikal was truly fascinating for me.

Tikal was an impressive site, surrounded by dense jungle, and covered a vast area of land. Reaching the top of the many large temples uncovered an incredible view out over Guatemala, and created a fascination I now have with the Mayan civilisation that had lived a crazy amount of years before.

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