Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Travel to Cuba Should be about Making Relationships

William the Cabbie
 Well my Wife and daughter took me to Cuba for a trip. This is the second time they have taken me to Cuba. First Time was five years ago.    This time around I was so excited that I may have had my hopes about the trip so high. I was telling Suz that I shouldn't get too happy before we go because I would jinx the trip; making it not as fun as the last time we went.

Vivian's design
Worker cleaner. 

Alberto - maitre d
hydro pole

Havana tour guides & driver

Random Havana Resident
Darren Karen Donovan

My victim
Mike's Cafe
Frankfurt Couple
The thing about Traveling is we should all do it.
When I went to Cuba the excitement was about not the place we were going to stay at but with meeting people. We (Suz Chloe Aviree and I) started looking to buy stuff for the trip. The stuff we are talking about its gifts. I asked other relatives what we should take to the people. EJ and Eva Fontaine have been to Cuba a number of times. So we asked them. EJ said shirt ties would be good for the professional workers. I told my neighbours, Keith and Linda Farley about the trip and what we were intending to do. Keith gave  us a bag of about forty ties to take. We gave the ties to lots of folks there. We also took toys, nail polish, underarm stuff, and sunglasses. My cousin Allan Courchene said people like sunglasses. 
I guess the act of giving makes us feel good. For me its kind of an arrogant thing to think I am some type of benevolent soul and gracious human being by giving token gifts. I mean its not really life changing stuff to give a pair of sunglasses or a little bit of perfume. Still in my mind it was significant. In reality its not. I had an image of being appreciated for the little gift. 
I was disappointed at the beginning of the trip. I was not meeting people as I imagined I would. When trying to visit the "locals" in the very nice resort, they were busy working. Imagine that. They were working 12 to 16 hours a day. And this old guy is trying to make small talk and be all intrusive about their life. So it was my delusional vision of being this "cool kind" guy being all generous to the local folks. That should not have been my focus but just enjoying the opportunity to travel and if it was to be, to have good conversation with anyone. 
So I altered my thinking and sure enough I started to loosen up and got to visit with different folks. I stopped trying to be critical of the resort, the tourists and the working staff. However, I did complain to Suz and Chloe about all those tourists sitting around the common area staring at their I phones. I would say, "how in the heck can you start up a conversation with those people, when their faces are locked on phones?" I complained about the hotel being boring with all those old people. I'm old but they were old as well. I complained about the lay out of the hotel. I complained for nothing. The hotel and the people were good. Mixture of tourists from Moscow, Sweden, Italy, Montreal, Czech Republic and the UK. 
I met some nice friendly people; a couple of young men from Montreal. These young men were so up beat and friendly.  Nice enough to be patient with my endless questions. I know I am messing up Dappies name. He and his friend Steve seemed to be having a good time as well.

Darren and Karen Donovan from Manchester, UK.  Well rounded travelers this couple. I met a couple from Halifax, Daphine and her husband. I asked them how the met. On internet they said. The man went to the Philipines to meet someone. They married after 4 months and they have been together for about nine years. She is 33 and he is 70. They look good together. He is a retired plumber and she works part time.  He had strong opinion on how to stop the Indigenous youth suicide. She was teasing him quite a bit. We met Alberto from Cuba and a number of patient serving staff at the hotel. We met Maria on the bus and she was from Dominican Republic.  we met  a very nice couple from Frankfurt at a bus station. I of course was a pest with teasing people at the resort.  My antics could have been mistaken for cute about 35 years ago but at my age its old creepy. At the end of it, the trip to Cuba was one of joy, pleasure and appreciation by me. I was so happy Suz and Chloe think about me and are able to spend time with me.

There are similarities all over the place and some little differences you tend to notice. Like some of the hydro poles are made of concrete. The type of trees are different of course, with big cactus trees and many short ones and of course the palm trees. The birds singing beautiful songs, while the vultures look like ravens in the sky. The absence of kids bikes. Its weird we look at the clothes drying in outside the balcony of apartments and we think its odd. When in fact its normal. We like to see the same and the different in our travels. But the biggest thing is the people. The trips only mean something when we meet people. A good visit can make the trip that much more special. Its about the relationships.

Suz Chloe Aviree and I went by taxi cab to downtown Varadero. William took us in an old  vintage American Classic car with a Hyundai engine. It was 20 Cuban pesos one way. He waited two hours for us to walk around and he brought us back to the hotel a 12 or 16 kilometer ride. By the way the Canadian dollar is worth 67 cents on the Cuban peso.  We told William were wanting to go Havana. He spoke to a guy at the hotel security and arranged a trip to go to Havana the next morning - 150 pesos.  Suz didn't want to take Aviree on a long trip; no car seat and long rode trip for a three year old. We left Suz and Aviree behind, just Chloe, me and three Cubans; a driver named Enzo, a tour guide named Elvis and a tour guide trainee named Juverre. The tour was very fast. We went to a number of places in Havana. We spent three pesos on a lady wanting her picture taken with a cigar in her mouth. We went to eat at some restaurant outside of the city. Old style restaurant that was a house with tables and chairs in the court yard. The tour Cubans were going to wait as many of the tour drivers waited outside as tourists ate inside. Weird. Mom always said you don't feed yourself in front of people. We all had a nice meal for $135 Canadian. Lucky for us we had enough cash for the meal. We didn't take a lot of money to Cuba so the trip and the meal ate most of our tour cash.  The chance to sit eat and visit with these cool Cubans was one of the coolest parts of the Havana trip.

Like I said at the start of this blog, everyone should travel. Even if its close to your home. We can meet people everywhere. All we have to do is say "hello" and start from there.

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