I definitely made the right decision to combine Mexico and Cuba into one holiday as the flight from Cancun, Mexico to La Habana, Cuba was literally 55 minutes! I would be spending the next 10 days traveling round Cuba with Creative Escapes for a photography tour so our itinerary would be based with photography in mind, rather than the usual tourist points of interest. We would be trying our hand at lots of different genres including portraits, documentary and black and white, with the aim of determining our own individual style. I had done quite a few half day/day courses in London so felt I knew the basics of my camera, semi-auto shooting and composition but I felt ready to take my hobby to the next level. I had thought about combining my love of travel and photography into a trip like this for a while but there was only one place I really wanted to do this and that was Cuba. As relations have been easing between Cuba and the USA, I also felt that now was the time to go before it changed and “the Americans ruined it” (from the mouth of an American tourist!).
I have been settling into my routine this week although I am still wondering when the jet lag will cease as I keep waking up at 5 am every day and then struggling to go back to sleep, even though I am exhausted and have the desire for sleep. However, I remember having the same problem in Mexico City last year so am hoping it will take another day or two before I resort to hitting the Mezcal in a bid to solve the problem!
Volunteering is getting a bit easier now the kids are getting to know and trust me. I am still getting by with pigeon Spanish but I think they understand now to keep repeating everything again and again until I say ah, si entiendo.
As the countdown to my trip is rapidly approaching single digits in terms of the number of days left, one of the biggest differences that I have noticed compared to the preparation for my 11-month trip in my early twenties is the technological aspect. In 1999, I remember thinking about what to pack and making sure I had everyone’s email addresses IF there was a cheap Internet café in Thailand or Australasia. In fact, at the time I left for that trip, I was against the whole idea of mobile telephones and refused to have one until my return in 2000 when the dawn of the millennium suddenly meant it was no longer a “nice to have” but an essential item.
In preparation for this shorter trip, 15 years on, (my stomach just did one of those giant flips of shock as I double-checked whether I had calculated 15 years correctly!) I seem to be consumed by the technological preparations. I know that some of you will be thinking “well, it’s your choice to do it this way, you don’t NEED to take anything other than yourself and a suitcase – it is about creating memories”. This is completely true.
However, after my initial reluctance to embrace technology, I have come to realise the importance of digital communications. As an economics editor by day, I could tell you about how the digital revolution is transforming the lives of people across the world, especially in Africa, helping to lift people out of poverty and contributing to economic growth. In a way, I realise I am in a privileged position to be even sitting having this digital dilemma!
So for anyone who wants to travel 21st Century style, here are the questions you need to ask yourself: Continue reading →