Pictures by Christian Samuelson and Ana Rosemin
So, once again I am writing this from a plane, this time on my way to San Francisco. This trip obviously makes me even more aware of how fortunate I am of being able to travel the world like this, even if it is with work this time around. But it has also made me realise one thing, long haul flights are a great time to dedicate to things you love. I mean, in this day and age, we are rarely fortunate to have 10+ hours to ourselves, with no distractions from the outside world. No internet, whatsapp or netflix to keep us away from spending time deep in thought, having some quality “me time”, or just relaxing. I have decided to be productive with this opportunity and use it to spend time doing what I really love, and that is working on this blog.
This state of isolation, freedom from connections, time for your thoughts and talent is exactly what we experienced during a week in Cuba. Before making it out there, we had a bit of a panic or two (and by we, I mean my better half) thinking of the prospect of no internet for week. But actually we got used to it instantly. Without that constant need to share and be connected, we started to really take in the beauty that surrounded us.
Where we really felt this connection with our surroundings was during our trip to Viñales, our first stop outside of Havana. I am rarely one to pick favourites, but Viñales was by far our numero uno stop on our Cuban roadtrip and I recommend everyone to make the detour and visit this Unesco World Heritage site.
Viñales is known for its Mogotes and tobacco plantations, with farmers and local families renting out their spare rooms for curious, nature driven tourists. The one thing we were adamant to do on our arrival was to check out the tobacco fields and meet a local farmer. So unfortunately the season was over for tobacco plants, but that just made our visit all that better, as we got to learn far more about the rest of the flora of the region. Juanito, our guide and trained geologist, took us on a 3 hour trip discovering plants, trees and the tobacco making process, that is the bread and butter of the land. We met a farmer who rolled a cigar from scratch for us, while sharing his family secret of adding a little bit of honey to the tip of the cigar… Worth a try for those of you with a sweet tooth.
My favourite moment of the entire trip was the afternoon that followed. We sat on the porch of our Casa, with our bottle of imported Coke, on a rocking chair, taking in the beauty and greenery of the Cuban Mogotes, reading about the history of the island. I guess beauty really is the simplest of things, but a stunning setting isn’t half bad either.
It is worth nothing the one thing that is oozing out of the pores of Cuba, other than its natural beauty, is the sheer talent and intellect that inhabits the island. Not only every other person you cross on the street is a trained lawyer, engineer, account or neuroscientist, but they can also either play an instrument or paint, as well as obviously dance. Now you may think I am just painting a stereotype but I think to the contrary it would be disfavour to this country not to praise the talent and skill of its beautiful people. Now if this multitude of talents is linked to its practical isolation to our contemporary sources of distraction, I don’t know, I can only speculate.