February 2017 – Travel Lessons

I went to a travel presentation on Cuba, for information only. I left knowing it would be my next trip. I like small trips getting to know local people and helping the local economy. We found a support the Cuban people tour staying with local families in casa particulares. Being a super planner, I took Spanish and Cuban salsa lessons, downloaded language programs, studied the history from pre Spanish times, read books and watched movies. No amount of research could have prepared me for the culture. In Havana the first time a few of us ventured out, I was hypnotized by the colors, sounds, and aromas. The energy was off the charts vibrant. Following are my three top lessons from the trip.

Lesson 1 – Do More with Less. I have never seen a country that has done so much with so little. You never knew what you would find as a shower curtain, toilet handle or door lock. I especially appreciated this while locked in a Ladies room in a nice restaurant. Locks are not always what you think there J. The beautiful classic cars are a prime example of reuse, keeping something running for more than 50 years. Now that I am back in the land of the throw away culture, I have a renewed commitment to reuse of things I own. I plan on purchasing more recycled products.

Lesson 2 – Enjoy People. One of the things that impressed me was how warmly friends and family were greeted. This was not a “Don’t Hug me I’m Minnesotan” country. Our guide and driver both had an awesome energy. I just loved to see them greet their friends on the road. The wonderful families who housed us, made us feel a part of the family. Last year I started reconnecting people from my past who mean a lot to me. I will continue this year, I will make more time for people.

Lesson 3 – Relax and Have Fun. From the formal shows to the street musicians, music was always in the air. In Cuban Salsa the handhold and arms are relaxed. There is more eye contact and a subtle sensual communication between the follow and lead. The best learning happens when we are focused but having fun. Not one teacher was intimidating. By the end of my last dance session in Cuba, I reached that magical point where I was not thinking about performing steps but dancing.  I will learn new things with a relaxed focus this year.