After we had all checked in at the Miami airport on June 16 for our charter flight to Cuba, I remember thinking, "Oh wow, I hope this works."
And by this I meant, 15 women who had never met each other deciding to travel for 10 days together in a foreign country. It could go one of three ways: 15 women traveling beside each other but not really connecting as a group, 15 women getting sick of each other and whining and judging the whole time, or 15 women ending up feeling the bond of friendship.
I looked around at our group of strangers spread apart in age from 22 to 67, with one trying to figure out if she had time to get a manicure at the airport and others looking like they had never had a manicure in their lives, and observed how seemingly different we all were from each other. While trying to remember each others names you could tell we each had our questions about how this experience would yet play out...
My Top 5 Take-Away's
- We don't have to be like each other to like each other. No doubt we were all so very different: some women looked like they had stepped out of fashion magazines every day of the trip while others seemed to be wearing the same outfit in every photo; some women undoubtedly came with unlimited budgets while others were rationing out their CUC's with worried eyes; some looked like they were ready to dance anytime a tune was heard while others needed to put their feet up and rest in the van; some never turned down an opportunity to drink the island rum or local beer while others seemed much happier with water the whole time. We were an eclectic group to be sure. I say all that only to help highlight the beautiful truth that we all really, really, really liked each other. From day one all the way to day ten.
So in Cuba that meant eating dinner in the home of the Three Anna's (a mom and her two daughters who rent out rooms to travelers) in Cuba de Santiago and asking them what it's like to be female entrepreneurs. It meant dance classes and perfume making! It meant looking at how free education and free healthcare leveled the playing field in that country for women and minority groups. It meant that when we were guided through the fine arts museum that the female guide focused on women artists, the women who inspired the male artists, and how women were objectified or seen at different times. Fascinating! I loved being reminded of our connection with our sisters in another country.
Cuba was thought-provoking and fascinating.... the embargo means no Coca-Cola, McDonalds, or Starbucks. Where else have you been where you've seen that reality? The whole country is like a land caught in a time warp where it may be decaying, but you can see the grandeur of their history since it hasn't yet been bull-dozed for condos or replaced with corporate skyscrapers. The people have dance and music running through their veins, along with big doses of idealism, love, and generosity. While we uphold movie stars and singers, they revere their revolutionaries. It was a city of dichotomy where the vision of who they want to be is so spectacular and yet how it plays out can sometimes leave you feeling pangs of sadness... (which is true of the U.S. too.) What a trip!
A huge thanks to the fourteen other women who made my trip so meaningful and memorable.
And to those who feel the tug to travel... We invite you on one of our upcoming trips this fall! We have Egypt from Sept. 26-October 6, Iran from Sept 26-October 6, and Cuba from Nov. 3-12. So whether you want to cruise down the Nile in Egypt, see the Persepolis in Iran, or salsa in Cuba, we will take good care of you and introduce you to new girlfriends who are drawn to travel! All our trips are for women, by women, about women. You are so welcome to join the magic!