Colors of C U B A

As one of the most unique countries I’ve ever visited, catching a glimpse of Cuba was a special opportunity as an American. Traveling legally under a ‘People to People license’, my coworkers-turned-travel sisters had the chance to explore a country that truly feels like you are traveling back in time. You won’t see a Mc. Donalds or a Starbucks in sight- it’s a rare beauty! Cuba’s culture is alive and evident in the architecture, food, and undeniable rhythm of the country.

Trinidad, Cuba
Pastel streets make up beautiful Trinidad
Plaza Mayor, Trinidad. The best outdoor salsa in the evenings, just above those steps to the right!
Plaza Mayor, Trinidad. The best outdoor salsa in the evenings, just above those steps to the right!
IMG_2308
Havana, Cuba
IMG_2409
Traditional Cuban ‘ropas viejas’ (literal translation of “old clothes”) dish of shredded beef and veggies
Strong Cuban coffee is delicious for coffee  addicts like myself
Strong Cuban coffee is delicious for coffee addicts like myself
Mi chica loves her Che
Samara loves the history that makes Cuba so unique. Mi chica loves her Che!
Streets of Havana
Streets of Havana
Inside a local rationing shop where Cubans can collect their monthly goods distributed by the government.
Inside a local rationing shop where Cubans can collect their monthly goods distributed by the government.
The colonial city of Trinidad
My favorite view of the colonial city of Trinidad.
The taxi driver was surprisingly amused with us too
The taxi driver was surprisingly amused with us too
Samara and I after exploring the local markets in Trinidad
Samara and I after exploring the local markets in Trinidad
Got a killer deal for that hand-made leather bag from a local craftsman for less than $30!
Got a killer deal for that hand-made leather bag from a local craftsman for less than $30!
A collection of coins from an antique market in Old Havana
A collection of coins from an antique market in Old Havana
IMG_2493
We loved the pops of color all over the country
Learning Afro-Cuban dances after watching a fun performance
Learning Afro-Cuban dances after watching a fun performance
Taneika's joy is contagious!!
Taneika’s joy is contagious!!
The streets of Old Havana
The streets of Old Havana

Finding freedom

The human spirit needs places where nature has not been rearranged by the hands of manIMG_3033IMG_3039IMG_3000

After moving to Panamá City a little less than two months ago for a new job as a Travel Specialist for a non-profit, the thrill of adventure can turn into frustration from the chaos of living in the hustle of the city and sitting at a desk for 40 hours a week. Buenos días, reality and culture shock. Adjusting to my first “real” big girl, full-time job, embracing Latin American culture, fumbling to learn Spanish, countries away from my loved ones is not always peaches n’cream. At times, I remind myself that I chose this challenge and I learn to choose joy on a daily basis to feel like myself. So much easier said than done, but it’s a learning process and mental exercise that usually is facilitated faster with intentional love and coffee first. This past weekend was such a treat picking up my boyfriend Sean from the airport, celebrating 23 years of life, and spending the weekend tucked up in the mountains of El Valle. We enjoyed the simplicity of just being together and even got to explore a new part of Panamá with what our backpacks could hold. And I’m glad to say the bottle of an Argentine Malbec made it safely through the 2 hour bus ride (with continuous reggaeton playing) to the mountains to celebrate only missing the bus stop once on our journeyInspired by my birthday weekend, discovering Parque Natural Metropolitano, just 15 minutes outside the city was glorious! I felt like Jane of the jungle running through the wilderness, regaining my sense of freedom and curiosity of where I am. Like love, life is so wild–often messy, but beautiful. I’m trying to be present in the little moments.

Sometimes that’s all it takes to feel more alive.