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!
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Havana, Cuba
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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
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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

Defining beauty

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Passing through a village outside of Kolkata, I quickly snapped this woman’s photo since I had fallen behind the rest of the group. I heard a “hey!” in broken English right after I passed her. I walked back to her, thinking she’d be upset I took her photo without asking.
I told her, “You look so beautiful. Can I take your photo?”
She instantly smiled then started posing for me, which is not common in this culture.

The few moments with her made me realize how she maybe hadn’t been recognized or noticed in the longest time.

What a beauty!

I N D I A

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India hit me like a two week-long, continuous hot yoga class–mentally and physically exhausting, yet rewarding and strangely empowering in ways I didn’t expect.

I was flooded with feelings of awe in the vibrant colors of the details and the natural essence of a simple, yet full life in the jungle. I’m anxious to share memories and stories that stood out based on the relationships created and the moments that made this experience so precious. Amongst the exhaustion from the humidity and travel challenges of health and discomfort, there is something so beautiful and fulfilling in acting out kindness.

Life without borders

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In two weeks, I leave for an anticipated challenging adventure to India. My heart has been anxiously pursing something to stay passionate about, and that kept me close to my wanderlust and love for people.

As I join a group of diverse people from different ages and backgrounds, we share a common mission in putting love into action. Love is powerful and poverty is something foreign to most of us living in a place where we can access clean water and a toilet when we want. India has been on my heart for years and I am trying to prepare my heart with little expectations.

This short, two week (yet rewarding) opportunity allows me to grow in my faith in humanity, learn from a different culture than my own, while being open to what India can teach me about life. I don’t pretend I know what it is like to live in poverty, but I am grateful for the opportunity to connect with new friends in India. My hope is to be fully engaged and revealing kindness in action, without hesitation or fear. I don’t think you need to fly across the world in order to practice this, but I believe God is creative and values our willingness to explore His world.

Preparing for this adventure takes patience and consistent reflection. However, I have come to realize that we can only prepare ourselves so much for adventures; part of the experience is learning how to respond when challenges arise, and how to trust that things will turn out just as they should.

What would your life look like without borders?

What Chinese Buddhism taught me

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Be balanced, be kind, unwind your mind.

After a challenging, yet rewarding five-day retreat at a Buddhist Monastery, as part of my Philosophical Buddhism course this past January, I couldn’t help but return back to the Hsi Lai Temple. I was involved in the Chinese New Year celebrations where the women were dressed in traditional Laos and Indian costumes, and it felt strangely comfortable not needing to have everything translated into English–I instantly felt like I was being transported to Asia for the day. So who’s ready to explore SE Asia with me now?

Up on the rooftop

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Can we talk about how gorgeous my friends are for a hot minute?

They’re my undercover models.

I’ve grown up with these gals and we’ve seen each other at our worst and at our best. No matter what happens or where life takes us, we still hold on to each other. And we’re always, always laughing.

P.S. after getting into trouble for our shanahanigans on the rooftop, our next move included splitting a pitcher of margaritas and tacos for happy hour and planning our next adventure.

Impulsive dreaming

“It’s ok to be sleepless and restless.Late nights and early mornings are worth it.It’s ok to let a dream consume you.To breathe it, eat it, drink it, make love to it, let it seep in, permeate through your pores, pulse through your veins, rise the hair up on your skin, bounce from cell to cell and let it radiate from the very core of you.I feel we have to dream a dream that way, otherwise it’ll only be just a dream.”-Satori

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My impulsiveness loves that life is always the biggest adventure if we want it to be.

Memories of Morocco

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I could only hear bits and pieces of the conglomerate of noises that surrounded me on both sides. We slowly walked down tiny, jagged alleys as men draped in long battered cloths loudly called out to us in broken English. “I give you good prices”, one said. I stopped feverishly—I was curious to feel the handmade leather of the bags displayed. Each leather bag felt tired, worked for hours, designed purposely with a contrast of color from the hand woven carpet. My eyes marveled through the amount of treasures I saw within each burrow that belonged to the individual merchants. Pops of burnt orange of the walls and the vibrant colors of every market caught my eyes. I could smell spices and a steam cloud from the woman frying dough down the street filled the air. The streets were busy with swarms of people—it was like we were caught within a hectic maze as locals zoomed by us on rustic motorcycles, and as the stray cats followed our every move. Small coves of hanging lanterns led me inside. There, I saw a hamsa pendant dangling on the walls. I had seen this symbol before in other cities and countries. It was a comforting reminder of the journeys these past few months between a foreign land. It spoke to me-as a sign that I was that I was safe. Even thousands of miles away from what I was familiar of, I felt at ease knowing I was protected wherever my feet took me.

I don’t know if it was the rawness within each corner of the bustling city, or the meticulous detail shown through the impeccable architecture, or the smile from the local old man as I kindly asked to take his photograph, but I was smitten by the chaos of Marrakech. Morocco had stolen my full attention—and it still often lingers in my mind.