Saturday, 25 September 2010

The Break-In

My second week in Havana started rather emotional as we were awaken fairly early in the morning by the man of the casa, Alex, who asked us if we still had all our belongings... Being newly awaken, and having only gone to bed at around 2.30 am the night before after a great night out discussing politics with a Cuban couchsurfer and one of my fellow UK casa stayers, I had a moment of confusion at first as I could not find my money belt which has usually always been either on me or under my pillow while I sleep.

That morning it was in neither places, and I seemed to recall that I had hung it in the bathroom when I was getting ready for bed and must have left it there. Big panic as the Finish guy who was sleeping by himself in the second bedroom of the casa has had all his valuables stolen during a break-in that night! Poor Salomon.

I ran to the bathroom that was busy, knocked on the door and asked if the person could see a bag in there and she answered that no, the black bag was not there any more. The black bag? How about a beige bag? No, everything was gone...

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

The kindness and heat exhaustion

Before arriving in Cuba, I had read about the supposed kindness of the Cubans, but it took me some days in the country before I actually managed to see real proofs of this unselfish kindness, in opposition to the profit induced 'kindness' of people wanting to 'help' you find a paladares or a casa or whatever you might be looking for.

But in general yes, it seems like most people are extremely kind and ready to help their neighbour without second thoughts. The problem is that as a tourist it is fairly difficult to get to know the genuine Cubans, those who do not try with all means to improve their situation by profiting on tourism. But sometimes you are lucky and there they are, even as a tourist.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Money, money money, must be funny, in a rich man's world

YES! If you are rich, taking off travelling for a year, or why not for the rest of your life, is a lot easier. Just make up your mind and go!

But do you have to be rich to travel for an extended time?

Well, let us be honest, this kind of travel is for a privileged small part of the world's population. A rich part. However, a part that most Europeans are lucky enough to belong to. And if you are reading this blog post – hence having internet access and time, energy and opportunity to read blogs, heck, even to be able to read – then you most definitely belong to this group.

So, am I saying that anyone can save up enough money for several months of travel? Actually, I am!

Monday, 20 September 2010

Day 5 – Salsa!!

After a lazy morning mostly spent on the net sending blog entries and pictures to Nuno (he is the webmaster of our blog while he's still in Geneva, then we'll both be working on it during the rest of our travels), I came back to the flat and bumped into Matt, an English guy who is staying in a neighboring casa but likes to have breakfast in our casa as it's a big nice meal (I had already opted out from this choice after the 3rd day, as although a lot of food, the cost is 5 CUC, and for this you can get enough food in the market for all the day's meal).

Matt suggested I come with him for his salsa class as it is in a private place where you need to be introduced to be let in. At 10 CUC per hour, I thought it a bit expensive (considering that my one-to-one Spanish classes cost 5 CUC per hour), but I figured that I would give it a try.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Day 4 – early morning, a city void of tourists

For some reason, now that i do not have to get up to go to work – which has always been a struggle for me – I find myself wakening up at around 6.30 am. And it's not even that I'm jetlagged really as I fall asleep around midnight without any problem and sleep through the night like a kitten.

This morning, I again woke up that early and decided to catch the sunrise over the Malecón (the wall protecting the city from the waves) as it is supposed to be really beautiful. The sky was indeed slightly pink outside my room, but the time I made it out the sun had already risen. So, sunrise spotting and pictures will have to wait until another day.

I might have missed the sunrise, but I witnessed the rise of the city instead.

Day 3 – homesick

After two good first days, the third day homesickness hit me like a cold shower over the head. I spent the morning wasting time in my room and feeling generally sad, low, alone.

Perhaps it was the normal state of realising that this is the beginning of a year of travel, including two months by myself in the beginning. I never had time to really realise this in Geneva before leaving, and probably the realisation slowly dawned on me.

The following is what I jutted down, sitting by the sea on top of the Malecón after a tear filled phone call with Nuno. To reassure you, about half an hour later, it started to rain, first a tiny bit, then like if the ocean decided to jut up into the sky and throw itself on the city. I got trapped in the middle,

I'll be a Spanish pro shortly

My first Spanish classes with the lovely el maestro, also known as Ada. A professor in languages (if I have understood correctly), who speaks fluent English (although we mostly speak in Spanish, well, at least she does, I speak in bla bla language), and is really nice and quite well structured.

We spent two hours together this first day, and I think we were both surprised of how much I actually manage to understand. And even how much I can say.

Losing myself in Havana

I like to 'loose' myself the first day in a new city.
Basically, walk out the door into the unknown streets and just start walking following my instinct of what might be an interesting road. Very often this technique has meant that bumping into cool places I would most probably never have discovered if just following the guidebooks.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

How did I do it?

Besides one day wakening up and deciding that if you want to do this RTW year, it is now or never, as in a couple of years you risk to be tied down even more than now – how does one actually go ahead and leave for a year of travel?

Well, dreaming about it for more than 10 years definitely help ;)

Seriously, it actually does as you get somewhat mentally prepared, you have time to make a plan of the places you really want to visit (and remake it, and remake it), and if you are lucky, as I was, talking about this dream for so many years might also help you financially.

But... I must be crazy!!!

Have you ever decided to leave a good, well-remunerated, safe, interesting, sought of job?

I have now. And yes, sometimes I have agreed with the reaction of about half of the people that are informed, that I must indeed be crazy.

At moments, when nothing seemed to come together and my life was just a big chaotic mess, or when taking this leap suddenly seemed more frightening than interesting, or when I listened a bit too long to those mentioning how difficult indeed finding a job is in these times – I agreed. I thought that indeed I must have been crazy that day back in May when I went in and told my boss that I was leaving come end of August. The reason:

Take-Off / Day 0

As I am starting to write this blog entry, I find myself in a quite comfortable seat after a meal of pasta Siciliana at some 10'000 meters, somewhere over the Atlantic sea. We left 2 hours late which were spent in this same seat, but it does not matter. The flight took off, and I have all the time in the world to reach my destination with another 360 or so days of travel in my own rhythm ahead...

How is this possible?

Adaptation Lag

Helena is enjoying "the warm and humid Havana"  where there is "music from the streets and old American cars".

But for us, enthusiastic readers, that are anxious for an update on Helena's experience we might have to be a bit patient... I just learned that:
Currently Cuba still uses its satellite connection with a 65 Mb/s upload bandwidth and a 124 Mb/s download bandwidth for the entire country.
I made a rough calculation and realized that the entire Cuban territory has access to about the same amount of internet traffic as 100 persons in EU! Plus the access to internet is limited and costly.

Moreover Cuba is CET-6 hours. In practical terms it means that although it has passed 2 days since her departure, she only had 1 adaptation day in Havana.

Gooood Morning!

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Departure Nr. 1

There she goes.
This morning we drove from Geneva to Milan, where Helena embarked on a flight to Havana - Cuba.
It was a mix of stress, nostalgia, sadness and Happiness.

Below I put some pictures that catch the moment.

As you can see, here at Global Travellers the way to travel is: light, in style and with a big smile on the face.

After watching these pictures an old Stevie Wonder song came to my mind: "Isnt she lovely, isnt she wonderfull".

Helena, we all miss you, and are now anxiously waiting for the first impressions
Kisses, Nuno.

This is where it officially starts!

The idea is that 2 travellers go for a trip around the world.

Helena and Nuno started dreaming about this project long long time ago, but it has always been delayed for later.

The dream was made up of beautiful flashes, vivid colors, interesting cultures, amazing places, flavors, smells, encounters, friendships, and returning safely with an experience that would stay forever in our minds.

Now it is finally time for the dream to come true.