LUGGAGE Lady

Contemplations about Life, Love, & the Pursuit of Meaningful Existence…

Archive for the month “January, 2015”

Bienvenido a Cuba

CubaColors

Proximity has zero bearing. Less than an hour flight from Miami catapults us backward 50-plus years. On the exterior of the tiny Cienfuegos Airport, a bright blue BIENVENIDO sign beckons.

I possess a Visa solely as part of an approved People to People Program. Daily exchanges to include: mingling with artists, vocalists, musicians (including members from the Grammy-winning Buena Vista Social Club!!), dancers, entrepreneurs, environmentalists, spiritual leaders, historians, teachers, and students.

Being here as a U.S. citizen leaves me both awed by opportunity — yet pondering whether my coming is somehow…unpatriotic.

From a bureaucratic standpoint, our welcome is somewhat subdued. Neither U.S. bank-issued credit nor ATM cards are accepted. We knew this before we came. Cash in hand, we pay a 10% commission to change dollars into CUCs at a rate of 1/1. This is not a bargain shopper’s destination. Cellular service doesn’t exist for those with U.S. carriers, and internet is only available in some 5-star Havana hotels at speeds slower than our modem days.

Our Cuban guide shares that, up until a few years ago, a local would be sentenced up to four years in prison if caught using internet in his or her home. He laughs, referring to our online shopping as folklore. “Cubans can’t imagine paying for something on a screen and having it actually show up on our doorsteps. Forget about returning it and getting a refund!” Satellite TV is also forbidden. Some people have illegal hookups but know they could face hefty fines if the authorities learn of these.

No one in our 22-person group minds. We didn’t come to Cuba to bury our noses in gadgets. We came to experience the contagious verve of the people…

We step onto crumbling cobblestone roads and into another century. Surprisingly well-preserved American made (and Russian overhauled) vintage cars roar all about. Vibrant colors and zippy music tantalize our senses. Even standing in place, the locals sway to a beat I’m convinced is part of their DNA.

From Cienfuegos to Havana, with stops in Trinidad and stunning beaches along the way, I admire close-knit families, communities, and a refreshing enthusiasm from school children to the elderly. The hope sparkling in their eyes touches my soul in a way I struggle to adequately articulate.

I’m just an ordinary girl — with extraordinary freedoms, privileges, and conveniences I need never question. Gratitude and humility flood my heart.

As we make our way to Havana’s airport the last day, our gregarious guide describes the tedious departure process, adding that clients ask him what the airport is like on the other side of immigration. Are there shops? Restaurants? He shrugs. “Well, maybe one of you will be kind enough to send an email when you get home and tell me because I’ve never been…”

🌎 ♥ 🌎

♥ I dedicate this post to my dear friend & colleague, Maria, who left her beautiful island in the second grade and dreams of returning one day soon… ♥

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Be the Difference

BetheDifference

“Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be one.” — Marcus Aurelius

♥ ♥ ♥

How different my days unfold when I share a kind word, carefree laughter, and positive stories. When I pause to lend a helping hand, listen to another, or support whatever causes I can. When I choose love instead of vying to be right!! With so many uplifting options, why — oh why — do I ever choose behavior that depletes my spirit?

And so…

My New Year’s Aspiration is to be:

Focused on present moment

Shunning negativity Realizing

Whatever I deem the world to be withholding

I already possess

Abundance swelling my heart

Gifting me with endless benevolence

Abandoning ego

Remaining judgement-free

Appreciating earth’s unmitigated beauty

Sincerely listening

Speaking only if my words add value

Observing more

Learning

Growing

Loving

Mindful that a smile means the same thing all around the world

Doing everything in my power to

Be the difference…

♥ ♥ ♥

Luggage Lady is off to Cuba!!!! My husband and I, along with 20 others, are participating in a “people-to-people cultural exchange” as we sail along Cuba’s gorgeous coastline, visiting Cienfuegos, Trinidad, Cayo Largo, Cabo San Antonio, and Havana. I promise to return with photos and stories. In the meantime, I wish you ALL a blissful 2015 filled with untold blessings!! 😘

(*photo from trip to End of the Road Kalapana, Hawaii*)

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