I cannot believe it's been almost an entire month since my last post, but I have a valid reason. And no, this picture is not a generic picture copied from somewhere online... You see, that's actually where I was!
We took our first family vacation overseas and went to Varadero, Cuba! Well, we didn't go for an entire month, but with getting ready for back to school, getting into the school routine for a week and then leaving for 10 days, I didn't exactly have time to blog. But I'm back home now. And what a vacation this has been!
Cuba was absolutely wonderful! The beaches were stunning, the water was so clear and warm. The kids were insisting in swimming at the pool the first few days, but we were able to convince (and show them) just how fun the beach and the ocean could be. They are now converted! They couldn't get enough of it!
One morning, on my way to the beach at the resort, there was a guy cutting open some coconut and I got to drink the water from this beauty. It tasted like heaven. I sometimes buy young Thai coconuts (which is pretty much like this minus the green outer skin), but after tasting this, I can tell you with certitude that the water (and meat) from the young Thai coconuts from the store taste like chemicals. The taste of this coconut water and meat was pure. I enjoyed every sip of it, and I cannot wait to drink one like this again some day!
Of course, we didn't stay on the resort the entire time. We took a catamaran ride, went snorkeling at a reef, had lunch at Cayo Blanco, visited markets into the town, walked the streets, took cab rides, did the panoramic bus tour of Varadero, and even did a day trip to Havana.
(Revolution Square, Havana)
Cuba has so much history, from past events, to architecture. The people there are kind, and I've meet so many wonderful souls! I have to say, my hubby and I both fell completely in love with the country, but especially Havana. It was both a trip back in time, and to other parts of the world. So much European influences, it was fascinating!
Of course, leaving the resort also allows you to see the realities of the country, the poverty, the difficulties. We had many great conversations with locals, one of them worked at a little snack bar in town, others worked on the resort. Some of them working two full time jobs, trying to provide basic needs for their families. Economically, the country is a mess. The average salary of public workers being around $30 CUC (equivalent to US dollar) a month. At the beginning of the trip, I was shocked with the cheap prices of things there. The souvenirs such as beautifully handmade wooden cars for only $4 CUC, a can of beer for $2, or even 35 cents for an espresso!
Eventually, it hit me.
If a person only makes $30 a month, that $4 chicken, which only feeds your family for a few days, really is expensive to you. I know we haven't even seen some of the places that were higher in poverty, but after all the amazing conversations I had with different locals, I felt like I understood their reality much better.
This trip made me appreciate my life on a whole new level.
Gratitude has a much deeper meaning to me now.
I'll admit, I was pretty burned out before the trip. I was very low on patience with my kids, my productivity around the house was at an all time low, I had trouble falling asleep at night and getting out of bed in the morning was quite a task. Once I was up, it still took me hours to get started on any housework or project.
Our trip completely recharged me, both as an individual and as a parent. It completely changed how my children and I interact together. We have a whole new level of respect for each other and we are continuing our good habits at home now too. My children are even more grateful for what they have now, after seeing and understanding how difficult life is for others in the world.
I think that's what travelling should be about. Learning, growing, exploring, touching and life altering.
And we are forever changed, and grateful <3 p="">3>