I’ve decided to go walkabout.
Here are some essential things I’m taking with me.
My middle name. Is it an alter ego? Do I have a secret life? Naw, it’s just that my Spanish speaking friends find it easier and seem to like it and once I looked at it as the endearment of Ana and not my old grandma’s name (Sorry Grandma!) I decided I liked it….a lot. So I’m taking it with me walkabout.
A poor grasp of the language. Does that bother me? Nope, I’ve gotten along with not speaking the language in many countries. I don’t expect people to speak English, I try in the local language, laugh a lot, fail miserably and get some kind of message across….I have iTranslate and some phrases written down and while I have been working on my Español for a couple of years now, Cuban Spanish is quite different and more difficult. (oops, did I give my location away?)
Some not so good maps. They just really don’t exist so much, but I can tell east from west and eventually since I’m on an island, I’ll come across water and after all, isn’t that the final end game in everything I do? Reaching salt water?
A really old water purifier….Not so sure that it still works so I looked it up on the internet (the answer to all) and well, it’s not made anymore…so I did pick up some kind of chlorine tablet. I’m a little afraid because on the package it says it’s toxic to fish…SERIOUSLY! and, well, after all….that is what I am.
Lyrics to Spanish songs. Okay, you can laugh, but it’s a great way to learn to language. Singing in a foreign language means you can’t stop and think of what you are saying, you have to move your mouth with the speed of the singer. So I have songs on my iTunes and the lyrics printed on paper and while I sing along at the top of my voice walking down a country road next week, all those around me will marvel at my prowess of Spanish poetry in motion….
Zero internet. Nada and Zilch. Can you imagine someone, anyone going out into the wild with no internet? Well, I’m over 50 so that explains it. No meltdown at all, just peace.
My 53 year old self. Yep, really not much of a choice. Because adventure is not age driven, it’s about what’s inside your heart. And besides, it’s going to be difficult to leave at home. Walkabout is not necessarily for the 20 somethings.
Everyone knows that I think it’s critical to the enjoyment of life to have adventure. But I also think it’s important to have adventure alone (nothing personal honey!) and time to think. So while Ridlon is on the Private Jet trip, I thought I would opt for a little adventure myself. I decided I wanted to walk across Cuba…. the long way, silly. But since I don’t happen to have three free months I decided to to it in pieces. This 100 mile section is the first piece of exploring the 750 miles of the island.
I want to do something physical but not something I have to train months and months for…after all, it IS a 53 year old body. I don’t want the “physical “to be either the goal or the limiting fact but I want it to play a key role. It’s simply the mode and the speed I’ve chosen.
There are some changes coming to my life and I want time to make the transition from one to the other through mindful contemplation. Our lives have run in 5th gear for way too long. Walking slows both the body and mind, allows space for thought and creativity. I feel the need to get away in order to come home with a fresh mindset.
But don’t worry, it’s nothing earth shattering. If it was, I’d go to a shrink….
Instead, I’m taking some Mini Snack Pack Chips Ahoy cookies and going walkabout to visualize an exciting new “ocean-centric” future. I’m getting ready to put on my mermaid tail and dive in.
Yes, of course, I’m headed to Cuba, those of you who know me well, know that I have fallen in love with this beautiful little nation that I have now visited 30 times bringing People to People groups. This, will be the ultimate People to People experience.
There are many reasons I have chosen Cuba for a walkabout.
First and foremost the people. I have loved every minute of the past three years I’ve been privileged to be here because of the friendly people. But I’ve always had a guide with me to help me along. It’s time for me to be on my own, to be without time and schedule and to engage in the small communities with absolutely no agenda.
It’s one of the safest places I know for a woman to travel. There are no guns and basically no drugs in Cuba. There are still people in the countryside who will smile and take you in. Certainly it is not without it’s problems but for the moment, while Cuba is still “Cuba” it’s the choice for me. There are no poisonous snakes or bears or mountain lions. They say the most dangerous animal in Cuba is the Cuban male. Well, I’ve had three years of practice deflecting that one and plenty of Cuban women friends to show me how.
Cuba is still the Caribbean 50 years ago, especially in the country. Life goes at a slower place, still by horse and buggy, still by oxen and plow. I want to be a part of that while it lasts.
So….. What’s left to pack?
Tomorrow, I need to buy some new shoe laces since mine are frayed and if I have a shoe lace blow out, the world will probably end. Except that the Cubans are the most ingenious people I know. So they would help me fashion one out of…well, I’m not sure what…that’s their specialty.
And the last essential things I will pack are my free spirt, my open mind, my ability to laugh, my sense of awe and wonder, and my kind heart……and some Hersey chocolate….that never hurts either.
See you in November!