Seven years ago, I flew to the far eastern Holquin resort area of Cuba to attend a wedding for friends of my daughter and son in law … a lovely wedding it was, with good friends and family around, flanked by a stunningly beautiful turquoise sea, a calming breeze, warmth and an abundance of sunshine …. however, after a week of swimming, sunning and endless parties, I was left feeling cut off from experiencing much of Cuba or its people, yearning to return and learn about this country, the largest island in the Greater Antilles at 1,250 km in length!! …. not a single island actually, but a varied archipelago, all washed by the Atlantic Ocean, Carbibbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. I wanted to experience firsthand the culture, the people, the history, projections for the future …. from the best source … the Cubans themselves!
In 2007, I had not yet developed a working relationship with Global Volunteers, in fact, had not even heard of them! In 2010 I worked on my first posting with Global in the peaceful, serene South Pacific island of Rarotonga. Flashing forward a number of years, with a five year relationship volunteering around the world with Global now under my belt, it took no time at all (well a bit of time, in all honesty …. while I wavered for a few months … working in humid heat is not a personal favourite 🙂 ) …. to make up my mind to come here for their first volunteer posting in Cuba!
During the course of working with Global in five different countries, I have discovered, much to my surprise and delight …. what fun it is!! … to travel, learn, grow and discover different cultures, learn different layers about myself as well, all while lending a helping hand! Seems an almost perfect fit for someone suffering from incurable wanderlust. So …. here I be …. in the wee city of Ciego de Avila in central Cuba, ready to work with a team of fourteen Americans, led by Global’s team leader Pam Cromer and our Cuban hosts, Eduardo and his assistant, Ramon! Bring it on Cuba 🙂
Walking the streets of Ciego de Avila certainly gives a brief glimpse into the life and culture in small town central Cuba but it has been in the volunteering work our group has been involved with, that we have really come to know and to some degree, understand the Cuban soul. I remain so very humbled by the kindness and goodness of these beautiful people that I am almost rendered speechless most days. Thankfully, I am with the most amazing group of Americans I have ever had the good fortune to encounter and they are ALL beyond articulate at expressing, in great detail I might add, our daily experiences in Ciego de Avila!! How on earth did I luck out to have on a volunteer mission ….. not one or two, but ALL fourteen members of our team ….. such bright, highly observant, aware, articulate, humble, goofy, funny Americans?? It is as though someone shone a light my way and said …. ‘here Seija, sending goodness your way’!!! ….. what on earth did I do to deserve this? I think I will post their Global journal entries in my blog …. their descriptives are just that good …. superior in every way to anything I could ever conceive of writing! To a tee they are all potential writers, especially Andrew, our youngest at 19, who has already published his first book!,! To quote the sweetest and funniest of our group, dear Holly Doll, my Cuba gardening partner …. (yes, that IS her real name!!) …. “I LOVE CUBA!!!” Posting some precious faces … Cubans and team members alike ….
…. Glenda contemplating a next fun activity for our students!! Her “tooty toot” dance was a total goofy hit with us all!!
Loved working on the garden project with this troop!!
Students waiting for their loyal teachers 🙂