more you travel
the smaller the world becomes
always been a big believer in the importance of traveling
to other countries and meeting people from different cultures
to develop a broader perspective of the world around us.
use my recent trip to Cuba as a perfect example. I went
with my two boys James and Dylan, who I have been promising
to take away as a high school graduation present for the
past year now.
until a couple of weeks ago, circumstances with work and
the paper prevented me from doing so, but then I finally
thought if not now then perhaps never.
booked the plane tickets through Sunwing out of Montreal
on a last-minute deal. The destination was entirely dependent
on what day of the week we could leave. The two choices
were either Holguin in the south of Cuba on a Wednesday,
or Santa Clara, in the centre of the country, on a Friday.
I chose Santa Clara because of its proximity to Cayo Santa
Maria on the north shore, Havana, and Trinidad.
never been to Cuba, so I didnt know anything about
any of these places except for Havana.
ulterior motive, besides taking the boys on a trip, was
to see Cuba before the Americans turn into another Disney
the week we spent in Cuba (see page 10 for part one of
our trip) we met people from all over the world. We spent
the first two days at an Airbnb in Havana. Airbnbs are
everywhere in Cuba and for my money are the best places
to stay. We paid $45 a night for a second floor, one bedroom
apartment with a kitchen and a small terrace that looked
out over a garden, owner by a woman named Niky.
the best part was Nikys neighbour Andy. Andy is
a 22-year-old doctoral student who became our driver,
guide and after just two days a trusted friend.
could speak to Andy about anything. Cuban politics, where
the best restaurants were, the hottest night club; his
favourite baseball players, how to avoid being ripped
off by taxi drivers
you name it.
learned more about Autentica Cuba in two days
with Andy than all of the travel sites on the Internet.
For one, I learned that most Cubans are on Facebook, and
not some cheap facsimile, but the real deal.
cant remember how many times I read Cubans dont
have access to Face-book. I also learned that Cuba has
serious infrastructure issues. Andys biggest com-plaint
is the potholes that litter the streets in Havana
also told me about how difficult it is to navigate through
government regulations and get things like building permits.
His father is a contractor. When I told him that contractors
and small business owners in Ottawa can sometimes take
months to get building permits approved, he didnt
two days in Havana, we traveled to Trinidad, a small colonial
city on the south side of the island about an hour east
was in Trinidad that we met fellow travellers from Spain,
San Francisco, Los Angeles, Australia, and Sweden.
was also able to talk to a couple of local restaurant
owners about Cuba and how much things have changed there
over the past 10 years. They both said the country has
a long way to go, but both agreed that their parents could
never have imagined owning things like cell phones and
laptops with unfettered access to the Internet and social
are also fearful, however. Fearful, that the current Cuban
leadership will cut a deal with Trump and open things
up for their own benefit rather that the benefit of the
Cuban people. A running joke is that the first American-owned
hotel in Havana will be a Trump Tower.
to all these people from dif-ferent walks of life and
different countries affirmed my belief that we are all
basically the same with the same wants, desires and needs.
all want to raise a family in a safe environment with
access to health care. We all live in countries which
generally have the same issues when it comes to the relationship
between the people and the government. That is, the less
government interferes with our lives the better.
belief that 19-year-old boys are the same the world over,
was also affirmed in conversations with parents of 19-year-old
boys from Cuba, California, England and Spain. They spend
way too much time on the Internet playing video games
and think their parents are old and boring
for me, of course.
hope those same themes have struck a chord with my boys,
and that as they grow up they too will gain an appreciation
of the benefits of traveling to other countries and meeting
the local inhabitants.
you wish to comment on this or any other View Point column
please write to Fred Sherwin at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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