travel diaries: cayo santa maria

I strongly believe that travelling is healthy for you. Escape your regular life for a little while to travel, whether it’s 12 hours across the world, or 2 hours away from your home. I can’t emphasize how important it is to take some time to yourself to see the world, make memories with family / friends, or to just take some time to yourself! If you think about it, we dedicate so much time to working at our jobs, going to school, doing assignments, we try to squeeze in some time for our social life and by the end of the day, we’re exhausted. Time just passes us by, we don’t even realize how much we don’t take the time to enjoy our lives. I don’t know about you, but I’m always on the go. I’m literally stressed out 80% of the time. This was my first vacation since I was 15. I’ve never taken more than a couple days off from work and I’ve never gone further than Ottawa, which is about 4 hours away from Toronto, as a little getaway. I found myself growing sick of the city. I was so tired of doing the same routine 7 days a week, I needed to get away. I needed a break from the city, somewhere further than Ottawa. I was dying to leave the country. I literally had dreams about being somewhere far away, I knew that I had to see the world in order to appreciate what I have here at home.

The excitement of travelling is a feeling that I’ll never get over, I loved every moment of it! I managed to overcome my fear of flying, all glory to God, I found myself talking to Him the entire time I was in the air, and it was a feeling that I can’t even describe if I wanted to. All I can say is that I’m so grateful.

When I arrived to Santa Clara, Cuba at nearly 10AM, the first thing that I noticed when I walked off the airplane was the strong smell of the ocean. There’s something about the ocean, or any body of water that I’m naturally drawn to. I couldn’t help but catch myself smiling the entire time from the airport in Santa Clara, to the resort in Cayo Santa Maria.

I travelled with my boyfriend, Vince, and he was just as excited as I was. Working 5 days a week, for eight hours, can really take a toll on your health in all aspects; mentally, physically and emotionally. We both needed this getaway to fully appreciate what we have at home. It took a place like Cuba for us to understand that we are so fortunate here in Toronto, but we tend to worry and complain about so much. Whereas, I found that Cubans were always so happy, there was never a time where I wasn’t greeted by someone, they were so easy to talk to, and their energy was just so vibrant and happy. I wish I could be that happy, I swear. Before this trip, I found myself stressed out about everything, worrying about way too much and taking for granted all of what I have in Toronto. Midway through the trip, I was thankful and appreciative for the life that I was given and the lengths that I can go in life if I really apply myself.

For those who took the time to complain about the little things during their stay in Cuba, I honestly pray that you find the time to be a little more grateful someday. For a country that has very little, they give their visitors as much as they can. One night, while Vince & I were getting dessert at the buffet, we sat in a different section than we normally do, and we were greeted by our server, Maguel. He was an older gentleman, but his laugh and cheerfulness made him seem so young. He made us laugh, made sure that we were enjoying the food and drinks, he even told us a little bit about his life and asked about ours. He told us about how horrible the economy is in Cuba and how hard it is to make 20 pesos. He also told us that he works 12 hours a day, and it takes him about 2 hours to commute home from work. I was so drawn to how positive this man was, he took the lemons in life and made lemonade. On our last day in Cuba, we ran into Maguel, and he told us to stop by the buffet because he had a surprise for me. I honestly thought that he was just going to bless me with a little extra wine or something, I didn’t really think much of it. That night, we went to the buffet a little late, and I spotted Maguel, working hard as usual. I walked over to him and he looked so happy to see me! He didn’t say anything, he just turned around and pulled out an item from a drawer near his work station. He then handed to me a handmade bracelet with the Cuban flag, and “Cuba” engraved on this square shaped wooded marble. If you know me, then you know that I cry for everything. It might’ve been something small to him, but it meant so much to me because this man told us stories about his family, his struggles, and his gratefulness to just be given the chance to be alive. My gratitude goes out to Maguel, he’s one of the reasons I’ve come back to Toronto with a whole new mindset to be grateful for the life I have and to always treat people with kindness.

All in all, I encourage to whomever reads this, to find some time to travel. Take time away from your regular life to explore everything that the world has to offer. I promise you, it will be worth every penny (even though pennies don’t exist anymore, but y’all get the point).

‘Til next time, loves!

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