The Next Big Thing

Taking a break from Cuban adventures, I’m so excited for my next big adventure post-graduation. I got the opportunity to work for Outward Bound in Moab, Utah this summer as a Logistics Coordinator. For those who haven’t heard of Outward Bound, it is an incredible adventure trip company and you should check it out here. I’ll be packing and preparing for there trips and driving very large trucks with horse trailers attached to them, full of gear. Scary, right? I don’t think so! I’m envisioning it being a bit like my current job at ORec to the 10th power, but we’ll see.

Although I’ve never been, Moab seems like it’ll be a pretty cool place to live for a summer. It’ll be about the same temperature as it would be in Columbia, but without the humidity, which I think is awesome. Its right near Arches National Park, and the Colorado River runs right through it, making it a haven for mountain biking, whitewater rafting and people who just love the outdoors and want to soak in some great views.

How could you not want to come visit me after seeing these pictures? I’m sure it’ll be better in person.

 

Who knows, maybe I’ll even get to meet resident celebrity Andy Lewis (you know him from slacklining in the Super Bowl halftime show this year), who pulls fancy stunts like this (just kidding, Mom!)

Souvenirs?

One thing I’ve always had mixed feelings about is purchasing souvenirs from the different places that I go. Sure, its great to have a token or something to remember your trip by, but do I really want the same tacky tourist stuff that everyone else has? Probably not, especially considering that I’m most likely going to throw it away in a few months anyway.

Since I got my SLR camera, I’ve found that pictures are a great souvenir and one of the best ways to remember your trip. In Cuba, however, I found a new great form of souvenirs in art. On our las day, we stumbled upon this awesome warehouse that was full of painters selling their wares (another one of the great paradoxes in communist Cuba).  I had already purchased a small watercolor about the passage of time from a vendor in Habana Vieja earlier in the week, but Sali and I stumbled across the most beautiful paintings ever from the same artist that we just HAD to have. They were both beautiful, abstract pieces that are extremely high quality. I painfully dolled out the rest of my CUC’s for my painting, but every time I see it hanging in my house, I’m thrilled I bought it.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of it, but I do have this picture of Sali’s painting being carried through a random square by the painter on the first day we were there (thats a whole other crazy story for another time). 

 

Not only is original art an awesome thing to bring home with you, but its almost guaranteed that you won’t throw it away. Your purchase also pumps money directly into the local economy, especially if you purchase directly from the artist. This is really great in countries, like Cuba, that are much poorer than the U.S. And, they cut it off the frame for you and roll it in a tube for easy transport home! Now I have a kick-ass painting to hang in my house for ever and ever!

Everything Art

Cuba is full of contradictions to what I thought it should be, theoretically and one of the places I felt epitomized that was José Fuster’s house outside Havana. José Fuster is a Cuban artist who has turned his entire house into a piece mosaic artwork, and he is slowly working on transforming his entire neighborhood. His work is beautiful, intricate and vibrant and he clearly has a passion for what he does (no one would cover there house in millions of tiny glass tiles if they didn’t love to).

For me, however, Fuster’s house represents everything that socialist/communist Cuba is theoretically against: individualism, creativity and selling your own work for a profit. It was hard for me to wrap my head around that the government allowed him to sell his work, and it still doesn’t quite make sense. Instead of trying to figure out something I couldn’t, however I decided to focus on the art, and try to take in all the colors and designs he had on the floor, ceiling, dining tables, stairs, and even on the bottom of the pool.

Here are some of the photos I took while there. They don’t really do it justice, but maybe you can kind of get the picture

More Bars in More Places?

One thing I cherish when I go on trips to faraway places is the lack of communication I get to have with the outside world. I love being without a cellphone, internet or any other kind of electronic distraction. This was one thing I loved about Cuba, that none of us had any of those distractions. It brought me back to the month I spent in Costa Rica after my sophomore year, which was potentially the happiest and simplest month of my life.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not completely against cell phones and the internet. Skype is a great thing, especially when you’re abroad or faraway for a longer period of time than ten days or a month. But, I do think that there is great value in being disconnected. I have grown to despise groups of friends that simply play on their phones while they’re hanging out. Not being able to have phones in Cuba meant that everyone in our group was able to enjoy their experience so much more because there were no distractions. I felt as though I was able to give my peers my undivided attention and vice versa during dinner conversations. I felt as though I experienced the sounds, colors, and smells of Havana and Cienfuegos to the fullest because I was able to fully focus on them, and nothing else.

I feel that cell phones, in particularly smart phones, have ironically made people more disconnected from the world around them. People now pay so much attention to their phone, accessing Facebook, Twitter and email, playing Words With Friends and Angry Birds and just browsing the internet, that they are unable to pay attention to their surrounding environment. In my opinion, it is the great tragedy of technology, but I am glad that on occasion, I am able to completely unplug myself and soak in every last detail of whatever place I happen to find myself.