Nerves for my trip

Nerves for my trip

In February 2013, I board the plane for a three-week solo tour of Cuba. I am more nervous than usual. Since the fatal journey in 2010 with the Trans Siberia Express (by train from Moscow to Beijing) I have not made long journeys alone.

The flight

I watch a movie and talk to my neighbor on the plane. The conversation makes me even more nervous, because she is going to stay in a resort and does not dare to travel alone in Cuba. Just what I’m going to do! I used to have no problem with it, but the one trip that went wrong still plays through my mind. I sleep a bit and think I have already bought all guesthouses and buses so the route is fixed so it can’t be that difficult.

Cuba

We land in the middle of the night, my transfer to Havana is ready. After an hour’s drive I arrive at a super nice hotel in one of the old historical building. I check in and get ready to go to sleep. I shift the time to local time and fall asleep.

Havana

The next day I wake up early and have an extensive breakfast. I get into conversation with a Dutch couple who have just traveled through Cuba for three weeks by car. I get some tips and check my clock. It’s time to meet my local agent to receive my hotel and transfer vouchers.

Something goes wrong

I take a seat downstairs in the salon. A little later, a woman approaches me, the agent. She says I’m late. I made a mistake in the clock setting and now she has to go to another appointment first. Oh well something is already going wrong! Breathe in and out!

It will be fine

I can go with her to the other two hotels she has to go to and while she is talking to them I can explore the area and afterwards she will give me my vouchers and explain some little things to me. Great deal, I come along and explore a part of Havana where I probably wouldn’t have been otherwise. At the end of the afternoon I am dropped off at my hotel with my vouchers and some tips by the agent. The next day I explore Havana a bit more. And then the adventure really starts, because then I will take the bus through Cuba to the other end of the island.

The rest of the trip

The transfers are going well and the guesthouses are cool and I get in touch with locals everywhere. My confidence is growing again. When on the bus from Santiago to Baracoa a tire blows on the way, we all have to get off. I get into conversation with 2 Italian sisters who have just started their journey. I meet with them to have a cocktail after dinner. It results in 3 dinners and a friendship with one of the sisters.

Baracoa

We are not only talking about Cuba, but also about life. We review that we have few vacation days to see everything we want to see in the world. This is the place that is starting a change for me and one of the sisters, because at the end of 2013 we both quit our jobs and went on a journey.  We have a correspondence blog for 6 months together, parts of which can still be read on my website, she from South America and I from Oceania. We did not know all this at the time in Baracoa during the dinners and cocktails.

New adventure with confidence

Back on the plane, I was able to look back with satisfaction on a beautiful journey. My fatal trip in 2010 where I ended up in a local hospital in Mongolia and psychosis was diagnosed no longer arouses fear of traveling. There is even talk of my travel addiction again. On November 18, 2013 I left for Australia as a digital nomad, with new adventures in mind.

I wrote this blog for the assignment, describe a fiercely or special moment in your travels for the Instagram course Writing Travel Stories. It is a series of three assignments. The 2 other assignments can be read here: Assignment 1 who inspire you with travel stories and assignment 2 describe your environment.

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Life in a small village

On every trip I take, I make sure a small village that isn’t touristic yet is included. On Cuba it was Baracola, in Yucatan, Mexico it was Rio Largatos, etc. I can name a few more, but you get the picture.

The beauty of these villages is that they are still unspoilt and quiet. And the touristic prices haven’t hit yet. You can do things for a reasonable price. Also you come more easily in contact with locals about their daily life. Nature is also still unspoilt which means lot of animals very near and not afraid of you.

Also it means not much choice in hotels, hostels and restaurants. These are mostly filled with locals or empty. And restaurants still cook local food. It also means waiting for things, because it’s not touristic the time is local time tranquilo, tranquilo!

I love it and you should try it somewhere in the world!

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Living your dreams!

Lucky me

Some people are meant to be in your life. You share a passion for something with them. They make you think about things, wonder about things, laugh and take up challenges in your life. I am lucky to have a few of these people in my life. One of them is Claudia, we met in January 2013 on our travels in Cuba. We discovered we share a passion for travel and are both introverts. After Cuba we kept in touch inspiring each other with our travels on opposite side of the world.

Europe

Once back in Europe the opportunity came to meet again. Claudia doing a travel design course in Rome, Italy. Me a digital nomad who can work from everywhere saw an opportunity to see Rome through the eyes of an Italian Islander. So we settled on a date and of I went to Rome. We had a wonderful time me exploring the city by myself when Claudia had classes and in the afternoon with Claudia as a private guide ;-)! How cool is that?

Taking up your dream!

Of course we talked about travels and the travel design course Claudia was doing. But the nice thing is that after the course she is going to Latin America to be a tour leader! I am happy for her, but a bit jealous that she is going to skip another European winter to travel. She is going even further with her dream in the future she is going to be a travel consultant! She has a successful blog about Latin America and Sardinia. Talking to her about her plans and being in Rome, got me inspired and started dreaming again of my life as a digital nomad and making new travel plans. For now I will settle for following Claudia’s adventures on her blog and digitally, but not for long. Because we will meet again in Latin America , Sardinia, Netherlands, Curaçao or any other part of the world.

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Interview (14) Let me introduce you to Guiselaine

This interview was published on Women who are travelling!

Interview (14) – let me introduce you to Guiselaine

Name: Guiselaine Capella

Nationality: Dutch

Occupation: Travelling data analysis entrepreneur

Guiselaine

Me and my laptop will be my base for a while. I am intended to go wander the world fulltime as of half November, because traveling for just a few weeks a year wasn’t enough for me anymore. I am an introvert who likes to explore the world thru books, traveling and daring myself into doing things on my bucket list.

I was borne on Curaçao, a small Island in the Caribbean. The weather and architecture on Curaçao are very beautiful. At 19 I went off to the Netherlands to study. It was my base till recently. But now I am intended to become a world citizen, not bound by country boundaries. I am a digital nomad who will work from everywhere in the world on her laptop to sustain my travel life.

What was your inspiration or the event/idea that made you want to travel? 

I just grew up dreaming about seeing the world and wanting to travel as much as possible. I always started planning my next trip on the way back from a trip.

What was your first travel experience?

My first travel experience was when I was a baby, but I can’t remember that just have the pictures to prove how small I was on my first trip. I love the feeling of sitting in the plane and watching the world pass by below you and dreaming of visiting those places one day while you’re on your way to another destination.

Kangaroo Island

Have you ever felt lonely travelling solo?

I never felt lonely on a solo trip, because when you travel alone people tend to talk to you more often. But I have felt lonely on a group trip. I think loneliness depends on yourself and the company you are in.

Do you have any fun stories of things that happened to you that you realized even at the time, “This never would have happened if I had been traveling with someone else?”

I think the funniest thing that happened to me was being proposed to in the jungle of Ecuador by one of the jungle guides. I was staying there for a few days and decided to participate in a workshop making wooden rings. But I sucked at it even though I was the only one there who understood what they were explaining in Spanish. So at some point I just gave up making a ring and went to bed. The next day I was getting to the bus to leave when one of the guides approached me and started talking to me and then gave me the ring and said he wanted to marry me. I think he never saw a more clumsy women or was happy that there was someone who could speak Spanish. I still have the wooden ring.

Barcelona market

What was your best travel experience?

Sorry have to go with Ecuador again. I fell in love with the mountains over there. So I went on a half day horseback riding trip through the mountains without prior horse experience. The first half hour I was for sure I was gone fall off the horse, but as the scenery grew more and more intense. I relaxed and was in heaven on the horse going thru the mountains with the spectacular views of valleys and small cities.

Is there anything you would have done differently/ any regrets, if you could do it over again? The only thing I regret is not traveling more. I guess I am gone make up for that now.

What was your worst travel experience?

My worst travel experience is definitely becoming psychotic on a trip with the trans Siberia Express and through Mongolia. Being hospitalized there is an experience I am never gone forget in my entire life and hope to never experience again.

What’s the strangest situation you have found yourself in?

Two stories qualify for this question the double date in Petra, Jordan and not being able to open my suitcase lock anymore in Barcelona. I will narrate the last one. I was on a city trip with a friend and on the last day we decided to put all documents in one suitcase and go explore the city one last time as we were flying late at night. But to our horror, when we came back we couldn’t open the suitcase anymore. So we decided to go with the suitcase to the airport and ask there if they would open it for us. But nobody wanted to do that. So we went to the police office at the airport. I remember the police looking at us not believing our story and after that they were making jokes about shooting the suitcase etc. At that moment nothing was funny to me. After a while they decided to open it for us and let us get everything we needed on the flight out and close it. Back at home after the flight it took me hours picking locks and ultimately just smashing the suitcase to open it.

Guiselaine

Where will you never return to?

I haven’t been to a place jet I would go at all anymore, but Camaguay in Cuba would be on my not soon to visit again list. I loved Cuba but that city I didn’t like the atmosphere at all. It didn’t feel like the rest of Cuba to me.

What advice would you give women traveling solo to your home country?

I don’t know if there are country specific advice, but what you definitely should do is trust your instinct when you travel and be careful when your instincts tell you to be.

What are your future travel plans?

I am gone be traveling full time with no and data as a digital nomad. Working everywhere and nowhere. Experiencing the world. I am starting in Australia and slowly make my way to Asia. And after Asia I hope to travel further around the world to the next continent.

What are your top three tips for women traveling solo?

Be aware of local way of doing things.

If you don’t feel comfortable somewhere or with someone just leave the scenery.

If you want to chat with locals go sit on a square and you will end up having the most beautiful chat of your lifetime about conversation even though you sometimes don’t speak the same language.

Guiselaine

What would you tell women who are looking to travel alone but worry about their safety?

Be caution, but just relax and enjoy yourself. As long as you follow your instinct you will be ok.

Couchsurfing..what do you think about that?

I am starting to experience it now. Don’t think it fits my character well, because I like to have lots of alone time.

How do you pay for a life of travel?

I used to work a lot and save to travel. But now I am just gone travel and earn money on my way or swap my way through the world.

Tell us about the best food you have ever eaten on your travels?

I am a fresh fruit juice addict so in every country I want to taste all kinds of different fresh juices. I loved the way they make lemon juice in Jordan with a little bit of mint.

Jordanie

What is the most breathtaking view you have ever witnessed on your travels

I think the sunrise in Jordan dessert on the back of a camel definitely qualifies as one of the best. Although sunset at the beach is also one of my favorites.

What item will you always carry in your backpack?

My camera, something to write my thoughts on and my passport. I am totally obsessed about where my passport is all the time.

Who was the kindest or most generous person you met on your travels, and what did they do?

I think I have to go with Marc in Cuba for putting up with me climbing El Yunque. And afterwards for lending me his flip-flops, because mine broke and walking himself bare feed.

What have you learned from travelling?

Traveling open possibilities for me. I get inspiration from traveling and seeing and meeting on the road. That’s how I get inspired and refreshed to work and built my life.

Who inspires you? What other travellers do you look up to?

I get inspired by photos I love to see pictures of far away places and hear stories about what people experienced on the travel. That’s the reason I think I am addicted to travel blogs.

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The ButterflyEffect

My life has been a rollercoaster for a while after I had a psychotic episode in 2010 during a vacation. It wasn’t all bad what happened. It helped me realize that I shouldn’t be dreaming only of doing something in the future. But that the future is now.

I started making small changes in my life. The first thing I looked at were how can I live the life I want without being concerned about what others think and how are the relationships in my life? This was the hardest part and took a lot of time and therapy to change into what I wanted, but it was worthwhile.

The second change in my life was that I finally had the courage to start my own business. Thru doing this a whole new world opened up for me. The world of entrepreneurs mostly people following their dream and working with passion on something.

The last thing I did that was part of the ButterflyEffect leading to my choice to travel the world as an entrepreneur, was to go to Cuba alone at the start of 2013. This was my first long trip alone again after falling ill in 2010.  It turned out to be one of the best presents I could have given myself. I got inspired by the country, the locals and two travelers I met there Marc and Claudia. I loved the way they looked at the world. Back home I decided to do something with the inspiration but in a manner that suits me and not just copying them.

The rest is history and now I am in Singapore combining working and exploring my surroundings. I must say the first glance at this lifestyle feels good.

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About us

Apparently different but in many ways similar, that’s how we are.

Claudia

An Italian – Claudia, 38 years old, human rights lawyer.

Guiselaine

A Dutch – Guiselaine, 36 years old, data analyst

Who have met when away from home, during an adventurous and very eventful holiday in Cuba, and became instant friends and an inspiration to one another. Little by little, we got to know each other and we found that we have many things in common. We both are “social introverts,” being at the same time very sociable, outgoing and talkative, but needing alone time to recharge our batteries. We both crave to see the world outside our homes, and are at odds with the majority society requirements. And we both decided that it is time to live our dream rather than keep dreaming.

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How can one inspire others?

A Guest blog by Claudia Tavani

I guess the short answer to my question is “just being your cool self.” And that is how Guiselaine inspired me.

Guiselaine and I met on a bus from Santiago to Baracoa, in Cuba, on 8 February 2013, and have been friends since. Guiselaine was sitting at the bus station by herself, and by her look she could easily pass for a Latin American. We did not talk then. However, that was a crazy bus ride, very eventful, like almost any would be in Cuba I suppose, and it led to a great friendship. I remember I was snoozing quietly on that packed Viazul bus, sitting next to my sister, when I realised we hit something. I remember saying: “I really hope we did not hit a dog or a pig” – in Cuba it is a common custom to let dogs and pigs and chickens roam free. Well, the good news was we did not hit anything. As the bus stopped to check what had happened, we all had to get off the bus and soon discovered a tire had literally exploded. Luck had it that the tire exploded right there and not 20 km further, where La Farola – a curvy up and down hill 64 km road that is the only connection between Santiago and Baracoa – would start. As you can imagine, coming from Europe this was a rather interesting experience, so we took the chance to take pictures of the driver changing the tire, of the surroundings, and to have a quick chat with other passengers. That’s when we really acknowledged each other.

At the next pit-stop, we had a chance to exchange a few words. Guiselaine had such a reassuring smile and relaxed attitude that my sister and I instantly liked her. I guess that was the moment when we decided that we would hang out together in Baracoa – there wasn’t much questioning about it. We just said “let’s have drinks and eat together tonight” and it was fixed. A couple of hours later, we were having mojitos and shrimps in coconut sauce and exchanging our anedoctes about our experience in Cuba so far. That turned into 3 dinner dates – almost without questioning whether we’d hang out together.

While chatting, we all agreed we were greedy to see the world, and kept wondering how we could turn this into a long-term project that would allow us to travel full time and thus live our dream, rather than just enjoy a 3-weeks vacation each year.

Once back from Cuba, I realised I was itchy to travel more. Then Guiselaine told me that she would quit her job to start living her dream, and started gathering information on how to travel full time, on a low income, and make some cash on the way. All the while, knowing this was also my dream, she passed all the info to me. I guess to me, the hard part was how to convince myself (and then my family) that travelling is not an insane project, but a must-do. It was more a question of accepting that nomad side of me, and Guiselaine inspired me to just be who I am, disregarding what society expects from me, as long as I respect the law and others.

So, here I am: 3 weeks to go till my dream becomes true; lots of thoughts, a bit scared yet excited, sometimes worried but nevertheless convinced I have to do this. I will never stop thanking Guiselaine for helping that side of me come out, with her discrete manner and politeness. I know that along the way we will keep exchanging ideas and advice – well, I guess she is better at researching than I am, so I will rely on her a lot.

What did it take her to inspire me? Just… being who she is! My hope is that through all of our travelling we get to meet again one day, but surely we will never lose touch, as I will be following her adventures on her blog.

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