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Where are you going next?

 Africa86 votes
76.11%
 South America3 votes
2.65%
 Europe3 votes
2.65%
 Eastern Asia5 votes
4.42%
 Carribean9 votes
7.96%
 Safeway5 votes
4.42%
 Australia2 votes
1.77%
total votes: 113
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WheresCherie.COM Quote
"Where lipstick is concerned, the important thing is not the color, but to accept God's final decision on where your lips end." -- Jerry Seinfeld

117--The Caribbean: The Road Less Maintained
@ CherieSpotting     Feb 14 2003 - 19:21 PST
cherie writes: Castles and Princesses

You never know what you are going stumble upon when you’re traveling. That’s why I’ve found the fewer expectations you have; the more opportunities seem to come your way. (There aren’t actually more opportunities. You’re just able to see them clearer because you don’t view them as obstacles to your pre-determined schedule.)

Greg, Kristi and I visited a tiny little town called Holguin that’s biggest attraction was an organ factory. Truthfully, I don’t care about organs. I haven’t the slightest interest in them. But, why not take this opportunity to learn about them? There are two philosophies of thought when exploring another country. You can choose to be a tourist or a traveler.

What’s the difference?

A tourist is someone who makes a reservation at a nice hotel, eats all their meals at nice restaurants and has a really nice time on their vacation away from home (which the tourist considers successful the more the vacation resembles home.) Tourists are often caught saying things like: “It’s not like this in the United States,” “This isn’t what I ordered,” and “Do you speak English?”

A traveler is someone who wants to explore a different country; not escape from their own. A traveler learns to speak (at least a little) of the foreign language. A traveler leaves her own CDs and best-sellers at home and cultivates an appreciation for the exotic music and foreign literature. A traveler talks to the natives. A traveler listens to how life used to be from the old, and how it is going to be from the young. (A tourist talks to the locals too, only they just ask for directions to McDonalds.) A tourist takes the fastest route; a traveler takes the road less maintained.

To really know a country, you must eat the food, talk with the people, dance to the music, and read the local literature (not just visit all the museums.)

Since we found ourselves in a tiny town that’s biggest claim to fame was an organ factory, we spent a day visiting the factory. It was one of the highlights of our trip. The organ makers were more like artists than workers. We watched them hand making guitars, cellos and incredibly delicate organs. They were so excited to meet us and show off their musical talents (both making and playing the instruments.)

The organ workers wanted to play their recently finished organ for us. An old man fed sheets of dimpled paper though the organ and the room came to life. Soon a cacophony of harmonies flooded the factory and Greg and I started dancing. Then an organ maker asked Kristi to join him for a little salsa. Then other shop-keepers came over to see what all the commotion was about. The old warehouse was suddenly transformed into a dancehall filled with raucous music and boisterous laughter.

We danced until our sides ached and our lungs begged for a proper breath. The town’s people gathered in a semi circle and clapped and stomped, celebrating with us. What were we celebrating? Just life.

When we could dance no more, a boy named Bobby, who led us the organ factory, asked us: “Now do you want to see the beer drinking Buro?” Of course he asked this question in Spanish, so I thought I might have misunderstood.

Did he say beer-drinking donkey? (I’ve made it my policy that when someone asks me if I want to see a beer-drinking donkey, I say “yes.”) So “Bobby” led us to a poolside bar where there was indeed a donkey and we indeed fed him a beer. Who can guess what crazy entertainment will land in our laps tomorrow?

When we explore a city we try to enjoy the little stuff as much as the big. For example, we stopped at the local beauty parlor, the local rum factory, the local art gallery and the local castle. In Santiago, we watched young girls dressed like princesses celebrate their 15th birthdays (the year when they become a woman.) Princesses, castles, organ makers and beer-drinking donkeys-- the voyage is always best appreciated when it is a surprise.

Click on each picture to see it full size.

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You never know when you might stumble into an old woman smoking a cigar who tells you the very advice you need to hear.

You never know when you might stumble into an old woman smoking a cigar who tells you the very advice you need to hear.

The clay people and clay pots of Camaguey.

The clay people and clay pots of Camaguey.

Kristi helps the clay man push his pots.

Kristi helps the clay man push his pots.

No matter what your nationality...all women speak "gossip."

No matter what your nationality...all women speak "gossip."

Cherie and Greg kissing in the square.

Cherie and Greg kissing in the square.

Greg steals a peek.

Greg steals a peek.

Cherie doesn't like it when she doesn't get enough attention.

Cherie doesn't like it when she doesn't get enough attention.

Cute dog.

Cute dog.

He makes her feel just like he did when she was a little girl.

He makes her feel just like he did when she was a little girl.

Children marching down the street in their school uniforms.

Children marching down the street in their school uniforms.

Young artist.

Young artist.

Cherie (AKA "Rocky") makes it up all the steps.

Cherie (AKA "Rocky") makes it up all the steps.

Greg sips out of a dainty cup.

Greg sips out of a dainty cup.

These men handmake organs they sell all over the world for about $15,000 each.

These men handmake organs they sell all over the world for about $15,000 each.

Some of the organ makers.

Some of the organ makers.

Guitars being made.

Guitars being made.

Cherie and Greg dance to the organ music.

Cherie and Greg dance to the organ music.

Kristi "gets down" and the organ makers go wild!

Kristi "gets down" and the organ makers go wild!

The organ-makers keep churning out the music and we dance the day away.

The organ-makers keep churning out the music and we dance the day away.

The cello-repair shop?

The cello-repair shop?

Where guitars go to die.

Where guitars go to die.

Workers making guitars.

Workers making guitars.

This guy has spent his whole life making beautiful music.

This guy has spent his whole life making beautiful music.

The guys at the organ factory walk outside to bid us farewell.

The guys at the organ factory walk outside to bid us farewell.

A pool-side kiss.

A pool-side kiss.

A donkey that drinks beer?  Now I've got to see that!

A donkey that drinks beer? Now I've got to see that!

Sure enough, Cherie contributes to the delinquency of a donkey.

Sure enough, Cherie contributes to the delinquency of a donkey.

The donkey just can't get enough.

The donkey just can't get enough.

I hope he's not getting drunk!

I hope he's not getting drunk!

Cherie and Kristi make friends with the famous "beer guzzling buro."

Cherie and Kristi make friends with the famous "beer guzzling buro."

Cherie and Greg, just a couple of country bumpkins.

Cherie and Greg, just a couple of country bumpkins.

Uncommonly beautiful wood-work is quite common.

Uncommonly beautiful wood-work is quite common.

Wooden flowers will forever be in bloom.

Wooden flowers will forever be in bloom.

Some guys bring home the bacon, this guy brings home the chicken.

Some guys bring home the bacon, this guy brings home the chicken.

The girl next door.

The girl next door.

His "cK" shirt stands for: "Completely Klueless."

His "cK" shirt stands for: "Completely Klueless."

Do they have room for one more?

Do they have room for one more?

A future cowboy.

A future cowboy.

Greg relaxing.

Greg relaxing.

You're never too old to dance.

You're never too old to dance.

Music keeps the soul alive.

Music keeps the soul alive.

Brain-transplants or new hair-dos?

Brain-transplants or new hair-dos?

The things women do in the name of beauty.

The things women do in the name of beauty.

You don't just see curlers in the beauty parlor.

You don't just see curlers in the beauty parlor.

That's a lot of rum!

That's a lot of rum!

Taking a nap.

Taking a nap.

Is this a sign cautioning you not to explode into another car?

Is this a sign cautioning you not to explode into another car?

Excuse me...is that a missle in your backyard?  (Yes.)

Excuse me...is that a missle in your backyard? (Yes.)

Kristi and Greg in front of Castillo Morro.

Kristi and Greg in front of Castillo Morro.

Greg's certain that he can lift this cannon.

Greg's certain that he can lift this cannon.

A beautiful view in Santiago.

A beautiful view in Santiago.

Parents treat their daughters like princesses on their 15th birthdays.

Parents treat their daughters like princesses on their 15th birthdays.

A room with a view.

A room with a view.

Cannons and castles.

Cannons and castles.

Twin sisters celebrating their birthdays together.

Twin sisters celebrating their birthdays together.

A the young age of 15, she celebrates becoming a woman.

A the young age of 15, she celebrates becoming a woman.

At the young age of 30(ish), Cherie and Kristi celebrate having youthful spirits.

At the young age of 30(ish), Cherie and Kristi celebrate having youthful spirits.