Of all the travel rewards, meeting local people and sharing a mutual understanding of our daily struggles and triumphs as humans are amongst the greatest lessons we obtain from stepping outside our comfort zones. Often times, we encounter a local child, an elder who catches our gaze- an exchange of a warm smile, a lasting connection. We learn quite quickly, a smile is universal. And in the most significant moments of our journeys, travelers reveal a close encounter solidifying their newfound love of a particular country and its citizens.
After a recent trip photography trip to Cuba in October, one of our travelers, Lynne Buchanan revealed some of her experience,
The major reason this day was so memorable was the immediate and profound soul connection I experienced with Thomas Kaokao. Thomas is a retired farmer and plays the gourd. While he was accompanying the dancers, he and I connected with our hearts to the point that it brought tears to our eyes. We made hand gestures and I knew without a doubt that the eyes are the windows to the soul. Nothing quite like this has ever happened to me with this level of intensity before. He was so open and the love that he radiated was so pure and boundless. After the performance was over, I went to our guide and asked her to tell him that he has a beautiful soul. He was telling her the same thing about me at exactly the same moment. As our guide, Letitia, another amazingly beautiful human being, translated our words to each other, she kept saying how moving and emotional our encounter was. Meeting Thomas changed my life in an instant.
You can read Lynne’s complete post, The Taino, Kiribi, and the Toa River here.
They followed me for blocks and we were trying to communicate, but I don’t speak Spanish and they didn’t speak English. We made lots of gestures and laughed and giggled and then it rained and they pulled out this towel and I asked if I could take a photo and that one little girl put her hand over her mouth in the cutest gesture.
Every one of Cross Cultural Journeys trips, whether visiting an artist co-op in Cuba, basket weavers in Bali, a tea room in Ethiopia or musicians in Iran, focus on people to people interactions with the hopes a deep, profound connection will take root.
Travelers of the world will understand how a small meeting with those geographically distant but in reality, quite similar in heart can create a memory of a lifetime.
All photos © of Lynne Buchanan