Just step outside - best travel advice
One of the best pieces of travel advice I ever had; just step outside and sit/stand in the same spot for 15 minutes or so. See what happens. Seamus had been travelling alone before - he knew.
I was in a bar in Havana. It was all so incredibly overwhelming and I just wanted to hide. I was feeling a little disappointed with my experience so far. I felt lost. Just step outside for 15 minutes, Seamus said.
So, a bit tipsy I stepped outside into the street with my camera and stood, leaning against the wall. A bird flapped its wings above me in a bird cage. I'd never noticed it before.
A few minutes passed and I looked down to my left, where a little girl was suddenly standing, looking up at me.
When I looked at her, she looked away quickly. "Hola" I said, "come te llamas?" (what is your name?) I told her my name was Ola. She looked at me as if I was a stupid tourist but I reassured her "si, si, mi llamo Ola...Hola Ola" (Hello Ola) I gestured waving to myself.
She chuckled and then all of a sudden 3 other children surrounded me. The smallest one, Michael, jabbed at my camera lens with his finger. The older girl slapped him round the head. I had fun with these kids and took their picture.
I grabbed their address from a local woman who approached us wondering what all the fuss was about. I promised I'd try and get the pictures developed and sent to them. I went back to the bar where Seamus was sitting. Well, how was it? he asked. Pretty awesome, I said.
In Trinidad I did the same. I sat on the steps by the famous Plaza Mayor and an old man selling bags sat down next to me. We were both a bit tired and taking shelter in the shade of the huge colonial building behind us.
He started talking to me - I really didn't want to buy his bags and told him politely that I couldn't speak Spanish very well and continued to watch children fly their kites in the square.
Feeling that I may have come across a little rude (I was grumpy from the heat), I nudged the old man gently and commented on a man with a huge beard who walked past us. He chuckled and pointed to a fairly overweight lady walking up the steps. A few German tourists stopped and enquired after his bags. He managed to sell a few and turned to me, beaming, holding up the coins he'd just earned. He slipped them into his pocket, chuffed!
We made conversation and Seamus bought us all a beer. So there we were, talking with this chap about nothing in particular, in broken Spanish, drinking beer, people watching, laughing.
He offered me a mango in return for the beer and invited us for dinner, but I explained that that evening we had been invited to attend a Cuban wedding.
And so, the adventures continued...