Now begins the fun: the Caribbean! Pirate issues aside, I am almost as excited about the Caribbean as I am for Australia and New Zealand. I am particularly excited about the prospect of visiting Cuba since I have extended family there that I have never met. I'm trying to persuade my dad to take a trip to Miami with me so I can get my dual citizenship, just in case problems arise in the future while trying to get to Cuba. It might be my news-watching paranoia, but given the current international political climate, I feel it's possible. In any event, this leg of the trip is surely going to be unforgettable.
Picking up where we left off, my brother and I will probably spend a fair amount of time in Trinidad and Tobago. I have a couple friends who are from there who I'm going to attempt to persuade to make an impromptu visit when we're in town. I'm hoping we can time the visit to coincide with Carnaval! Part of this trip is to experience other cultures in all their fullness, and what better way to immerse ourselves than in a culture's song-dance-and-alcohol-filled celebrations?
Once we decide to move on, the next stops are a bunch of small island countries, each with their own unique histories and customs. First on that list is Grenada (below), which itself is made up of several smaller islands.
All I really know about this country is that it was once considered "property" of Spain during the colonization era, but that the Spanish were unable to actually colonize the place due to strong resistance from the natives. Currently it's also a major global exporter of various spices I like to use while cooking. Interesting.
After what I am sure will be numerous days discovering and learning the history of Grenada, we will set sail to a few other recognizable island nations on our way to Anguilla, including St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Barbados, St. Lucia, Martinique, and Dominica. I must admit I am not very knowledgeable in history, but I'm hoping this trip will expand my understanding of these really cool places.
As to Anguilla, I've heard great reviews about the cuisine of all things. The seafood there is supposed to be amazing, and I've heard more than once that Anguilla is the "culinary capital" of the Caribbean. I love food, so I may end up staying a little longer than I am now anticipating if these claims turn out to be true. . .
When it's time to set sail once again, we'll be traveling through the U.S. and British Virgin Islands and across the Caribbean Sea towards Venezuela, where will arrive in Aruba (below). Growing up I had several Venezuelan friends who would rave about Aruba every chance they got. Though getting there will involve a southerly detour, this is one place I cannot miss, especially if I am to believe their stories. From my research, the views are gorgeous, the sands white, and the parties epic (so I hear).
Plus, traveling to Aruba puts us closer to Colombia, which is a country with a special place in my heart. After Aruba, we are making a direct route to Cartagena, Colombia (below), which unfortunately I was not able to visit the last time I was in the country. Hopefully if my Colombian friends are reading this they will be able to make a trip to the coast and link up with my brother and I when we get there! The culture there and the people are unlike anything else I have experienced thus far. I'm not entirely sure why Colombia receives such a bad rep from the other South American countries; there is so much I love about it, I may find that moving on will be more difficult than from the other countries.
On that sad day when my brother and I leave Colombia we will likely cheer ourselves up by making visits to the Eastern shores of Panama, Costa Rica, Belize, and Mexico until we get to our ancestral homeland: Cuba.
As I said, my brother and I have some cousins that live in Cuba that we've never met. The thought of never having met someone I'm closely related to is a strange, but not new, feeling. I met my Cuban grandfather (mom's side) (below) for the first time a few years ago in Nicaragua, and it was such a great experience. I'm hoping that my brother and I can convince my mom, pop, grandma, and grandpa to fly out there and introduce us when we arrive.
Finally, we'll pass through many of the more touristy Caribbean islands on our way towards Key West and Miami, Florida, good 'ole USA. We'll likely stay in Miami for a while until either the time to sail across the Atlantic arrives or the cost of Miami living forces us northward up the East Coast.
The more research I do on these places, the more excited I get. Even as I write these words I am imagining what it would be like to walk the beaches, taste the food, and walk around seeing the sights. I've been very hesitant lately about my ability to leave my life behind to go on this trip since things at work are starting to pick up, and I am starting to establish "roots." There will come a day when I need to take the plunge and get on the boat, and that day is fast approaching. Thankfully writing these posts and working out the financial aspects of this trip behind the scenes is helping ease the anxiety. Till next time!