• [Cotton & Travel]:
    Hello Lola & Clarisse ! I am so happy to meet you! You are the first backpackers to be introduced in this new section ! I often have questions from futures backpackers, often girls, who ask me how do I do to travel off the beaten track and how do I meet and share these experiences with locals or how do I travel alone… So this gave me the idea of writting about some other backpackers’s experiences to inspire my readers ! Because, yes, it’s possible to go by yourself without spending so much money in travel agencies ! Ok, sometimes you need luck… but you also have to bring about the luck and we can see that in your stories ! So, you did an amazing meeting with Cubans, didn’t you? Ok, but first, tell me more about you two, girls!
  • [Lola]:
    Hello Marie! I’m Lola, I’m 26 years old and we can say that I have the fidgets ! To travel, meet other cultures and immerse myself in new landscapes… This is when I can be the most in tune with myself. I am a nature teacher and also a biologist diver, so all my travels are about nature, diving, hiking but also I love all about gastronomy and heritage of the country. A good mix then! So, I met Clarisse during a summer camp where we were organizers. She is 24 years old and she is also a teacher and would like to teach sports abroad. Our friendship was like love at first sight! For me, she’s my soulmate“People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that’s what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life. A true soul mate is probably the most important person you’ll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake” [Quote from the book Eat, Pray, Love]. I really hope we will travel again soon together and having such an amazing person like her in my life is already a travel in itself!

 

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  • [Cotton & Travel]:
    Great! I can see that we share the same hobbies and the same way of travelling !
    So why Cuba, then?
  • [Lola & Clarisse]:
    Well, we did our first trip together 5 years ago in Portugal, and we told ourselves: “Why don’t we start this new tradition of travelling every 5 years…” Ok… But to go where, then? So, we simply send to each other the first 3 top destinations we wanted to do so badly, and Cuba was both our first one… We didn’t think twice and we booked the tickets !
  • [Cotton & Travel]:
    Awesome ! I love this idea of sending the first 3 top desinations to your friend to choose where to go! And so, how did you meet the Cubans, then?
  • [Lola]:
    So here we are…3 weeks in Cuba, 5 cities from West to East to immerse ourselves as much as we can! During our first stop, we had been quiet surprised to see how it was difficult to travel off the beaten track and to not go with all these organized touristic tours… So, for our second stop, we really hoped that it would be possible for us to live a more authentic experience.
    We arrived in Santiago de Cuba in a bar and stayed at the terrace: Music, mojito, blazing heat... A girl from the security guards began to dance and Clarisse told me: “Lola, I badly want to dance with her!” So, she went to dance and a waitress came and took my hand to go dancing with them!
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  • [Lola & Clarisse]:
    Actually, the two girls were sisters,Yari & Judith! And also, that night, it was carnival in Santiago! We had a meeting with Yari, two hours later to discover the carnival… in the Cuban style! You have to know that tourists and Cubans don’t mix during the parade.
    Yari brought us in some streets where we were the only tourists…! We laughed and danced so much… It was such a magical night! Later, Judith and her husband arrived and they helped us to move in a new ”casa” (a house) they knew, because ours, were without water and windows! And during carnival, rooms are so expensive and not easy to find… So they helped us crossing the city with our backpacks and the casa was so great!
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  • [Lola & Clarisse]:
    The day after, we visited with Judith and her husband the Basílica Santuario Nacional de Nuestra Señora de la Caridad del Cobre ! We were the only tourists going with locals!
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  • [Lola]:
    The evening, we were invited by Yari at her parent’s house. So, we went to the bar where she was working and we walked together at her home. But it was so far away… Actually, she was living in the slum, outside the city! On our way, she told us about her life, her studies as a dental assistant and her job at the bar to earn money to pay her studies, and also about her father who was a pastor. Her parents offered us drinks and meal. We had to make ourself to eat and drink because since a few days we had the”traveler’s diarrhea”… ^^! So non-drinking water and ham outside the fridge was quiet risky for us…Then, we went out the house to go upstairs and we discovered a church which was completely inside the house ! We attended Mass for two hours with songs and prayers recited by the pastor and the believers. We also had to make a speech in Spanish to introduce ourselves and thank the church to welcome us. It was my first time attending Mass… I come from an atheist family, so I had not been raised by any kind of belief or faith. But that night, I was really captivated by these people…
  • [Cotton & Travel]:
    I totally get it ! It reminds me when I lived one week with a Peruvian family from Chinchero, a really traditional village where faith, believes and religious traditions were so important for locals. I attended Mass one Sunday and I was the only tourist with all these people with beautiful traditional costumes. Later in the afternoon, we sat for 4 hours, women and men separated, to recite some religious texts and to pray. Once again, I was the only tourists with them but actually, a lot of tourists was around us taking pictures, so it was a really strange feeling, you know… And, as you, I have no religion so sometimes I couldn’t really understand everything they were asking me to do…. But it was such an amazing experience and the more beautiful memory of my travel ! Sometimes you need to leave the cocoon and all your comforting habits to live such unique moments! And, we finally do something we think impossible!
  • [Lola]:
    Then, we went back to the dining room and whe chatted for a while: who are we? What believes and faith do you have? At that time, I was waiting for a financing plan for my diver training. So, they prayed for me to help me getting it and to guide us in our travel to be safe. They offered us a gift… the Bible…So it is quiet a heavy gift but so valuable ! And, also dedicated! So, it touched us deeply ! Finally, the pastor stoped a taxi and everyone took us back home. Then, they went back home walking…
  • [Cotton & Travel]:
    It’s such an amazing story! I guess one of your best travel’s memory! So, would you like to give any advice to our backapackers who are reading this interview?
  • [Lola]:
    Yes, it was an amazing meeting… the visit of the basilica and the Mass in the roof of the Cuban slums… I guess we were lucky but we also brought it out when we dared dancing with them and when we trusted them for the house… If I had the chance to do it again, I would definitely rushed headlong. It’s definitely our best travel’s memory…
    You had to dare going to speak with locas, mix with them, this is the true essence of travelling… To discover a new country but also the culture and another way of life….So yes, you have to be careful sometimes, you never know… But you had to give you the opportunity to live these experiences with locals. These incredible people will always stay in our heart and these experiences enriched us! 🙂
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  • [Cotton & Travel]:
    Thanks a lot Lola and Clarisse to share you amazing experience ! And, you my dear readers, do you want now to live such an authentic experience and unique moments? 

* If you want to know more about Lola, you can find her blog here below:

http://www.globetronomique.wordpress.com

*And to follow Clarisse, check her Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/clarisse___gtl/

 

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