Havana is a hodgepodge of race, culture, food, and architecture. Of the many places I’ve been, this Caribbean island struck me as the most ethnically diverse. Spanish and French-inspired squares contrasted by Afro-Cuban dances and rituals highlight the country's various influences from nearly every continent. Despite its complex history clouded by dictatorships, corruption and unrest, the Cuban spirit persists.
Vibrantly colored vintage cars and colonial buildings transport visitors back to the 1950's. Music can be heard on every street corner and spontaneous dance-offs are a common occurrence. We witnessed an African rumba in the famously crowded alley of Callejon de Hamel and attended a dinner concert where old members of the Buena Vista Social Club boogied the night away.
Portugal is a photographer's dream. Lisbon is one of the most unique, enticing, beautiful and culturally rich cities I've ever encountered. The colors and patterns etched into the walls paint a picture of a deep and twisted history wrought with invasions and wars, and yet a great sense of patriotism prevails. The crystal-clear water peeking out between each tiny, winding alleyway, trinkets adorning every wall and street art marked with irony and zeitgeist are all an added bonus.
Whether my love for the sea stems from growing up on an island or visiting the Outer Banks every summer of my life, it was certainly solidified when I arrived at the University of Miami. After being certified in the Floridian keys, I truly came to love the sport in Thailand. The silence that exists underwater in unlike any on land; the inability to speak leaves you alone with your own thoughts. Koh Tao, specifically, provides awesome reefs and cheap day trips. I then took my certification one step further in Indonesia where I became deep-water certified.
"They tried to bury us but they didn't know we were seeds."
Coming away from this monumental day in history, I still had qualms over whether or not to write an opinionated political post. But in hindsight, it is more clear than ever why this fight for social justice can and should appeal to everyone. Regardless of race, class, gender or sexuality, we should all believe in equality. Never before have I been a part of such a peaceful crowd of such high numbers all rallying together for social justice (a whopping 600,000 people marched on Washington alone).
It wasn’t until after the march that I was acutely aware of why I marched. I marched for human rights. I marched because I believe in a future for our planet and because I want to raise children on this Earth. I marched because I believe in unity through diversity. Love, warmth and acceptance were palpable in the air on this historic day.