Building triathlon bridges


I sent an email to a friend of a friend, Michel Gonzalez, #Cuba‘s top triathlete, to coordinate some training sessions for my week in his country. To thank him for his kindness I asked, Is there anything I can bring you from the States? I asked with an understanding that the embargo, et al., drastically limits a cuban triathlete’s access to the specialized kind of gear that the rest of us take for granted. Michel requested gels. We really can’t find those here, he explained. And if any of your training partners have used gear, we’d happily put it to good use.
Michel travels the world competing, but he and his crew are working to develop the sport at home in Cuba. He knows what the rest of the #triathlon world, even athletes in other developing countries, have access to.
I reached out to a handful of #teammates and within a week filled a suitcase with new and barely used training and racing gear, most of it for females. (Thank you, ladies!)
To ring in the new year, I attended a local 10k without timing chips or numbers, but an old-school stopwatch and 75 eager runners. I met the coach for Cuba’s national female triathlon squad, had breakfast with him and a few of the athletes, and put the gear in his care to distribute where it is needed most.
Oh, and of course Michel was muy feliz with his diverse collection of energy gels.
La Habana, Cuba. January, 2017.

Of course there was a tobacco field 


This is just how #Cuba looked in my dreams. Tobacco cooperative. 

Valle de Viñales.

January, 2017.

¡Hola Cuba!


¡Hola Cuba! Conociendo tu interior desde las guaguas urbanas.

(Hey Cuba! Getting to know you from the inside – on your local buses!)

December, 2016

 

Retracing the decisions of a 22-year old me


In 2004, I decided to study Spanish with all my heart and all my savings, which, as it turned out, was only a few thousand dollars. So I looked for the cheapest airfare and homestay I could find in the Spanish speaking world, and boarded a plane for a five-month trip through #CentralAmerica. I spent the first 14 weeks in #Antigua, #Guatemala. This weekend, nearly 13 years later, I returned to that magical town and reunited with my rockstar Spanish instructor Judith. It’s safe to say the decision to board that plane altered the course of my life. And I’m so happy I could express in person (and in Spanish) my #gratitude to this amazing woman who played such a huge role in this story I call life.

Fernando’s hood

One of my favorite things about trekking in foreign lands is hiring a local guide to show me around his/her backyard. Fernando, the tiniest but mightiest member of our crew, comes from a family of guides. 


He grew up at the foot of the trail and has been summiting Acatenago (13,045 feet) several times a week since he learned to walk. While the rest of us labored our way to the crater for four hours, Fernandito played this volcano like a neighborhood stroll. Because for him, it was.

Reunited and it feels so…hard to breathe

Otro país, otro desafío, same besties! 

We reached the 13,045 foot summit of Volcan Acatenango. 




Perfecting the volcano

Flying into #GuatemalaCity I can’t help but imagine the creator as a sculptor seeking to perfect the rise and run of the volcano. 


December, 2016.

Original shot from Wikipedia.