I Dare You

Danya Nadel ~  

Today is Sunday, January 17th, 2016. One in the afternoon.

The majority of the group has already left to the airport to fly back to New Jersey. I’m impatiently waiting for it to be my time to go.

In the first 17 days of the new year this group of students has experienced, seen, and done so many incredible things. From viewing paintings by famous artists to riding in beautiful seventy year old cars to eating genuine Cuban food and drinking genuine Cuban coffee to laying on sparkling white beaches to viewing three hundred year old tombstones to drinking daiquiris in the very bar where they came into existence.

A view of three hundred year old tombstones in Colon Cemetery in Havana, Cuba. 

The main thing I’ll be taking from this trip isn’t a huge amount of knowledge, though my mind has definitely soaked in tons of that. What I’ve taken from this trip, my third time traveling outside of the country, is that it shouldn’t be a privilege to get to travel and that every travel experience is to be truly appreciated – never taken for granted.

Panoramic shot of Old Havana from the top of Hotel Plaza. 

Throughout our time in Cuba and then Miami I was constantly taking in my surroundings, noting contrasts and similarities, breathing in the air to really feel my location in my chest. Every color, taste, smell, sound, and vibration gave way to an expansion of my view of the world we live in. As some tourists took cheesy photos, drank excessively, danced the night away, and lounged on beaches, I was feeling my surroundings and taking note.

One of the many plazas in Central Havana.

How does that color or smell or taste or sound make you feel? Does it give you energy? Does is make you upset? Does it make you want to act a certain way? Does it spawn an inquisitive version of you who hasn’t been around in the past?

When you travel, especially to a place where you cannot use a cellular phone, you’re exposed to a raw version of the world and yourself. You get to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. You get to see things you’ve never imagined. If you’re traveling correctly, you leave feeling as though there’s a filter making every sight and sound and experience more vibrant and full.

A breathtaking view of Havana. La Cabana de Che Guevara is captured on the right. 

Next time you travel, I have a dare for you.

I dare you to turn off your phone, pause your conversations, and leave your headphones behind.

I dare you to experience a new place as I just have.

I dare you to really broaden your horizons and experience your world.

Come on, I dare you.

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