Adventures in Cuba with Roly

Finally I have a post about my recent trek to Cuba to see Roly. Here are the highlights - I tried to post only a few photos but I got a bit carried away. My love affair with Havana has definitely deepened. Cubans are such friendly and warm people.

Of course I took typical cheesy tourist shots...

I took a few videos with my iPhone. This is a famous intersection in Havana - it separates Old Havana from Central Havana. To the right is the Hotel Inglaterra, to the left is Central Park. Behind is the Paseo del Prado.

We spent lots of time with family. This is Roly's step-mother, father, Roly and his brother Randy.

This is Roly's Mom.

Not only was I visiting Havana but so was the Pope. We didn't see his mass that took place in Revolution Square but man the city was filled with excitement and chaos. Power outages, police, newly painted buildings everywhere...

Roly is quite the renaissance man... He has is day job as an English tour guide then gives private tours and bakes cakes with this lady.

A couple of my FAV peeps in Havana - Pochulo and Yamilla.

Another visit with Roly's family.

Roly and I at one of the outdoor WIFI parks. It's getting easier and cheaper to be connected while in Cuba.

Roly's nephew Daniel - he was my cutie patootie ring bearer. Such a sweetheart!

The US Embassy along the Malecón.

We hit the Malecón for the WIFI, the view, the people... It's one of the big hot spots in Havana. Roly was being cheeky in this photo. Such a loveable guy! *swoon*

We hung out, took photos, videos and got into the whole scene along the Malecón.

And we stayed for the sunset. And there's where we had our first date, the National Hotel... Apparently I proposed that first night. Or that's what I've been told. Must have been the mojitos!

One day Roly had to work so I hit my FAV spots in Old Havana. I walked, trekked, adventured. I love cities that you can explore by foot!

Old Havana reminds me of Berlin with the street art.

I love all of the old signs... There's something very art deco about the colours, designs and fonts.

I was walking along the Paseo del Prado when I came across this gallery.

The artist is Yulier Rodriguez Perez. I hung out in his studio for a bit. It's his art on the entrance to the studio.

More kewl signs found along the Paseo del Prado.

And then I found some of Yulier's street art.

Looking back at El Capitolio from the Paseo del Prado. Havana is such a stunning city!

And then I hit the Malecón and walked towards Old Havana to explore all of the plazas.

I made a new friend fishing along the Malecón.

Tons of people fishing - this must be THE hot spot for fishing.

And then I met more peeps... I love how Cubans are so open and fun. I had so many people approach me, help me and just have great chats with.

Yup... This is another beautiful scene in Old Havana. You can just take so many photos of the buildings, the street art, the colours, designs, etc. Stunning!

And another street scene...

And this is where we stayed... So much better staying in a house versus a hotel.

Best drink I had while I was away... We had a date night with friends. They had beer while I had girlie drinks.

While out and about with my BFF Yamila I found these awesome tiles. Tiles are another design plus in the old buildings.

Lunch then more coffee... Cuban coffee is filled with caffeine and sugar. It keeps you pretty darn fueled up!

Oh Pochulo... One of my most favourite peeps. This guy... I speak minimal Spanish, he speaks minimal English yet we get each other. Laughs, giggles, hugs, fun and coffee... Lots and lots of coffee.

Out and about one night we came across free music on the steps of Havana University. We made it just in time to hear Descemer Bueno playing his hit Bailando. There were hundreds of young Cubans out for this free concert.

Here's a short clip of Cuban artist Descemer Bueno singing Bailando.

And another date night! LOVE date nights!! Roly gave a tour to a famous group from the US called Take 6. They gifted him with two tickets to their concert in Havana. The concert was sponsored by the US Embassy in conjunction with Leo Brouwer's office. It was AMAZING!

Here's a short video of their version of Pharrell Williams' Happy. The crowd was electric!

What a night! We got free tickets to the sold out event, had a pretty wonderful date and then got to meet with the band. I'm officially one of their groupies!

The next night there were tons of street parties throughout Havana. Neighbours got together to drink, prepare food and party on the street.

And then that was it. I was leaving Havana for a couple of days in Varadero then back to Canada. My heart is so connected to this awesome city - the people, the architecture, the sights, the music. Wow.

And then we hit the road and headed for Varadero. Chill time for this married couple... Time together is so special.

And there you find yourself traveling around and you bump into an old friend. It happens no matter where you are or where you go. Love that!

The day before I left this happened... Tropical storms are nutty! They come and then they go. It's like they never even happened.

Last meal before I got on the airplane... After this I was ready to go off the pop, cut down on the bread and cheese... And alcohol. It was one very indulgent time!

Sigh... I got the love. This guy is a gift. Such a joyful, tender hearted man. Yup - I am big time smitten. He's definitely that something wonderful that happened.

Since I've been back I've set up a Facebook page for Roly... He's the English tour guide at Camera Obscura in Plaza Vieja. He also gives private tours either through his own business or through the US Embassy. And then well - he bakes cakes.

I also designed and built a website for him. Find it at www.tourhavanawithroly.com. Going to Cuba? Havana? Definitely contact Roly.

And so I hope soon to visit Roly again and I also look forward to when Roly is here. No matter where we are, where we go... Love and adventure awaits us!


Upcycling Workshop at Bird on a Wire Creations

On Saturday I had the smallest Crafternoon ever. I gave an upcycling workshop at Bird on a Wire and we only had one registrant. My one happy crafter was Lee Ann and we had a blast! We crafted, made new friends with everyone who stopped to talk to us and we generally kicked craft butt.

Here we are drinking tea, eating cookies and making stuff out of 'junk'.

My very fabulous and happy crafty peep Lee Ann. She made a 'Ralph Lauren' wine cozy and an ornament. I also gifted her with my projects and some wine cork jewelry. She scored big time!

Hopefully next year I can partner up with Bird on a Wire for more Crafternoons... And get more people on board. Fingers crossed!

Big thanks to the lovely ladies of Bird on a Wire and to Lee Ann for an awesome afternoon!


Neighbourhood Small Grant Wrap Up Party

Last weekend was the wrap up party for the North Shore 2015 Neighbourhood Small Grant recipients. I've missed the last two parties so this was my year to cheer, share, make new friends and send some love to Vancouver Foundation and the NSG program.

My NSG grant covers the cost of supplies for 4 Crafternoons (aka upcycling workshops). Any event supported by the grant should be open to everyone and free. Such a FAB idea. That's why I'm unofficially the biggest cheerleader for Vancouver Foundation and the Neighbourhood Small Grant program.

I got some photos printed and created a board for the party. I was also one of three recipients asked to present to the 50-60 people at the party. Kewl!

There were lots of great projects like these bird houses...

There's always loads of BBQs, block parties and bouncy castles...

I wish I had attended this one... Neato workshop at Loutet Farm.

Getting set up - tons of people, food, fun, etc.

I got to catch up with Meseret from Vancouver Foundation and Trish from North Shore Neighbourhood House. These guys make the awesomeness happen!

Such a FAB time... Meeting new people, seeing all of the projects and cheering for Vancouver Foundation and their NSG program.

Here's to another spectacular year of crafting with 'crap' with my NSG grant and kick butt peeps at the North Vancouver City Library. You guys rock!

If you haven't been to one of my TBD/NSG Crafternoons - don't fret! There's one more left for 2015. December 5th, 1:30pm to 3:30pm, North Vancouver City Library - see you there!