She Said, She Said – Mother and Daughter Reflect on Travelling Together in Cuba

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This post was so much fun to write! Not only did I get to better understand my mom’s thoughts about travelling, but this little exercise helped us bond more, even after coming back home. It was enlightening to see how another person thought so positively about me (and I hope my mom feels the same way after reading this) when I didn’t think so highly of myself. It just goes to show – we can all love ourselves a whole lot more and spread that love around! It’s also remarkable how two people can be doing the same thing at the same time and have completely different experiences. I think this is my mom’s first piece of published writing as well – another adventure she has tackled – so show her all the love you’ve got!


Mother-Daughter Trip to Cuba

Mom said…

Recently, I had the wonderful opportunity to travel to Cuba with my daughter, Jennifer. Not only is she well noted for her ability to write a fabulous travel blog, but was also an incredible travel partner. At 66 years old, this was the first time I had travelled out of North America. To do such a trip with my wonderful daughter was a gift on its own!

Daughter said…

I’m not sure I’m a well noted author yet, but it’s a wonderful feeling to have my mom think so highly of me. This trip was kind of a big deal for my mom and I’m not sure she was entirely certain what she was getting herself into! I acted as her personal travel assistant, trying to plan activities I thought she would enjoy as well as push her boundaries a bit. I may have done more boundary pushing than enjoyable activity planning though…


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On Dealing with Stress

Mom said…

Because Jennifer is so well versed in international travel, the stress of going through customs, immigration and security was kept to a minimum. More than once, I found myself giving her the “look” – like when I got angry at the automated immigration machine because no person over 60 should have to learn new technology – and she assisted with monumental patience!

Daughter said…

Yeah, I’ve travelled a bit, but I still get nervous going through customs. I am never organised at security and often end up losing something in the process. But I knew my mom was more nervous than me, especially since I was checking a bag full of insulin needles, so I put on a face of false confidence. In the process, I learned I don’t need to worry as much as I usually do. And we even made it through security without any hassle despite all the unusual items we were carrying for friends in Cuba:)


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On Overcoming the Language Barrier

Mom said…

As my Spanish began and ended with buenos dias and buenas noches, Jennifer’s comprehension of the Spanish language was a welcome asset. It would have been impossible for me to communicate with our new friends and navigate throughout the day without her acting as a translator.

Daughter said…

I’m pretty sure my mom’s Spanish actually began and ended with hola and gracias, though she did learn a few phrases along the way, so I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt here:) I studied Spanish on and off for a few years, but just barely make the cut into fluency. Even if you speak Spanish, the Cuban accent is a whole other, seemingly impossible, thing. It’s like the equivalent to Spanish as Scottish is to English. There were plenty of times when my response to someone talking to me was the good ole’ ignorant nod and smile. Considering almost nobody we talked to spoke English, my little bit of Spanish did go a long way. But I have to give props to my mom for trying to communicate on her own – sometimes using an entertaining variety of charades.


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I am concentrating my ass off trying to understand this guy’s Spanish!


On Food in Cuba

Mom said…

With Jennifer’s diet being somewhat limited having celiac disease, we were blessed to have our new friend, Indira arrive each morning that we stayed in Havana to prepare a wonderful breakfast for us. There was a wonderful selection that kept both Jennifer and I happy and satisfied. The food on the whole, whether gluten free or not, was not all that note worthy, but there were a few exceptions. Twice we visited the Hotel Nacional de Cuba for drinks on the Garden Veranda and dined at the open-air restaurant, La Barraca. We had a filling dinner of rice, beans (flavoured two ways) and fish. Jennifer got to see the peacocks and I got to feed the feral cat (while no one was looking!). In Trinidad, our housekeeper made a butternut squash soup so delicious it was well worth the one hour wait (even though they said it would only be 20 minutes)!

Daughter said…

If you are staying at a Casa Particular – which I recommend – you will be offered an optional breakfast for $5 – which I recommend. Even if you don’t have dietary restrictions, this service makes the start of your day so much easier. Not all hosts are created equal, but ours, Indira, was absolutely amazing (and we did become good friends as well)! She cooked enough food every morning that we had enough left over for a light dinner when we got back at the end of the day. She made sure there was plenty for me to eat too. This is not so easy in Cuba when you are a gluten-free vegetarian. In fact, I had to resort to eating fish – which was as overcooked as all the guidebooks said it would be.

Although the food is no reason to book a trip to Cuba, I can happily subsist on protein bars for a couple of weeks. Well, maybe not happily, but I don’t die. My mom, on the other hand, had slightly higher expectations than letting herself starve all day. The food may not have been to her tastes, but she never complained. Well, almost never. She definitely didn’t die.

Overall, the food at the casas was the best on offer. The Hotel Nacional also had some food with actual seasoning and they even knew how to cook a fish! While this meal wouldn’t be memorable at home, in Cuba it bordered on gourmet. Though it’s pricier than other establishments, the Hotel Nacional is a nice place to relax and take in the views of the garden and ocean. And the peacocks. Which, for some reason, was super exciting for me.


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On Going with the Flow

Mom said…

Patience, tolerance, love and a sense of humour! Thank-you Jen for practising all of the above whilst travelling with Mom. These attributes were tested by us on more than one occasion. The bus trip to Trinidad – that had a breakdown for hours – leaving all of us to not only throw “caution to the wind” but our bare behinds while relieving ourselves on the side of a busy highway! Because of this delay, we arrived very late in Trinidad and finding our accommodations was no small feat.

Daughter said…

It’s funny, because if you ask Laura (my wife), she would probably choose three very different words to describe my travel personality. It’s quite amazing how different aspects of our personalities come out in the company of different people. When I travel with Laura, I know she is plenty capable of handling all of the adulting, and I happily leave her to it while I cry in the streets. With my mom, I had to be the responsible one. I learned a lot about how far I can push my edge – and how much I can hide my anxiety. The bus trip to Trinidad tested my resolve, for sure. Let’s just say there were some scheduling mishaps that led to me paying to use a public restroom at the bus station so I could cry in private. But hey, it’s not patience if it’s easy!


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My mom has some serious dance skills!


On Problem Solving

Mom said…

Once we finally arrived in Trinidad, Jennifer was wonderful as she maneuvered her wheeled suitcase down a very cobbled street. I, in my ignorance, suggested we just take a cab to a hotel. Two things wrong with this: no cab and no hotels! I guess I was expecting a Holiday Inn around the cobblestone corner!

Daughter said…

Oh my god, I wanted to throw that suitcase in the river and never see it again! But there was no river. If you’ve never tried to wheel a suitcase down a heavily cobbled street while touts persistently harass you, you should try it. I guarantee you will make the switch to carrying a backpack. After a whole lot of confusion, and help from some super friendly locals, we finally made it to our casa. It was definitely not a Holiday Inn, but the service was amazing! I mean, they had their son carry my ridiculous suitcase on his head for the fifteen-minute walk to the house.


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On Reaching New Limits

Mom said…

I challenged myself on more than one occasion. Our trek through Topes de Collantes National Park was not only one of our highlights, but made me realize I was stronger than I thought. We hiked down the mountain and were rewarded many times by the beauty of the jungle. It was so worth it to reach the waterfall pool where there was time to rest, swim and soak in the surroundings. It was so beautiful that it has become my happy place I go to when I get stressed.

Daughter said…

I was so proud of my mom for doing this! It was not an easy hike for someone who has no experience. There were times on the slippery trail I thought she would give up and turn around, but she kept pushing. Sure, there was that time when she left ahead of the group and I ran up the mountain searching for her thinking she might have fallen in the river and died. When I finally caught up to her near the trailhead, I gave her a stern talking to on hiking safety! But I was also incredibly proud of her perseverance, bravery, strength and independence.


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In Summary

Mom said…

Jennifer and I experienced so many wonderful sites on our mother-daughter trip to Cuba – the people, art, mojitos, shopping… Thank-you for the once in a life time experience Jennifer.

Daughter said…

You’re welcome mom! And thank you for being such an adventurous travel partner- and for my new-found mojito addiction!


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Mother and Daughter Reflect on Travelling Together in Cuba


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28 Replies to “She Said, She Said – Mother and Daughter Reflect on Travelling Together in Cuba”

  1. Miranda Folland says: Reply

    What a fantastic experience you two had together! I loved reading both of your descriptions. They were so well written and had me experiencing your trip right along with you. Must have been fun! I’m so glad you guys had a chance to do this together.

    1. Thanks so much Miranda! It was a wonderful opportunity and experience:)

  2. I love this blog! It’s lovely to get both of your perspectives and you’re right about how you show different aspects of your personality depending on who you travel with!

    1. Right?! I knew I was capable, though I often defer responsibility to others, but I never realised how drastically different I could be.

  3. I really love this blog post! So nice to see both perspectives – and its so cool that you had been traveling together. Say hello to your mum, she must be a cool person!

    Have a nice day, and safe travels :*

    1. My mom is super cool! She has two tattoos and had her nose pierced at one point. But what really makes her cool is her willingness to step outside her comfort zone and try new things:)

  4. I’m sitting here with a happy heart reading this. You clearly have a lovely relationship, and I am sure that travel has broadened and expanded this with the new things you have learned about each other and yourselves. I get entirely what you mean about playing a different role depending on your travel companion. I always loved traveling with my mum, who had such a spirit of adventure that she ended up emigrating for work in her late 50s. Thanks for sharing your experiences; you’ve brought back some fabulous memories of time spent on the road with my mum.

    1. It makes me so happy to hear this. thank you for sharing:) Your mum sounds very adventurous indeed! Even in my younger years, I’ve struggled with moving overseas (never did do it). But I think we really do get wiser with age and realise how much life has to offer if we just go for it:)

  5. I loved this. I recently went on a big trip with my mom and learned so many new things about her and our relationship.
    This is a really fun way to learn about how different people experience travel.

    1. Yep, you definitely learn about your relationship when you travel with someone:) Fortunately, what my mom and I learned was that we are more compatible than we may have originally thought.

  6. I love this post! I have travelled with my mom to Bali and Thailand and I was nervous at first because I did not think she would be able to do the things I could very easily but they surprise you! It bought our relationship closer and I would do it over and over again.

    1. I felt the same way! I was so nervous taking her on that hike, but she was amazing and we had this incredible experience that brought us closer together. I would do it again as well:)

  7. I appreciate both perspectives being included as when we travel so much of it is about our personalities and how we adapt or not to knew things. Sounds like you both came away with a positive experience of traveling together, and learned new things about yourself and each other. Thanks of the recommendation of Casa Particular, sounds like breakfast there is the way to go!

    1. The casa pariculars make you feel like you’re staying with a family:)

  8. This sounds like an awesome trip and it sounds like your mum had a blast! I hope it’s not a once in a lifetime trip for her as she sounds like she loved every minute! I would love to do a similar trip with my mum one day!

  9. A mother-daughter trip is an ultimate travel experience. I also try to travel with my mum from time to time and it’s a very rewarding experience, Jen! Your post was a great read!

    1. I love that I’m hearing about so many other people travelling with their parents! It’s nice to know there is still a connection to family out there.

  10. I LOVE how you wrote this and that you gave both of your perspectives on each point. Your mom clearly is so incredibly proud of you! I think mother daughter trips are an incredible way to bond, and I am so happy you got a chance go experience this together. You both learned alot about yourselves which is the epitome of what travel should bring us, connection and growth.

    1. I’m the baby in the family, so I do get a lot of attention and love:) Now that I’m an adult, it’s time I give some back too!

  11. aww such a wonderfully written post and looks like you both had such a good time not only with the holiday but with each others company too – I can’t even imagine traveling with my mum, it would be so weird. You can see all the way through the post just how much she compliments you and like you mentioned at the top of the post how proud you feel that she thinks so highly of you. And you knows, one day you might be a highly decorated author 😀 – This was a really refreshing read.

    1. I thought it would be weird too, but we knew each other well enough to stay away from pushing any buttons. It was a different experience, but I wouldn’t have done it any differently (I think my mom would have preferred a bit more luxury though:)

  12. I love this two perspective format. I have had some wonderful experiences traveling with my mom, too. She’s tagged along on several work trips, and we even drove across the country together before I started my real job. I’ll have to send this to her.

    1. A road trip with your mom is certainly ambitious! I love that you two are able to spend time together travelling!

  13. Aah , I loved this . I really love to travel with my mom . As such she dint get a chance to travel a lot during her early days . But the passion she has is worth taking her anywhere . She is such an observer who would talk to me about the differences in the colours of the trees and leaves ! … We are lucky people to have those wonderful moms 🙂

    1. I totally get you. My mom raised two kids by herself and there certainly wasn’t time or money for travel. So now we get to show our moms the world!

  14. I LOVED this post. It is one of the best written posts I have come across of late. The whole concept of she said she said is so unique 🙂 The perspectives are so amazingly different yet same 🙂 I love traveling with mum and she is my favourite travel partner. Often all we do on a trip is not talk , just that comfortable silence. Mums are wonderful! <3

    1. Wow, thank you! My mom and have a lot of comfortable silences too. It’s so nice to travel with someone who knows you at that level.

  15. Love the format of this post! Never seen anything like it. Cuba is such an incredible place, only stayed in Havana unfortunately as it was for 5 days, but I’m dying to go back! What a wonderful introduction to international travel for your mom!

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