When you are born and grow up in an island, no matter how beautiful it is, your perspective of the rest of the world is absolutely different from anyone else’s. There are no walls or borders that keep you away from other countries, because you don’t need them. Instead, you have the sea to keep you…safe? I believe that feeling is probably similar to whatever a fish experiences when living in an aquarium; you can swim, you eat what they want you to eat, it looks nice and calm, and it seems that you have almost everything you might need…but just because you’ve never known anything else!
I’m Ana, a “colorful fish” blessed with being born in the biggest and most gorgeous island in the Caribbean! I left Cuba for the very first time right after I finished High School. I knew I was going to miss the white sand beaches, the endless sunny afternoons, the warmth and happiness of my people, the sound of the drums and the sweet smell of fresh-baked guava pastries. As a compensation, I got lush green forests, effervescent volcanoes, and welcoming and smiling faces. I was lucky enough to arrive in a friendly, small and exuberant country in the middle of America, that really lives up to its name: Costa Rica!
For the next 18 years, I switched arroz congri and yucas con mojo to gallo pinto and corn tortillas, and the crystal-clear water beaches to amazing hot springs and breathtaking mountains. Working in the tourism industry allowed me the opportunity to visit almost every single corner of Costa Rica. I have the feeling that I will never have too many Churchills in Puntarenas, delicious ice cream in La Fortuna with a fantastic view of Arenal Volcano, or homemade tortillas for breakfast before a pleasant hike to magnificent Rio Celeste.
You might think I’m crazy, but yes, I did it again! Just one year ago I moved to New Orleans! I can’t swear this is going to be my last time, as it seems that I’m becoming addicted; I’m still getting accustomed to spicy food and year-round parades. There are many things that remind me of Cuba, the hot weather, the long summer days, the Jazz music, and the fact that any reason is a good one to have a party.
Then Chill Expeditions worked its magic and put my two passions together by having the privilege of helping people to plan their trips to Cuba and Costa Rica. Sometimes I feel I don’t belong anywhere; but thanks to Chill, it seems that I actually belong everywhere. I could have breakfast in New Orleans and lunch in Philly, followed by an afternoon meeting at a school, in preparation for their upcoming trip to any of our destinations. Not everyone is so lucky nowadays!
Being an immigrant gives you some benefits. You start to appreciate the things you left behind, sometimes by giving them even more value that they really have – actually, most of the time – but you also get the opportunity to discover new places, meet new people and experience new adventures. No one said it would be easy, but it’s up to you to make it worth it!
A Chill Expeditions experience is similar to emigrating for a short amount of time. You are not a tourist, you are a local! You have the chance to try delicious food, learn to dance, enjoy music, help small communities, and become part of them! After that, you may still miss it, but you will never want to go back to your fish tank!
— Ana Lam Yen, Chill Expeditions Support & Reservations