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What I Learned in Cuba and the Dominican Republic via Fathom...Part 1: My Path to Travel Deep

One cannot help but be enamored by the incredible cliff-side fortress San Pedro de la Roca Castle that overlooks the Caribbean. Built to protect Santiago de Cuba in 1638, it is a stunning collection of stairwells, alcoves, bastions, and cannons.

While exploring I heard in the distance a female harmony that was angelic. Working my way through the maze of stone, I came upon four women who use an alcove of the castle to practice. The way their voices resonated against the walls put me at peace with the world. Listen below...

Tourists kept walking by to listen for a moment, take a quick picture, or drop some Cuban currency in the small cup they had to the side. I decided to spend the last half-hour we had listening to them and stood there in complete Zen mode at times with my eyes closed hypnotized by their sound.

Our tour guide came up to me and told me we were leaving in five minutes. I don’t usually buy much when I travel as I prefer to journal my experiences to trinkets, but I wanted to buy their CD and tell them how incredible they were before I left. I was nervous doing so because I don’t speak Spanish. Luckily, one of them spoke some English so we could communicate. I told them how beautiful their sound was, gave them the rest of the Cuban currency I had left since it was my last day in Cuba, and learned that an American filmmaker was doing a short documentary about them.

Before I said goodbye, the singer to the far right came up to me to show me a pic on her phone. When I looked down, it was a picture of me with my eyes closed leaned up against a wall in my own world enjoying every note of their music. She said that she took that pic because her family knows she’s a singer and what she does for a living, but they don’t realize how what she does for a living touches other people. She now could show them. I took my picture with the women, kissed my hand and waved goodbye as I climbed the stairs back up to the entrance. I couldn’t have asked for a more special moment.

Many people stay at the surface when they travel. They arrive, take pictures, go on the tour, find cool places to eat and then they depart. One can’t travel deep at the surface. To find oil, you have to drill deep. To find diamonds, you have to mine deep. To explore the ocean floor, you have to dive deep. Here is the path to travel deep:

We All Start at the Surface

My surface was the tour of the San Pedro del la Roca Castle in Santiago de Cuba. There were amazing picture opportunities and sights to see.

The Catalyst to Travel Deep Presents Itself

When any of our five senses are enraptured or our curiosity is intrigued in travel, that’s the opportunity to journey down the path. It’s an invitation. Even though I found the women, listened to them, took pictures, and applauded their work…I was still at the surface.

Take a Smart Risk

I say take a “smart” risk because you should always consider your safety as our curiosity can sometimes affect our judgment. At the very least, you’ll have to get out of your comfort zone.

I could have used not speaking Spanish as an excuse not to take the risk, but I did. I would have never found out how my appreciation of their craft affected her, if I didn’t get out of my comfort zone.

Enjoy the Deep

An amazing moment won’t happen every time, but when it does, it can be an incredible experience. This was my favorite moment in Cuba and one I will never forget.

To travel deep is a choice. One I plan on making more often.


While I did receive a travel agent discount to familiarize myself with Fathom and their cruise to Cuba, I was never asked or received compensation to write about my experience. The decision was mine to share. Fathom offered all Cuba cruise passengers the opportunity to stay on board for the cruise to the Dominican Republic at a discounted rate and chose to do so to experience both products.

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