womens travel groups

TravelCircles: Traveling with a Group of Women

I love travel. And I love women. So several years ago I decide to combine those two things into TravelCircles!  And it's been magical!  :) Each year, I pick 1-2 countries to visit (this year we have Peru in June 2018 and New Zealand in January 2019! And I'm already starting to think about where to go in the fall of 2019! Yahoo!) and I open it up for anywhere between 6-12 women to join me. 

For someone who LOVES bringing people together and helping facilitate connection, conversation, and laughter-- these trips-- whether to Cuba, Greece, Nicaragua, or Rwanda--have been such a delight. Every time. It's truly amazing that a group of strangers can come together and have such a memorable time!  But instead of taking my word for it... 

We're celebrating in RWANDA that we all met each other on a trip to GREECE several years ago and have made amazing memories together in various countries since then!  From left to right: Miriam, Courtney, Shasta, and Angie.

We're celebrating in RWANDA that we all met each other on a trip to GREECE several years ago and have made amazing memories together in various countries since then!  From left to right: Miriam, Courtney, Shasta, and Angie.

As a group of us were traveling through Rwanda together this last summer, we realized three of the women had each been on three TravelCircles-- Miriam (age 60) from California, Courtney (age 33) from Maryland, and Angie (age 47) from Iowa! So, of course we had to take a photo!  And I had lots of questions for them!

THREE trips already!?!?!  And you're all signed up for a 4th trip this year! What inspires you to keep signing up for TravelCircles?

Miriam: I keep signing up for them because the trips are so well planned, involve much more than sightseeing and I feel safe traveling with a group that takes my wants and needs seriously. 
I have a passion for learning about people from around the world. Learning about religions, cultures, history, food and beautiful places. And this is all covered in these trips. The itinerary is active, busy, well balanced, fun and beautiful exposures to the places I have never seen before.
Finally, connecting with the women from my own country, getting to know them and share in such wonderful adventures is priceless. 

Courtney: I keep signing up because I've wanted to travel internationally but have lacked travel buddies and the know-how to plan all the details and get the most out of these locations. Also it's been an excellent way for me to expand my comfort zone and safely travel to places I never expected to go. These groups are special because of the unique experiences I never could've done on my own, like Making halva in the middle of the street in Ithaca with two Greek women that didn't speak English, or learning an African dance outside an art gallery with Rwandan kids laughing at us! These are fun experiences I'll never forget and likely very few people will get to have.

Angie: I'm thrilled that I found TravelCircles, I do believe that what really makes these trips so special and unique is the travel partner that TravelCircles uses to plan these adventures.  AltruVistas focuses on locally owned hotels, restaurants, and sightseeing partners.  They also make sure we meet local people and agencies. Depending on the country we are visiting we've met with people to discuss local farming practices, cooking lessons, immigration policies and women's rights.  Ive learned a lot and met people that I never would have met had I traveled on my own.

When you first signed up-- you didn't know anyone else who was coming. What advice do you have for our first-timers?

Miriam: That’s part of the adventure! We are all a little nervous at first but we end up friends. An experience like travel forms a very special bond. If you take responsibility for expressing your needs and keep an open mind and a spirit of tolerance and compassion, you have nothing to fear. And having a person in charge, moderating our interactions is also a strength about these trips. Shasta is on top of things all the time, so I don’t have to ...(lol)

Courtney:  I'm introverted and before I did my first TravelCircle to Greece, I was extremely nervous about not fitting in and not getting enough alone time. Much to my surprise, for the most part I really enjoyed hanging out with the other women, and if I needed a break, it was usually easy to opt-out for an evening or whatever I needed. I'm also not adventurous when it comes to food, but I was always able to make it work. Try a few bites of something, then order what makes you feel more comfortable. 

Angie: Even though you may bond easier with one person than another, we don't let that prevent us from getting to know the others. We all make an effort to spend time with each traveler, sitting with different people in the van or at restaurants etc. and really feel like one group rather than separate little cliques traveling together.  We all have always tried to help each other out, whether it's borrowing something or all of us trying to find a particular item someone needs.

Courtney: To that point, ask for what you need. Always. I freaked out a couple weeks before going to Rwanda and sent a panicked email to Shasta and Malia and they both responded with care and love and compassion. If you don't feel well, if you're uncomfortable with something, if you need a break from the group, if you really need to see something specific in-country, just tell someone. No one can help you if you keep your needs to yourself. And everyone will want to help and support you any way they can. 

So what country will I see each of you in next? :)

Courtney: Peru!  I'm most excited about Machu Picchu and the paragliding option. Oh, and the weekend in the Amazon.

Angie: Peru for me, too! In fact, it's funny because Courtney and I have become good friends through these trips but we've never even see each other in our own country. And I'm probably old enough to be her mom (ha!) but I absolutely love her and am so glad we met in Greece!

Miriam: New Zealand for me.  I've always wanted go there!  I am so grateful for the opportunity to be part of these trips. I would never be able to have these experiences on my own. My world has become much bigger and yet I feel much closer to women across the ocean and in other countries because I have seen how much we have in common and how interesting our differences can be. I’ve learned so much and I hope to continue to be able to participate in many more adventures. 

Well I can say it has been such a joy to travel with all of you.  And we've together made some amazing memories and met such inspiring women along the way! See you abroad! xoxo

And if you want to join us: you can always see our upcoming trips here or leave your name to be notified when new trips are added!

The Gift of Flexibility in Relationships

I returned home this week to the United States; back to a country where we can flush our toilet paper down the toilet, drink water out of the tap, and choose to sleep past the sound of roosters.  Ha! But oh there is already so much to miss about Nicaragua: sighting monkeys in forests, eating amazing food, sampling fruits I've never seen before, practicing my Spanglish with the locals, hiking to waterfalls, watching the "run with the bulls" in Granada, making tortillas on a wood oven, learning how to make tamales from a local family, walking through charming towns, and just learning about an amazing population of our brothers and sisters in another part of this world. It was all so very special.

If you're familiar with our TravelCircles then you'll know that all our trips are designed for women to come alone and get to know each other.  We start the trip as strangers; depart as friends. It's one of the most magical parts of the trips.

Here we all are on top of our van waiting to watch the annual "Running with the Bulls" in Granada!

Leaning Like the Bamboo

One story that emerged on our trip is so appropriate to friendship that I wanted to pop into your inbox this weekend with this little inspiration for you, trusting that there is a relationship in your life where this truth can serve as an invitation to, as well.

The chances of any two people wanting to do the exact same activities, with the same exact needs and energy levels, enjoying it in the same way, at the exact same time is the stuff of fairy tales.

In fact, in some ways it's easier to travel with strangers than it is with friends or family-- we're all on our best behavior, more willing to try new things, and excited to get to know each other; but no matter who we travel beside on vacation or through life, the art of compromise is ever-present.

The lesson the bamboo is inspirational to all of us in our relationships.

At one of our hotels, one "wall" of our eating area was bamboo.  And it was so loud-- creaking and groaning and singing with the wind. For a city girl like me, to be sipping my morning Nicaraguan coffee and be serenaded by the bamboo was such a delight.

Bamboo is one of those trees that teaches lesson after lesson, but on that morning the one that popped into my head was:

Flexibility: Bamboo bends with the wind, never fighting against it. But it doesn't blow away with the wind, it stays rooted. Its ability to bend without breaking or being uprooted is so beautiful.  It's the perfect metaphor for flexibility-- being able to go-with-the-flow without ever losing our center or our roots.

The Gift of Flexibility

Being flexible isn't weak, rather it's one of the strongest choices ever: leaving one standing straight even after the winds tire out.

We often think of being flexible as someone who compromises and rarely gets what they

While not everyone on our trip was as excited about wild monkeys as I was, they said that my enthusiasm was contagious. Ha! We were all pretty excited to see this guy down on the ground!

really want.  But as our group shared our favorite moments of the trip on our last night together-- I can attest that we all very much got what we wanted: Jennifer got in her nightlife, Erika her chocolate, Miriam her rain forest, Pamela her market photos, and me my monkeys.

Flexibility didn't mean we didn't get what we wanted, but rather that we helped each other get what was most important to each other!

And in so doing, we each received so much more than we were looking for!

There were activities on the itinerary that I would surely have skipped if I were traveling alone or with my husband.

 

What I might have missed:

  • I definitely would have skipped driving up to the rural village on dirt roads, but because we all had to go together, I went along. Fortunately! Because we ducked into a little home up there to learn how to make our own tortillas from grinding the corn to flipping it over on the wood-fire. And let me just say that there is hardly anything tastier than salt on a hot homemade tortilla!
  • I probably would have talked myself out of riding a horse in the rain, but because

    Riding Estelle through the most gorgeous rain forest ever was a magical experience!

    others were excited about it, I went along.  And it may have been my favorite day of the trip-- we saw monkeys, took photos at gorgeous vistas, and laughed a lot!

  • I would have listened to my exhaustion and relaxed at the hotel, but because Jennifer was so excited to go to Salsa dance lessons, I decided to join her.  Good thing, otherwise I would have missed out on a lot of laughter! Ha!

It was so impressive to watch us practice hearing each others needs and doing what we could do make the trip amazing for everyone.  And it surprised me again how in so doing that for others-- I was exposed to things I wouldn't have chosen myself.

In other words: my trip was BETTER because I was flexible. I lost little to nothing, but gained so much more.

In your relationships, I invite you to consider: What would it look like for you to let the wind blow you a little in a new direction? What might you do with someone or how might you respond differently if you knew you could bend and not break? What could you be open to even if it's not what you would personally choose?  How might you and a friend do a better job of leaning into what makes each other happy?

With Lake Nicaragua behind us, we pose for a quick moment before the rain soaked us!  :)

p.s.  Want to travel with us?  All women over the age of 21 are invited to come on any of our trips! Our next two trips with availability are to Cuba this November or Turkey next May! See info here.

 

What does traveling to Afghanistan have to do with friendships?

travel quotes
travel quotes

 "Why are you planning all these travel trips?" I'm often asked by people who seem perplexed what a friendship author and speaker is doing planning trips. :)

My short answer:  Anyone who cares about friendship has to care about personal growth and the moments in life that can bring us together. Travel does both: it bonds us and grows us.  There are few things more bonding and growing than leaving our comfort zones together.

I also think it's downright magical to be going on trips together where we are intentionally learning about our sisters in other countries.  There are few things in this world more beautiful than having moments of resonance with women who don't even speak the same language as we do.  Everywhere we go we're doing it with eyes that look with our hearts to better understand the life and voice of women in that place.

Then, the next question is usually, "But why Afghanistan?"

For that, I asked Kathy, the trip ambassador who will be leading a small group of women (ideally 6 women-- we have room for 2 more!) into this country to share with us why she's so passionate.  Just reading her response makes me want to go on this once-in-a-lifetime trip!

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By Kathy:"I have been asked many times, “Why do you want to go to Afghanistan?” always followed immediately by, “Aren’t you afraid?” The answers to both those questions are complex.

I had never before been interested in going to the Middle East in my life, and I believe a part of my draw is that it is a country that has been living just under my radar for more than a decade. A country who’s name I have heard a million times. I want to experience the people and culture of this land where so many men and woman have fought and died for. I know from talking to people whom have been there that the people of Afghanistan are warm and kind and that it is a beautiful country. One soldier told me he wished he could go back as a tourist because of its beauty. Another told me he feels frustrated with how many Americans view the Afghani people because they are not just everything the news reports on. The problems in Afghanistan are complex, but they do not define the people or tell the whole story of the country!    

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My experience in Iran last year was so amazing that it fanned the flame of my desire to experience Afghanistan. The rich history and the culture of the area is far from anything most Americans can begin to understand. And this is what makes it a fascinating place for me to want to experience. It was fun and interesting to dress as was required of us, with head coverings and in modest clothes. It was exciting learning words in a completely foreign language, one you don’t get to learn in school. I was honored to be a part of bridging the gap between two cultures who have a tenuous history, and humbled to meet people as fellow human beings with no prejudice and rather a sense of curiosity, wonder, and awe. I loved the people as much as anything else. I am expecting similar feelings and experiences in Afghanistan.

travel quote: THe world is a book and those who not travel read only one page.
travel quote: THe world is a book and those who not travel read only one page.

Am I scared? Cautious is a better word. I closely follow the news from Afghanistan and after the April 5th elections felt tremendous hope. The Afghan elections were a major victory with almost seven million voters - 36 percent of them women - coming out to say a loud "no" to the terror of the Taliban, and a clear "yes" to the ballot box. I know from my experience in Iran that our guide and driver were very protective of us and would have done anything to keep us safe. I know the same will be true in Afghanistan. Safety will come before anything else.  (Our travel agency has been sending trips there all year...and is always making decisions with safety as the highest priority!)

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I listened to a webinar today by Naomi Simson who talked about “The 2% mindset” where only 2% of the population lives outside their comfort zone by acting in spite of fear, exploring new things, embracing the unknown, going for their dreams, and living without limits. I want to be part of the 2%.

I don't think it's a coincidence that a woman who is willing to go outside her comfort zone in traveling is also the woman who is ready to cheer lead all of us into new friendships and adventures, even in our own cities.  Kathy also happens to be the Ambassador Director for GirlFriendCircles.com, a job she does on the side of her nursing career because she knows that we also have to go outside our comfort zone to build the friendships that enrich our lives.

So in answer to the question, "What does traveling to Afghanistan have to do with friendships?" The answer is multi-faceted!  Going on this trip will give you the opportunity to make friends yourself, to meet your sisters from another country, and because it will expand you and give you more courage in your own friend-making process back home!  I'm in favor of all of that!  :)

Whether Kathy has piqued your interest in joining her in Afghanistan, or whether we've just whet your appetite for travel, in general-- we hope you know that if you're a woman who is open to some adventure and ready to do it in the circle of other women-- you're welcome on any of our trips!

And even if you don't travel with us, I'd love to hear how travel has enriched your life!  Where have you gone and how did it change you? Have you traveled with friends before? Have you traveled with strangers and felt bonded by the adventures? How have you seen your worldview grow? Tell me!

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Sign up here to be on the VIP TravelCircles list to be notified of new trips as they're added.

Other Planned Travel Trips for Women Only:

  • Nicaragua-- is one of our most affordable trips and it's the next one on the docket!  This trip is eco-tourism at it's best; filled with hikes, volcanoes, waterfalls, small towns, good food, and lots of things to help your body exhale from stress.  Come be invigorated with amazing women around you! (optional surfing lessons!)
  • Greece-- I'm leading this trip, you're welcome to join us through all the magical places of this beautiful country.
  • Afghanistan-- you read about it above.  If you have questions, let us know!
  • Chile & Argentina-- 2 countries and lots of culture, food, and wine!
  • Cuba-- Our 3rd and last planned trip to this country-- join us now if you're interested because it's a super special place to visit right now.

All trips, dates, itineraries, and prices are available here: www.WomensTravelCircles.com

Womens Travel Groups: An Interview with Our Travel GirlFriend

Malia Everett, CEO of Altruvistas, oversees all of our women's travel groups going out each year to places like Kenya, Cuba, and Nicaragua!
Malia Everett, CEO of Altruvistas, oversees all of our women's travel groups going out each year to places like Kenya, Cuba, and Nicaragua!

This week's blog post is an interview with Malia Everett, who has over two decades of experience pioneering cultural and educational exchanges, and has graciously jumped in (with little immediate pay-off!) to oversee all of our GirlFriendCircles TravelCircles trips to such places as Cuba, Kenya, and Nicaragua!

Malia believes in the power of travel as a transformational tool for education and social change and facilitates tours to over 80 countries around the world focusing on international relations, human rights, political economy, sustainable development, women’s issues and the resilience of indigenous cultures.

As the founder and CEO of Altruvistas she is personally putting together the most thoughtful itineraries and experiences for all our trips geared around the woman's life and voice to each country!

At the bottom of the interview, we highlight some of our upcoming trips!

Shasta:  Malia, people talk all the time about how important it is to havepassion for their jobs, but there's passion and then there's the kindpassion you have!  It's deep and amazing-- can you share with us wherethat comes from?

Malia: I love what I do and I know my passion is contagious. Working in the world of socially responsible travel that is educational and truly philanthropic is a vocation for me. I consider myself deeply blessed to have found my calling and to share that with others. What keeps me excited about the work every day, is the same truth that has fed my soul for the past 20 years: I get to experience the transformational power of travel firsthand.

For example, when a GirlFriend comes back and calls me with excitement and enthusiasm sharing how the journey changed her life, that she learned things she'd never even thought about before; I know the work is worthwhile. The journeys create well-being, not only for the traveler but also for the host communities. This is being in service to me.

Shasta: When most of us hear of ethical travel, I'm not sure we even knowwhat's involved with that term!  What is important to you in the planningof trips to other countries?

Malia: In order for travel to be truly ethical, it needs to incorporate the best practices of both ecological and social responsibility. Some travel companies focus on one or the other. Altruvistas philosophy is holistic in its approach; we focus on both eco-consciousness  AND social responsibility because we believe that travelers should benefit the people and places they visit.

Sustainable Tourism helps sustain livelihoods, support local communities and conserve the world¹s natural and cultural heritage. At Altruvistas we know that responsible tourism is a powerful tool in poverty reduction. Our staff is experienced travel professionals with a shared commitment to sustainability and a passion to ensure the benefits of responsible tourism globally.  In order to maximize the benefits and full potential of tourism we must acknowledge that conventional tourism has negative impact. A few issues of concern to us are: capital flight in our globalized economy; the commodification of cultures and people (including sex tourism and human trafficking); and the environmental impacts of flying that contributes to greenhouse gases. In fact, climate change poses a severe threat to those things that responsible travelers hold sacred: ­ local communities, biodiversity, and environments around the world. Altruvistas tackles the lack of equity in the conventional tourism economy and encourages best practices for ourselves, for our travelers, and for those we partner with globally.

Shasta: You've been a huge advocate for our TravelCircles.... What, in youropinion, makes our trips special?

Malia: I LOVE the GirlFriendCircles brand and have personally and professional learned a lot from traveling with you, Shasta. During our first professional delegation of women to Cuba I saw firsthand how you facilitated

Malia and me in Cuba last summer, at a rooftop restaurant overlooking Havana!
Malia and me in Cuba last summer, at a rooftop restaurant overlooking Havana!

friendship circles and truly helped women quickly make friendships. Right away the group dynamic was smooth and connective. Since then I have seen how your ambassadors are deeply committed to the girlfriends well-being as they consistently encourage the travelers to meet and share with others.

I think TravelCircles are special as they combine the BEST of GFC and Altruvistas. Together we are creating unique experience. These are journeys BY and FOR women, to experience great sites in a sustainable way that honors the women you are traveling with and exchanging with. Yes all the trips see the major world heritage sites and important cultural monuments, yet we also get off the beaten path and into the businesses, schools, artists studios, organizations and homes of women.

Shasta: Some women have wondered about the safety of some of the countries we've chosen, including our trip to Afghanistan this fall, can you tellus why you think it's important to visit these countries?

Malia: Traveling to places, where the US or the West has strained political or economic relationships, is important. I believe that when we break bread together, learn about each others struggles, share hopes for the future and hear others aspirations for the future we create understanding and that fosters peace building. Traveling to Afghanistan, Iran and other countries  like Cuba are important examples of how GFC courageously embraces a women's citizen diplomacy. Women return informed and engaged with first hand stories that are much more complex and candid than dominant media coverage.

Shasta: One of the special elements on all our trips is visiting a few NGO'sin each country that are supporting the causes of women-- how do youthink that adds to the experience of a trip and why is it so important?

Malia: Meetings with women's organizations is a grounding element of the TravelCircles. This is one vital way for us to learn what our shared struggles and successes are as women. While the whole trip is not focused on a gender rights struggle or issue, we make intentional time to explore important issues impacting women's lives where we go. Our women are curious and engaged.  Thus adding a few meetings that examine themes like political representation, cultural and religious norms and gender rights, poverty and socioeconomic equity provide a lot of opportunities to exchange and share with our hosts and in our group. Additionally we have visited with NGO's serving elders and children, tackling domestic violence and human trafficking. These are important issues to not gloss over.  At TravelCircles we include these visits to bridge differences, to build solidarity between ourselves and our hosts, and hopefully to inspire Girlfriends to give back when back home.

Shasta: We make a donation every quarter and we'd love for you to pick one of your favorite causes and organizations-- tell us about the one you pick!

Malia: I am SO honored! I am really excited to share the work of MISSSEY with GFC. I love working locally and internationally and one of the issues very close to my heart is modern-day slavery. Altruvistas is a signatory of the ECPAT's Code  an industry-driven responsible tourism initiative with a mission to provide awareness, tools and support to the tourism industry in order to prevent the sexual exploitation of children. The work MISSSEY does is vital for educating and advocating for vulnerable Bay Area youth in the face of poverty, sexual exploitation and human trafficking. I've supported their work for years.

Shasta: On behalf of GirlFriendCircles.com, we will be making a donation to MISSSEY because of you!  And finally, each trip for us is connected to building friendships--tell us what role friendships play in your life right now.  In what waysis your life better because of your female friends?

I can not imagine my life without my friends! I am not just saying that either. After I become a mother in 2000 I had so little time to be me, just Malia. I was a mother of, lover of, worker of, activist of...I was always on!  After reading a book called the Red Tent, a friend and I decided to create a Full Moon circle, our own GirlFriendsCircle if you will. We needed a ritual to connect in our overwhelming lives. We are now celebrating 13 years in friendships. We have celebrated births and new loves together. We have toasted new jobs and beginnings. We have mourned the loss of parents and friends. We have held each other through divorce and break ups. We have giggled, danced, cried and eaten hours a way in fellowship. I count my wealth in the love I have of community, family and friends.

Thank you Malia!  Thank you not just for what you're giving to us GirlFriends as we travel the world, but to what you're giving and doing for the world overall! xoxo

Our TravelCircles are open to ALL women over the age of 21.  To be on our list that announces new trips, sign up here.

womens travel groups
womens travel groups

Plus, we currently have room for a couple more women to join us this fall to:

  • Nicaragua*
  • Greece
  • Cuba
  • Afghanistan
  •  Kenya*
  • Chile & Argentina

For all trips and details, go to www.WomensTravelGroups.com

*We also have two upcoming live Q & A calls where you can learn more about the trips to Nicaragua (Saturday May 17th at 9 am PST) and Kenya (Saturday, May 24th at 10 am PST) trips.  Email Malia@altruvistas.com for more information!

Why Travel with GirlFriendCircles?

Michelle Scott-- the beautiful GFC TravelCircle host and author of this guest post.
Michelle Scott-- the beautiful GFC TravelCircle host and author of this guest post.

Welcome home to the 15 women who just returned from our 2nd TravelCircle to Cuba!  And a huge thanks to Michelle Scott for not only being the GFC ambassador on this trip, but also for writing this guest blog that gives us a glimpse into the amazing experience you all had!

Also, Michelle is leading TWO of the 9 scheduled TravelCircles in 2014-- GirlFriends Eco-Adventuring in Nicaragua in August and the Women Dancing & Sipping through Argentina & Chile in November. Check them out--you'd be lucky to be in her care!  (All trips are highlighted at the end of the blog and can be found at www.WomensTravelCircles.com)

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by Michelle Scott

Planning an adventure is an interesting thing. You can spend months preparing an itinerary, but you never know when those magical moments will occur, or how, and with whom connections will develop. Such was our experience in Cuba.

Our first morning in Cuba, we sat in a circle, looking at 15 unfamiliar faces. Who were these women, who had made group travel to Cuba a priority?

One of many amazing meals we shared, talking and laughing, with the yummy Cuban drinks!
One of many amazing meals we shared, talking and laughing, with the yummy Cuban drinks!

Each of us had chosen to invest and engage in this particular adventure at this specific time. Most came to learn, some came to be inspired or to find direction, and at least one came to honor the memory of a loved one, who valued travel and culture. All were united in our value of friendship and adventure.

GirlFriendCircles (GFC) began TravelCircles this year. While each trip is unique, all focus on two main components. 1) We travel together with the intention of connecting with each other in a meaningful and honoring way. 2) We learn about the lives of women living in that particular country/region.

Our Travel Through Cuba

Because GFC teams with Altruvistas, we are able to experience Cuba or any country we travel to in a deeper, more connected and invested manner. In other words, we’re not there as passive tourists. We show up, ready to engage and build relationships with the people we meet.

A dance class where we got a chance to watch the best perform and then learn to do some of the steps ourselves!
A dance class where we got a chance to watch the best perform and then learn to do some of the steps ourselves!

On this particular trip, we learned from Cubans with firsthand knowledge of history, architecture, politics, healthcare, literacy and education, music, art, community development, and social services. At times, our role was more like new students, soaking up information. Other times, we were colleagues, processing what we were learning and integrating it with previous knowledge. Because there was mutual respect and interactive conversations, it was an engaging way of learning.

We learned about The Cuban 5 and how Cubans view the U.S. embargo/blockade. We learned about diversity and prejudice. We gained new appreciation for murals and the value of art within a community. We learned how to make our own perfume. We learned to dance, laugh and fan our way through Cutumba. While much of our itinerary was full (because learning hours are required for our visas), there were times, when we practiced slowing down enough to listen, engage and experience. And we loved those moments that unified us with little to no effort on our part other than being present in the moment and accepting its gifts.

“Why are you glad you went on this trip?”

But don't just take it from me, I asked some of the other women on the trip to answer the question: “Why are you glad you went on this trip?”

  • Kate S. from Chicago shared, “I have never been on a trip where I connected with so many different people. This trip provided the ability to have personal interactions with Cubans in a way that would not have been possible had I traveled independently. The stories we heard, the culture we experienced, and conversations we had will stay with me forever. The group of girls from GirlFriendCircles were the best people to share this experience with; I truly believe some of the friendships we made will last a lifetime.”
  • Our group!  We love each other.  What fun!
  • Amy from North Carolina responded, “I'm glad I saw Cuba just before what I anticipate to be a period of great change. It's amazing to be surrounded by such history and so little of our ubiquitous consumerist culture.”
  • Jennifer from Wisconsin replied, “I loved the feeling of truly being lost in another time. Some of my favorite moments were in Old Havana, with the bustling streets, amazing cars, music playing in the air, and the colorful patchwork textures and buildings all around. It was a treat for my senses. Cuba has a kind of raw energy that you don't see much elsewhere.”
  • Kirsten from British Columbia shared, “Cuba deserves so much credit for surviving as it has for so long against such overwhelming odds. I was grateful to be exposed to a different truth than the one many of us have learned. In the end I think there is truth on all sides. I was impressed by a different value system, one that places the emphasis on taking care of each other, rather than on individual achievement.”
  • Kimberly from Florida responded, “Mostly glad to meet such an amazing group of American women, but so glad to have seen the resiliency of the Cuban women and people. The countryside and architecture were beautiful!!”

Are you considering travel with GirlFriendCircles? Now is the time to express your interest. Many trips are planned for 2014. (See the list of all 9 trips below!) These adventures are full of great activities and opportunities to meet wonderful people, who also value friendship. What could be better than experiencing a new culture while building connection and friendship?

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travelCircle
travelCircle

Ready to Travel, GirlFriend? 

Scheduled TravelCircles that Still Have Availability in 2014:

GirlFriends Eco-Adventuring in Nicaragua August 2-11, 2014

For adventurous and active women this trip is filled with hikes, learning, and beauty! (Also, optional 2-day surfing lessons)

Women and Goddesses in Greece Aug 29-Sept. 9, 2014

Ready to explore the Parthenon, Acropolis, and the Temple of Zeus? This is trip with spirituality, myths, beauty, art, and the divine feminine.

Women of Compassion on Safari in Kenya September 27-October 6

Combine the best wildlife of a Safari with amazing opportunities to learn about social causes and regional issues affecting women in Africa.

Women & Current Affairs in Afghanistan October 4-13, 2014

Ready to understand a country in a more real way than just what we see on TV?  Watch history unfold in an intimate and local way.

Women Dancing & Sipping through Argentina & Chile Nov 1-11

Get ready to dance, cook, sip wine and inhale all the beauty, culture, and history of two amazing countries: Argentina and Chile!

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