A journey to Cuba has been the motive and the starting point for us to create Localture. We had chosen to travel without a package tour hoping that to introduce ourselves into the sounds, the tastes, the flavours, and the beautiful landscape of the Caribbean without any kind of interference. Yet, before we board in the airplane, we did our homework. We read and asked everything that we could imagine about Cuba. Nevertheless, our enthusiasm was proved insufficient. We would surely require some amount of luck or in other words a “Deus ex machina” to boost our experience!
We found this God at the person of Hilberto, a local guy that lived with his family next to the apartment we were renting in Havana. After our acquaintance he volunteered to walk us through some of his secrets. The alleys he was raised, the traditional breakfast that his wife prepares for him every day, and the specialty of his brother the “ropa vieja”, one of the most traditional Cuban dishes. We also tried - with some success to be fair- to follow the steps and moves of his baby daughter dancing the “real” salsa cubana. At the end of the day we were swinging at his balcony’s chairs talking till the night about the politics and the history of his turbulent country.
Hilberto also offered us also some valuable advices for our next destination in the mainland, the Vinales Valley, a well-known tobacco area of Cuba. He proposed us to take a ride on horses and some other staff, however we soon discovered that without him or a guy like him we couldn’t take a good grasp on what was really happening there. We were searching about valuable things that conventional tourist guides - even the most profound - cannot offer. At the end, we stumbled across a local horse farmer who had the courtesy to walk us around share important information and insights. His influence was shocking. The following days we felt in a sense as a real part of the local community and culture. We joined in various activities as the traditional cigar rolling, the rum tasting and the process of sugarcane refining, living experiences that we will always cherish and recount to our friends for the rest of our life!
During the trip back home, our mind travelled back to our own beautiful and exciting country, Greece. All of us could remember now so many experiences, so many faces and landscapes from our vacations at the islands, the mainland and the mountainous areas, that made our time quite special. Experiences that we surely couldn’t have if we were foreigners or had to rely solely on a tourist guide. We thought of Yannis and his rooms-for-rent in Amorgos, who took us with his traditional fishing boat to collect sea urchins. We remembered Dimitris, from the distant island of Kasos who introduced us to the craft of making the local cheese called “sitaka”. Thanasis (aka “Tarzan”), owner of the famous little tavern in the mountainous Karpathos island, where you can collect your own vegetables from his garden and cook your meal along him. And in case you had few drinks more, Thanasis has also a traditional guesthouse next door where you can spend the night. More and more people kept coming across our minds. Anna, the old lady form Zagori mountain who trained us to the traditional loom machine and taught us how to make fabrics. While she explained the history of the craft from the ancient Greece to our days, she was constantly offering us some “tsipouro”, a type of ouzo drink that is accountable for not recollecting that much of it… Emilia, from the famous village of Anogia in Crete who made us a long tour in the woods in order to collect and afterwards boil “malotira” a singular, local type of tea. Finally, we couldn’t forget Eleni from the celebrated village ‘Christos of Raches’ in Icaria island, who trained us among a large group of foreigners from all over the world, how to dance the traditional local dance for the forthcoming fest of the local saint ;-)
Still up in the air, thinking and looking back to all these precious memories, we came up unexpectedly with the desire to share all this experiences with the millions of tourists and travellers that visit our country each year. To show to each one how to dance, what to eat, where to walk, even how to harvest and reap along with local people and families, professionals or amateurs, who all share a common value: the love for their country and their land.
Here comes Localture. With this, you won’t need a “Deus ex machina” as we did in Cuba nor much time or struggle to find all these beautiful thongs. All you will need is a good cheer and our network of our friends all over Greece will take care of the rest. We don’t know how many souvenirs you may have packed in your luggage but we can promise that when you return back home, you will have a pack full of memories in your mind that will stay there forever! Travel Global Live Local.. !!!