When we were finally able to tear ourselves away from the estate, we headed down to Little Havana, stopping on the way to grab a cortado- an espresso with evaporated milk. Because we do not speak Spanish (shame on us) we were very fortunate to have a kind lady translate and order for us.
After sipping our delicious cortado, we arrived at the Maximo Gomez Park, otherwise known as Domino Park. This is a hot spot for those who love dominos, because there are multiple tables under a pavilion where probably 50 people usually engage in the game. Ages varied, but the majority of the players were retired. We hung out with the locals for a while and talked politics. It was interesting to learn that most Cubans are republican and value small business and education. They were a very welcoming crowd and we really enjoyed our time there.
Our next stop was to Abvela’s Cuban Kitchen in Little Havana, where we ate a sit-down meal, per scavenge requirement. It was wonderful, boasting fresh ingredients, comfortable atmosphere, and friendly staff. We ate a shrimp dish with peppers and spice, with a side of rice and beans. Yum!
At last, it was time to head back to the hotel to meet up with the group and learn who won the Global Scavenger Hunt. We were already excited because we got a phone call from my twin sister, Mamie, who informed us that her boyfriend Steven Kuykendall proposed! A great day for all!
We ordered drinks and chatted excitedly with our fellow adventurers about all of our experiences. Finally, we all sat down to hear the results of the competition. Not surprisingly, our friends the Sidney Sisters were the winners! You go, girls! We came in fourth place and were pleased with that, as we would get so absorbed in each scavenge that we really stopped trying to compete early on in the competition (we took several hours in the Vizcaya, for example).
Our final activity as a group was our winners’ gala dinner that night. We convened at Toro Toro, one of the top restaurants in Miami, and the meal was delicious! It was also the time to hand out the other prizes, and I am pleased to say that Mom and I won two of them: the World’s Tackiest Souvenir (see below), and the Best Global Price Index (we priced diapers around the world. Note: They are expensive everywhere! Use cloth!).
It was such a bittersweet ending to an incredible experience. Everyone hung out in the hotel lobby for a while, and no one wanted to say goodbye. The wonderful thing is that we now have new friends from all over the USA (and Australia), and we know that we will always be connected through the love of travel!
The Global Scavenger Hunt is one of those adventures that most people dream of experiencing, but few actually do. We were blessed to be able to participate, and we learned a lot and had so much fun along the way. Being able to learn about different cultures through hands-on experiences grows the mind and strengthens the spirit, and helps us to become better people.
Everyone seems to be searching for inner peace in life, and travel just might be the best way to find it, second to prayer. When you enter into a community, for however brief a time, a piece of your heart changes; you learn lessons that you carry forever. It is one thing to understand these lessons in theory, but it is another to understand them through seeing them in practice. In Fiji, we learned that faith and community are all that you truly need to make life a beautiful thing. In Bali, we learned that deep spirituality allows you to value life in all things, and this gives you joy wherever you are. In Italy, we learned that history engrains itself into culture and impacts generations, so we must think hard before we act, because our choices ripple down through centuries. In the United Arab Emirates, we learned that there are people who will embrace you everywhere you go and that traveling to areas that are so foreign in ideals and religion will help strengthen peace between nations.
The journey we took around the world was exciting, educational, and invigorating, but the journey we took within ourselves is what will influence us the most, and that lasts a lifetime.
The Global Scavenger Hunt was truly a wonderful experience, and we are so excited that we were able to be a part of it. We cannot wait to go out on our next journey and see what other exciting things are in store.