If you know me, you know I LOVE to travel – love is really an understatement. My love for travel was rooted at a young age. My parents made it a point to take my brother and I on as many adventures throughout our life – so I have them to thank for injecting me with the travel bug.
After traveling abroad to Spain my Junior year in College I promised myself to travel abroad at least once a year for the rest of my life. I’d say I’ve been doing pretty well, even exceeding my own goals. (Fun fact I’ve been to 10 countries since I set my goal back in 2014.)
“Do you even work?”
I get asked a lot by my peers, how I get to travel so much and if I even work. And no this isn’t one of those, “I blog for a living and get to travel full-time, just be sure to use my code to get access to this secret book,” deals. I actually work full-time at one of the biggest advertising agencies in the Central Valley managing 20+ accounts.
As any millennial, I was worried I’d be stuck working a 9-5 job after college and my love for travel would have to be limited to 2 weeks a year and that’s even if I had enough PTO accrued. Fortunately for me, I get to work at one of two companies in Fresno that is ROWE certified. ROWE, which stands for Results-Only Work Environment™, is an innovative management style in which employees are evaluated strictly on performance, rather than attendance.
So that means I can work from anywhere, anytime, and have unlimited PTO…as long as I get my work done well resulting in happy clients. Challenge accepted!
I set my eyes for a people-to-people exchange in Cuba summer of 2017. So how did I ROWE? To begin with, I knew choosing Cuba, as my destination would pose a bit of a challenge due to the limited Internet access of the country. So that meant even if I wanted to work remotely a few hours or simply check my emails, I would have to plan accordingly and find Internet access (pay a good price for just an hour) since the, “Casas Particulares,” (basically Airbnb’s) didn’t have Wi-Fi.
My other option would be to completely go off the grid so-to-speak and embrace the no Internet, no Wi-Fi lifestyle and make myself completely unavailable during my stay. I decided why not both? I have the flexibility to work anywhere and what a cooler place than to work in Cuba while overlooking the beautiful city of Havana.
Prior to leaving to Cuba for a week, I made sure I met all critical client deadlines and communicated to my team I would not be available during specific dates. I wanted to make sure I embraced the Cuban lifestyle, people and culture as much as I could. So, I decided that I would only dedicate a limited amount of downtime of my ROWEcation toward the end of my trip to work (to get the experience of working remotely in another country …heck yeah!).
My week without wifi or Internet access was actually easier than I envisioned and it really gave me the opportunity to take in the sights, smells, music and people that Cuba has to offer. I took an appreciation for the exuberant attitudes of Cuban people who don’t rely on digital devices to bring entertainment to their life. One afternoon, I sat in Parque Central watching a game of soccer that some local kids were enjoying playing with tourists.
I particularly enjoyed photographing the idiosyncratic faces of Cuba from the beaming people of Cuba to the gleeful dogs that wonder the streets of Old Havana. Check out some pictures below. My concept was to show the universal language that all of us in this planet share, the language of a friendly smile.
My #Rowecation was amazing and can’t wait to share my next adventure with you all!
–Nidia Verdugo, Media Buyer