Havana weeks before Fidel died: Mafia history still looms

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Author Heather Conn (centre) with friend Merrily Corder and Orlando in Santa Lucia, Cuba

 

 

 

Few people realize how much the Mafia shaped the economy of Havana for more than 30 years. While visiting Cuba’s capital in October-November 2016, I relished the chance to learn more about the country’s illegal past.

My December 9, 2016 travel feature Havana Travel article 2016 (Coast Reporter) reveals some tidbits of Havana’s Mafia history, along with some shocking environmental realities.

A Yukon relic: a novel way to honour a friend’s memory

It wasn’t Sam McGee’s fiery demise in Lake Lebarge, but I knew that Stewart River in the Yukon was the right spot to honour her memory.

Before writer friend Janet Collins died in the summer of 2013, she made an innovative request to those who later attended her memorial.

To find out how I fulfilled her desire to continue travelling the world, see my feature “Travelling with Janet: Remembering a friend on the Stewart River,” published Oct. 30, 2014 in the weekly newspaper What’s Up Yukon.

(Unfortunately, in the online version, a few words are missing on the turn page. It should say: “It was late July, 2014, almost exactly a year after her memorial, or, ‘going away party,’ as she had called it prior to her death.”)

This story later appeared in the Coast Reporter in Sechelt, BC. 

 

New travel memoir highlights India

My newly completed memoir, No Letter in Your Pocket: Twenty Years Healing a Family Secret, provides adventurous tales of my seven months in India in 1990-1991.

This revealing book interweaves denial about a primal family relationship with adventure, romance and spiritual exploration. From its highs—describing a successful climb of the 20,000-foot peak Stok Kangri—to its lows—suffering bacterial dysentery and sexual assaults—this tale carries the reader through a middle-aged woman’s quest for truth, forgiveness, and reconciliation.

Excerpts from this yet-unpublished account have appeared in two anthologies, including Emails from India: Women Write Home (Seraphim Editions 2013).

I am currently seeking a literary agent for representation for this and other books.

Travel essay “Bird Sanctuary” appears in anthology Emails from India: Women Write Home

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My travel essay “Bird Sanctuary,” which describes World Heritage Site Keoladeo National Park near Bharatpur, appears in the anthology Emails from India: Women Write Home.

Published in the fall of 2013 by Seraphim Editions in Ontario, this book features the writing of 28 female contributors from across North America, along with several Europeans.

The Georgia Straight, Vancouver, B.C.’s entertainment weekly, recommended Emails from India: Women Write Home in December 2013 as one of its top 10 seasonal gifts for travellers.

Click on this emails from india link to read Bird Sanctuary.

Hemingway’s footsteps retraced during pilgrimage in Pamplona, Spain

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I’m posing at the Hemingway statue
by the Plaza de Toros in Pamplona, Spain.

As a Camino de Santiago pilgrim in Spain in June 2013, I sought out some of Ernest Hemingway’s favourite haunts in Pamplona. As I wrote:

“It was easy to imagine the expatriate writer arm-wrestling over one of the many patio tables or downing too many absinthes or whiskeys in fading Spanish light. . .”

Click on this Seeking Hemingway feature link to read my article “Seeking out Hemingway,” published in the Dec. 20, 2013 issue of The Coast Reporter.

Click here to read my related blog article “Not just bars and bravado” and photos.

Travel feature promotes my El Camino workshop

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My feature “Workshop inspired by El Camino pilgrimage” appeared in the Sept. 27, 2013 issue of Coast Reporter on British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast.

The piece promoted my workshop “Twelve Gifts of the Camino,” inspired by my 800-kilometre pilgrimage through France and Spain in May and June 2013.

Click this 12 Gifts of the Camino link to read the article and see the accompanying photo.

Medieval labyrinth a must-see in Chartres Cathedral, France

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Chartres Cathedral in France, a World Heritage site

 

For centuries, the medieval labyrinth in France’s Chartres Cathedral has attracted millions of visitors and Camino de Santiago pilgrims like me. I described my mixed feelings in walking this historic pathway in my travel feature “The wonders of the labyrinth.”

This piece appeared in the Sept. 13, 2013 issue of The Coast Reporter  on B.C.’s Sunshine Coast.

Click on this Chartres labyrinth link to read this feature.

Click here to read an unabridged version of this article, with accompanying photos, on my blog.

Relive my El Camino de Santiago journey through a new blog series

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— Heather Conn photo

 

For the next two to three months, I’ll be writing a series of weekly posts, with photographs, about my 800-kilometre walk along the El Camino in France and Spain. Each week, I’ll feature a new topic, from “creating sacred space” to “the Roman road.”

I look forward to a lively discussion with readers.

If you want to have the latest blog links for this series sent to you, please subscribe to my blog. Save your feet and savour the journey with me online instead.

One month after 9/11: a humanitarian trip to Cuba

With special permission to carry 60 pounds of medical supplies, I set off for Cuba with a group of friends in October 2011. We were delighted to distribute these much-needed materials to small clinics in Cuba’s Trinidad region and to provide clothes and school supplies to local communities.

Click here to read my Cuba Travel Article “From the Coast to Cuba,” which appeared in the Coast Reporter on Nov. 11, 2001.

As part of my course “Photography and Writing in the Digital Age,” I wrote this Travel feature on Trinidad, Cuba in a post-9/11 world, in October 2001. It was used at Pull Focus Film School in Vancouver, BC.

Childbirth in Haiti: A bundle of joy?

I wrote short items to accompany a photo essay of the challenges pregnant women face in Haiti. The piece is meant to increase public awareness of the activities of Doctors Without Borders in Haiti.

These photo-and-caption combinations were part of the content used in my course Photography and Writing for the Digital Age. A photographer and I co-taught students at Pull Focus Film School in Vancouver, in the fall of 2010, how to write compelling web narratives.

Click here to read the article