Free Africa, Cuba travel films in Kapaa

KAPAA — Kauai resident and world traveler Gabriela Taylor will show two films that she shot and edited, 7 p.m. Thursday at the Kapaa library.

The movies are “Southern Africa: Survival and Hope” and “Cuba: Sex, Salsa, and Sixty Shades of Tan.”

“Southern Africa: Survival and Hope”

Taylor joined a three-week safari, camping in game parks in South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe, where campers were warned not to leave the tent at night if they saw a pair of eyes glowing in the dark. With plenty of opportunities to view spectacular herds of animals from the safety of an open truck on game drives, she was thrilled to observe elephants, zebra, kudu, giraffe, wildebeest, hippos, rhinos, baboons, cape buffalo, hyenas, warthogs, lions and many more — up close.

The sad side of this journey was facing the reality that these beautiful animals continue to be slaughtered by the thousands every year. Poachers use AK-47 rifles to kill elephants for their ivory as well as rhinos for their horns and snare traps for smaller animals. Human poverty and hunger are dominant in these countries where climate change makes it even harder to grow enough food for the burgeoning population.

“Cuba: Sex, Salsa, and Sixty Shades of Tan”

Having studied salsa her first day in Havana and traveling alone, Taylor danced her way across the length of Cuba.

A fun journey, it was also historical. She learned about U.S. involvement with Cuba by visiting historical sights such as the Bay of Pigs and the iconic Hotel National where the U.S. mafia-owned casinos wheeled and dealed until Castro led the revolution that kicked Americans of Cuba in 1959.

“The small towns: Trinidad, Baracoa and Vinales were my favorite places,” said Taylor, who stayed in bed-and-breakfasts and found the ambiance calmer, cleaner and friendlier than Havana.

“I preferred to travel by bus for long trips, then bike and walk around these charming country towns where they grew coffee, cacao and tobacco, among other crops,” she said. “And to top it off, salsa bands played every night.”

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