Every time I take a trip out of Jamaica and fly off to somewhere, it represents a personal conquest. For the entire trip, I sit in planes and airports with an inanely gargantuan grin plastered across my face. And nothing (except maybe gas masks falling in the plane) can get that smile off.
So I'm off again. This time to a close Caribbean neighbour. I've been curious about Cuba for longer than I can say. Maybe especially since high school, when a dramatic influx of Cuban teachers to Jamaica left me with four of eight classes being taught by Cuban natives. Two became instant favourites who have permanent soft spots in my heart. Another - my grade eight form teacher Mrs Douglas - was the subject of a juicy scandal that rocked the school for months after she and her husband disappeared and were declared wanted by police in connection to a work-travel scam that fleeced hundreds of money and personal documents.
Now that I think of it, that's probably not the best backdrop from which to develop a curiosity about a country. I'm not particularly curious about what it feels like to be scammed. But the memory stands out as my earliest encounter with Cubans (and to be honest, at the time, for my little rural high school where nothing ever happened, it was all scandalously scintillating).
Crooks and crookedness aside, there have been Cuban lecturers at university, as well as various doctors and nurses over the years, who have helped to pique my interest in this country. Then there was that course I did on Cuban literature which revolutionised my perspective of El Lider - Fidel Castro, and Che Guevara. I was so engrossed with the history of that country and the way their authors used literature to express their struggles - plus Mr Jo Pereira was a fantastic facilitator - I easily aced that course.
Lately, the urge to go somewhere has kept my feet more in mid-air than on the ground. And then there are friends who've been to Cuba who know I'm possessed by the travel bug; they keep telling me to visit Cuba now, before it changes from a romantic throwback paradise into 'just another modernised developing nation'.
All of that and two weeks of vacation time - and a little extra change in my pocket - have led to this trip. I'm psyched out of my mind. I'm ready for this. And I can't wait to see what secrets Cuba has to tell me. For now, I'll sit in a plane with a permanent Cheshire cat grin waiting to touch down to a new adventure.