What does an island alarm clock sound like?

It is no other than a vociferous cock-a-doodle-doo or if in Cuba ki-kiri-ki. Some people take this as an annoying sound and disturbance of sleep. However, after just returning from a trip to Cuba and on my way to another island known for its roosters, Kauai, I thought that I should share the wisdom that I recently learned from Jose Fuster.

Fuster is a world renowned Cuban artist who lives in Havana, Cuba. His ceramics and paintings have a unique playful feel drawing from images of the tropical Caribbean. Often times, he is compared to Spanish artists such Gaudi and Picasso. Personally, I think he is a hybrid of the two with Cuban sabor (flavor or flare).

Over several months of travel to Cuba, I have had the opportunity to tour his home numerous times. He says it is a work of art in progress as he has been working on it for over 18 years. And, like all things buzzworthy, his art has gone viral into his surrounding neighborhood, Jaimanitas. Every street corner, road sign, and neighbor’s entrance is graced with Fuster’s one-of-a-kind ceramic mosaics and painted tile work. Check out the quick video of his home below.

Through my visits and conversations with Fuster and his family, I asked about a recurring symbol that I witnessed in his work, El Gallo or the Rooster. He explained that he uses the rooster as if it is his signature. He said to me on one of my visits that he cherishes the sound of a rooster. He says that when he hears the morning crowing of a rooster he is blessed with yet another day.

When I heard his spin on what most would call a loud, shrilling cry of a rooster, I reflected on how truly right he is. Celebrating life each and every day or YOLO (You Only Live Once) is something extremely crucial to a happy life that often times falls by the wayside in the time-pressed, daily grind.

As a sad coincidence, on our last visit to Cuba, my fellow travelers and I were witness to a very bad accident where a van was turned on its side next to a second car, which was severely damaged and atop of the third vehicle, a destroyed moped. So quickly after leaving Fuster’s house were we impacted by his wisdom with the sight of the accident; life is short and so very precious. So, enjoy every single cock-a-doodle-doo or ki-kiri-ki that you can while you are here.

On a more personal note, it is an honor to share this story with you on Look Up Day, which is celebrated today and every 27th. Over 3 years ago, I created Look Up Day to remind myself of a lesson I learned from an accident in 2009. It is a day that serves to remind us all to be aware of our surroundings and positively spin each situation just as Fuster has with his take on the rooster. Happy Look Up Day and bring on more cock-a-doodle-dooooos!

Please share your thoughts, comments, and related stories below. And, as always, stay up-to-date on more travel stories from Kauai, Cuba, and other destinations by connecting with me on FacebookTwitter, Google+, and YouTube.

Here’s to more good times and good stories.