Zanzibar Trip Review

Zan. Zi. Bar. WOW, is all I can say. The ocean was so blue and clear that you could see your entire body, including feet from the surface of the water. The sand was so soft and smooth like baby powder. The people were nothing but friendly. Their mango juice was freshly blended every day and had so much more depth to it, with a slight tart flavor. Everyone just seemed at peace. And peace we found, within the island and eventually within ourselves. An island that we thought was small, we found that no amount of time could ever be enough to explore it all. Let me pause this cheeky introduction and dive right into the review. Unless you do want me to continue (which can be arranged for another time haha).

Flight & Accommodation. My brother and I booked our round trip flight from Nairobi to Mombasa to Zanzibar with Fly 540. I had heard about the new airline and from what I remember they had a good rate of about $300 roundtrip. We had no issues on our flights going to Zanzibar which were early morning flights so we can spend most of our day in Zanzibar, which is an island off the coast of Tanzania. However, our flight returning from Mombasa to Nairobi was hell. Our flight was supposed to depart Mombasa at 8:30pm and initially, they informed us of a one-hour delay. However, we never departed Mombasa until like midnight.  This was due to a supposed engineering issue that they handled poorly as they were not even planning for our accommodation if the plane could not get fixed. Also, other passengers suggested that they could have bought us seats on another airline such as Kenya Airways which departed at around 9:30pm. Apparently Fly 540 is like the Spirit Airlines of Kenya so please avoid it if you can.

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In terms of accommodation for our four nights in Paje (Southern Zanzibar), we had paid about $360 total for two double rooms that could house 4 people but only my brother and I ended up going so we paid the same amount for 2 full rooms. We could have probably paid less if we had alerted them earlier about the change. We did end up spending one night in Nungwi since it is the most touristy part of the island. We paid about $80 for one night in one room as hotel rates were more expensive in Nungwi. However, Nungwi is more developed and has many high standard resorts. Paje was more of a homey feel so we actually appreciated it more because it felt like a more genuine experience. Also, we engaged in way more activities in Paje.

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Outdoor activities. On our first day in Paje, my brother played soccer on the beach with some of the local kids and we walked down the beach to see what all the different beachside vendors had to offer. The funniest vendor was the H&M store which had no correlation to the European fashion brand but instead stood for Hakuna Matata store. In Paje, the beach is full of colorful kites as Europeans love to kitesurf there. It was so popular, that you had to book a slot for lessons a day ahead. Therefore, we booked to do this our second to last day. It was a very cool experience but I forgot to wear my sunglasses that day so my brother enjoyed it more as he was better prepared. The full lesson is 9 hours and costs about 300 euros but my brother opted for a one-hour lesson for $35. It did seem like those who paid for the 9 hours were getting their money’s worth. We also went to a butterfly garden where we realized my brother is also much better than me at attracting butterflies. However, our favorite part was getting massages on the beach with some really fragrant coconut oil. For both of us, they were, hands down, the best massages we’ve ever gotten so much so that we fell asleep during the one hour. Nungwi offered horse riding on the beach but we missed their last office hour by trying to watch the sunset. I will say that the sunset was worth it as I also got henna tattoos while sitting on the beach watching day turn into night. Speaking of night, let’s move on to the nightlife.

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Nightlife. We only experienced the nightlife in Paje as we were too tired to go out when we got to Nungwi. Dancing on the beach is always a good change of scenery from smoky clubs. The DJs we experienced in Paje were very well versed in music as they played everything from hip hop to dubstep to local music. My favorite local songs were Hodari by Mbosso and Jibebe by WCB ft Diamond. My brother also made friends with some of our hotel staff who were able to get us into the outdoor bars for the local price instead of the tourist price. I was also lucky that they loved to dance and were really good at it. The bar that my brother loved the most had pool tables as he loved to play pool/billiards. The same bar also had a fire pit and a dance floor that had been dug out of the sand which was really interesting. At both Paje bars, the locals were very well represented as customers whereas Nungwi most customers were white tourists.

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Best Mango Juice Ever!!

Food. There were many different restaurants such as Italian, Thai, and authentic Zanzibar food. In Nungwi, we also found Indian food such as biryani at the resort we stayed at. However, our favorite place to eat was the famous Rock Restaurant. The most interesting thing about the Rock Restaurant is on the beach during low tide and in the water during high tide (water high enough that you have to take a boat to it). My brother and I arrived at the restaurant during high tide during sunset so we got the full experience. The quality of the food is just as extra as the location. I ordered a steak while my brother ordered spicy chicken skewers. Both were delicious and were followed by an even more amazing passion fruit cheesecake. Afterward, we lounged on the balcony while watching the stars. My brother has an app on his phone that identifies the different constellations which is pretty cool. I will say that the Rock Restaurant is quite expensive compared to other places on the island. I think with tip and everything, our bill was about $100 for two people. But despite that, I think it is well worth it as the view, service, and food is impeccable.

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The Rock Restaurant off in the distance

 

People. One thing that sets Zanzibari people about from others is that they understand tourism very well. Therefore, they do not steal or do anything that can jeopardize tourism. In fact, one of our hotel staff would identify the people on the beach who were doing bad business that could negatively impact tourists. They are also very easy going people in that, you cannot rush them to do anything. The stereotypical Tanzania saying is “kama uko na haraka, ungekuja jana” which roughly translates to “if you are in a hurry, you should have come yesterday”. So in that case, always communicate your plans ahead of time so they can be able to help you. For example, on our first or second night, we communicated that we would like to rent a car on our third day so we could travel to Nungwi. The hotel owner was very helpful in securing us a car and helping us get a permit. He was very knowledgeable about the island and was open to negotiation when I insisted on it. For example, the car we rented was on empty when we got it and we naively filled it up only to realize that we only used 25-50% of the fuel for our entire travel. As such, I negotiated that he cut the car rental price by about the same. Amazingly, he agreed and he apologized for the car not being fully fueled upon transfer to us. His staff was also very helpful as mentioned before in getting us local prices and they became like brothers to us. Easily enough, both their names were Abu.

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As you can already tell, my brother and I enjoyed our time in Zanzibar. We will definitely be back one day. If you haven’t checked out my Kenya travel & trip review, please feel free to do so at the following link: Kenya trip. Thanks for reading. 🙂 ❤

5 things I learned from reading “Becoming” by Michelle Obama.

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December 2018

I am not going to lie to you. This book is a very wordy and a long book with a little bit over 400 pages in small print mind you. But I will say that if you have ever been fascinated or inspired by Michelle Obama, then you need to read this book. I learned a lot more about Michelle LaVaughn Obama in terms of her personal life and who she was previous to becoming our first black first lady through this book.

  1. One thing I definitely had never known about Michelle was about her father’s battle with Multiple Sclerosis (M.S.). I am sure she mentioned it on the campaign trail but for some reason it didn’t register until now. I think this is because in the book, you can really see the progression of her father’s battle with M.S. It is a very deep story especially when you consider that her father never lived long enough to see his daughter grow up to be the first black first lady of the United States of America (the same nation in which his descendants were slaves). Her relationship with her mother and brother are also heavily displayed in the book but one thing I am sure many people will appreciate is learning more about her relationship with Barack.
  2. Obviously, we have all seen the love that Michelle and Barack have for each other. We saw this on the campaign trail when they would give each fists bumps, when Barack would whisper in Michelle’s ear, when Barack always opened the door for Michelle, etc. However, many of us wondered how these two got together in the first place. Some of us know that Michelle was Barack’s mentor at his summer internship as a lawyer but beyond that, their love story was a mystery. This book definitely allows us to see what Michelle saw in Barack and the challenges they faced as a couple, especially in the midst of politics. With Barack serving a country as well as his family, their marriage was definitely not easy as it looks but their love story serves as a reminder that lifelong partnership works when two people are unwaveringly committed to each other.
  3. I was thinking to include this point as the last one because it is something I am sure that we are all subconsciously thinking about: how does Michelle Obama feel about Trump? Well, I won’t overshadow this book review with a discussion about Trump but I will say that Michelle definitely makes it clear how she feels about Trump in this book. She doesn’t dwell on it, and rightly so, but she does discuss it. She also answers the million-dollar question of whether she would ever consider running for office.
  4. In addition to being the first black first lady, Michelle was also the mother to the first black children to live in the white house. Motherhood is a job to which many are called but I think we can all agree that Michelle did a wonderful job with Sasha and Malia. Malia is now a college student at Harvard and Sasha will probably follow in similar footsteps. Growing up in South Side Chicago, I am sure Michelle never thought she’ll be the first black first lady of the United States. In fact, readers will learn that her childhood dream to be a lawyer did not turn out being such a good fit for her. This is why the book is entitled Becoming as it is about her natural progression and evolution as another human on this earth seeking to live a fulfilling life.
  5. As the first lady, Michelle could have sat down and decided to just look pretty. Instead, she chose to carve out her own goals and initiatives for the country. She was passionate about attending to military families and to the growing rates of childhood obesity. Her book has the statistics on what an impressive impact she made on these issues so I will let you look into the numbers on your own. I will say that numbers aside, I felt the effects of her Let’s Move! Campaign when I watched Nickelodeon and there would be reminders to go outside for an hour of play. I also felt the diet changes in the public school I went to as whole wheat replaced refined flour. I may be mistaken but I believe there was a time that chocolate milk was not served at school. I loved my chocolate milk but hey I am all for it if decreasing childhood obesity can decrease the lifestyle diseases I see working as a healthcare professional.

I could easily tell you the answers to most of the questions about Michelle but I do not want to ruin the book for anyone. Another token of advice from me would also be to avoid watching all the book interviews she’s conducted so far as it kind of gives the story away. Save those interviews for when you are done reading the book. Trust me. I did not heed this advice and I think this is the reason why I would lose interest in the book at some points. It is a well-constructed, well written, and a well-deserved success story by Michelle LaVaughn Obama. I hope you enjoy it and most of all, learn something from it. Thanks for reading.

5 things learned from watching “This is Us” (no spoilers)

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Dec 2018

I first started watching This is Us while I was in Boston Spring 2017. The show actually started September 2016 but I am always fashionably late to watching shows which allows me to watch the show at my own pace. I am actually not all caught up with the current season so please don’t ruin it for me. To say the least, “This is Us” is a tear jerker and “aww-inducing” kind of show filled with family tragedies and milestones. It is very real and the cinematography of life in the 70s, 80s, and the current day is very spot on. The show centers around a family of 5 known as the Pearson’s, which consists of 2 boys, a girl, and a set of heterosexual parents. Sounds pretty normal except that one of the boys is adopted and black in race while the rest of the family is white. Furthermore, their father dies when the kids are teenagers which sets the course of the rest of their lives. Based on the fact that they all idolize their father, he plays a great role in the lives despite his death. Therefore, the show is filled with drama and heart-wrenching moments of seeing how their story unfolds with different coping mechanisms and challenges. But despite all this drama, there is a lot to learn from the “This is Us” story.

  1. Family should always come first. Treat your siblings well. Treat your parents even better because, at the end of the day, they are the people who will come running to help you in moments of trouble. I can honestly say that my brothers are in my top 3 of best friends in this world because they know me very well. We have a lot of inside jokes and lots of memories together since we’re all so close in age. I jokingly said to my little brother this week that we have to buy houses right next to each other for those moments when we have some “tea to spill.” I’ll also probably need him to set up my TV in the house lol.
  2. Everyone deals with loss differently so don’t judge people for how slowly they recover or if they never recover because both are very likely to happen. Some people find comfort in substances of abuse, others in food, and others in finding something they can control. This is why I think therapy is so important when facing a tragedy in your life. Talking to a therapist can really help you face your emotions instead of drowning them.
  3. Adoption can be a very beautiful thing especially if the child becomes part of a new family shortly after being born. Ever since I was a teenager, I have been interested in adopting children one day especially children from disenfranchised parts of Africa. I still haven’t decided if I want to open an orphanage or just adopt a few children but I do think the former option might be more impactful.
  4. When we have a dream career and something happens to make that dream pretty much impossible, pick up the pieces and try something different. I really honestly believe that we all have so many different potentials for our life. For example, I am currently in the medical field which I am very passionate about but I am also passionate about fashion, politics, and business. So like that good old saying, never put all your eggs in one basket.
  5. The person you marry has a very monumental impact on your life, always handle that decision with great care. Yes, we all have feelings of passion towards certain people but you should also think about how that person handles challenges. Because life will definitely throw challenges at you. This has been evident throughout the test of time.

Thank you for reading. What are you watching right now and what have you learned from it? Hopefully not to kill thousands of people in efforts of gaining power for your family like Game of Thrones. 🙂 ❤

5 things that I am grateful for

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November 2018
  1. My family. I love being back at home and enjoying the company of my family, including the new additions such as my niece. I’ve been home for everyone’s birthday this year and it feels good to not have missed a beat like before when I was in school in Boston.
  2. My friends. This year I have met a number of new people that have been so generous with their love and time. I do not take it for granted as it restores my faith in humanity. Also, I am always grateful for old friendships that have continued despite the test of time.
  3. My hobbies. I heard someone at work say “we work so we can afford our hobbies.” I have to agree this is true for me because some of my hobbies are actually quite expensive such as tennis, kickboxing, and eating delicious food. However, I will say there are certain hobbies that can be as cheap as buying a pencil such as writing and drawing which I also do enjoy.
  4. My work. Without my job, it would be hard for me to afford the material things that I need/want. The key word is material because money can’t buy peace, love, or happiness. I am also grateful that I find my job fulfilling by helping to save lives. I have also been volunteering my time to high schools and a tutoring program so I am happy that my work schedule allows for that.
  5. My blog. I love that I have created this outlet for my creativity and that it has received so much support from all of you who frequent this space. I am grateful to have such an opportunity and do intend on sharing my creativity even more.

Thank you all for reading. Please feel free to share your gratitude list. 🙂  ❤

5 tips for buying a car

 

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July 2012

I would like to start this post by saying I am not a car expert by any means but I’ve been involved in two car purchases within the last year (keyword: involved). I also love shopping in general especially when you know exactly what you want and where to get it. My brothers and dad know way more about cars than I do so I consulted them about my top choices when I bought my car. Here are the top 5 tips that really helped in securing the car that I wanted.

  1. Ask around especially to people who have a similar car to the one that you want. Not only can they give you insight about the car but they can also probably recommend a good car salesman from where they bought their car. My mom was actually my referral for the car that I bought so she ended up getting a referral reward and was really good at talking the salesman down on the price as she knows him pretty well.
  2. This was also when I discovered that my mom is actually pretty good at math (even though we usually went to my dad for math homework help. My mom’s side of the family does have a lot of accountants though so this is probably why she’s good at haggling/negotiation math. If I told you how much money she saved us on a limited edition car, you probably wouldn’t believe it. So if you have access to someone who knows how to play with business numbers really well, you should definitely bring that person with you when you are buying a car.
  3. Car fax. If you are in North America, there’s a website and app called car fax where you can look at different cars and it tells you their price as well as their features. This is a way to do really good research because you already know the price range for the car you want before you even step into the dealership. You can also buy cars through carfax from dealerships and other individuals selling cars. If you’re in a different car, you can definitely visit different dealerships and figure out the price range that way. The beauty of carfax though is that it also tells you the history of the car in terms of ownership and accidents. For example, my car was a dealership car for dropping customers off when their cars were being serviced. Therefore, my car basically didn’t have a real owner and the miles/kilometers driven on the car were really low.
  4. Car buying season. If you can avoid it, don’t buy a car after tax season or around the holidays. This is because a lot of people have money to buy cars during this time. Therefore, car dealers are usually not willing to negotiate as much because there’s a large demand. The best time to buy a car would probably be in the middle of the year between May and October.
  5. Car features. My quote on cars among many things is “once you go high, you never want to go low” (sorry I kind of stole your line, Michelle Obama). My car is an SUV and I really find compact cars to not be as comfortable to drive now. I also find that the sun doesn’t hit you as much in a high car. But of course, there are a lot of good-looking compact cars so it just depends what floats your boat ehem car. Also, I really like other features that my car has: seat warmers, sunroof, blindside navigation, lane detection assistance, Bluetooth calling, very good fuel economy, etc.

I will say if you are accident prone that blindside navigation really helps and has saved me from getting hit or hitting other people so it is the MVP of my car’s features. I wish you the best of luck in buying a car when that time comes for you. 🙂 ❤

 

5 benefits of being close to your siblings

 

1. No one can call you out like a person that shared the same womb you came from. Your siblings have seen you at your worst and best while growing up so they usually know you a lot better than most people. When you think you’re untouchable, nobody brings you back down to earth better than a sibling calling you by a silly nickname that you had back in the day.
2. On the same note, your siblings usually know your true potential and can push you when you are second guessing yourself. My brothers and I gas each other up with compliments as quick as we are to make fun of each other. For example, we all know my younger brother has the best legs in the family, somehow I have the best brains, and my older brother just eludes a cool self-confidence that can only be countered by Idris Elba himself (I sometimes think they kind of look alike too but that’s just me).
3. They can be key players in choosing the person you spend the rest of your life with. Studies show that we usually model our desires in a partner based on our experiences with our family. So having to spend most of our lives with a sibling that sometimes gets on our nerves is actually good practice for the partner you’ll be spending the rest of your life with.
4. Entertainment! My younger brother is truly an entertainer and growing up with him definitely led to a lot of laughs from his pretty on-point impersonations and “inside jokes” type humor. For example, when we at the Essence Festival last weekend he saw a guy trying to hit on a girl and my brother immediately whispered “le soif” which is French for “the thirst”. This was an inside joke from way back when there was a thirsty guy at this Kenyan party we were at and we had to speak French so no one could understand us.
5. Lifelong side-kicks! No matter how deep I am in some mess, I always know that my brothers have my back and similarly I have theirs. I honestly couldn’t imagine life without my brothers and I pray that we may grow old together!

As a last thought, I have never known how it would be to have a sister as I am an only girl. But I am really not good at sharing so I am kind of glad it worked out that way. My mom looks young enough to be my sister and now I have a sister in love (not law, as we say in my household to describe marital family). I also have a little niece and based on my baby face I could probably pass as her sister too so I guess God knew what he was doing by only giving me brothers! 🙂 ❤