Kenya Trip Review

First, I want to start by saying that I have been fortunate enough to never experience danger or terror throughout all my travels to Kenya. The most recent terror attack at DusitD2 Hotel Complex in Westlands, Nairobi occurred just a few days after I came back to the U.S. from Kenya. It came as a shock to me and so many others as security has really been beefed up throughout the years. Literally, there are guards almost everywhere doing body and bag scans so it is hard to understand how this happened. But despite this, Kenya will still continue to rise. I have witnessed so much growth in Kenya in better roads, a ban on plastic bags, and even the introduction of Uber that makes me proud to be a Kenyan. Without further ado, let me highlight my activities in Kenya.

Flight & Accommodation. I won’t lie to you; Kenya is a somewhat expensive country but you can always make it with good budgeting. The greatest expense is the flight especially if traveling from the U.S. My mom bought her ticket like 10 months in advance and got it for about $1200. The rest of us bought ours later and ended up paying $400-$600 more than her (Ouch, yeah that hurts to say). So book early and consider KLM, Lufthansa, Emirates, or Air France. British Airways is usually much more expensive. If you are going with a big group, consider renting a villa, cottage, or house instead of individual hotel rooms.  My family rented an apartment where one of our friends and family stays so we were in close proximity for them to help us if needed. There is Airbnb in Kenya and can be searched at the following link: https://www.airbnb.com/s/Kenya

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Safari/Wildlife. Most people go to Safari in the Masaai Mara in Southwestern Kenya but the country is blessed with great biodiversity so there are actually several places to see animals. My mom went to Tsavo which is much more south closer to the coast of Kenya. As a family, we all went on safari in Nyanyuki which is in Central Kenya (In fact, the Ol Pejeta Conversancy we explored is right on the equator line) and we saw quite a number of animals such as Elephants, Zebra, Buffalo, Antelopes, Rhinos, and Warthog. We also got to see and feed giraffes at the Giraffe Center in Nairobi. The Masaai Mara is the most famous because it is where the great migration of wildebeest occurs every year and it is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. I speculate it is more expensive to do a Safari trip in the Masaai Mara due to the high volume of tourists so please consider the other Safari options in the country as well.

 

Nightlife. We did not have much to go clubbing in Kenya because of a lot of early mornings traveling but we made sure to try a few places out. Kizza Lounge and B-club in Kilimani were recommended by a fellow passenger at the airport. Kizza Lounge had a very good DJ and mature clientele but people were not dancing that much. B-club was pretty much empty when we checked it out but it was very fancy. The music was also more for a European clientele. As such, we escaped to J’s Fresh Bar in Westlands which had very good music and a dance floor. However, the majority of the crowd was high school to college age. The following night we tried a club known as Memphis which is frequented by a lot of students of the United States International University of Africa. The music was very top notch and the place was fully packed. We could have spent the entire night there but wanted to check out Brew Bistro in Westlands. Apparently, Brew Bistro has a policy of not allowing people less than 25 years of age so we were not able to enter as my younger cousin is still in his early 20s. As such, we took a short walk to the 40Forty lounge which has no affiliation with those owned by Jay-Z in the U.S. It has a very beautiful view due to the fact that it is on the 9th floor but their elevator was down so we had to walk up 8 flights of stairs to get there. Luckily, it was worth it as the DJ was on fire with his music selections: as always my club personal favorite is “Hips Don’t Lie” by Shakira and Wyclef Jean. The cool thing about 40Forty Lounge it is essentially, a fancy sports lounge. The place has huge TVs everywhere so if your boy wants to watch a game but you want to dance, you can both be happy. Kenya has a lot more Clubs, my usual favorite is K1 KlubHouse in Westlands but I decided to try new places this time. As previously mentioned, Kenya has Uber so need to worry about transport at night. If you have a big group, consider using the Taxify app as Uber in Kenya does not currently offer Uber XL but Taxify has XL options to accommodate a big group.img-20190120-wa0000img-20190120-wa0001

Food. Kenya has a lot of food chains now including KFC, Subway, Domino’s Pizza, and Burger King. However, I am sure you would love to try more authentic Kenyan Food. If so, you have to try a local Barbeque (Nyama Choma) joint which are all over Kenya. If you want to try different meats like crocodile, bull balls, and ostrich, then you should head over to Carnivore Restaurant on Langata road. The buffet fee is kind of expensive at $36 per person but I think it is worth it as it also includes soup, salad, and dessert.0110191918c

Wananchi (Kenyan Citizens). It is always nice to hang out with people who I grew up with in Kenya (both family and friends). It sometimes gives me insight to what my life would be like if my family never moved to the U.S. And to be very honest, most of our family friends are doing very well for themselves so if that is an indication, then we would have been alright too. I also like to observe new trends like hair and fashion. This time around I noticed that almost everyone in Kenya is wearing Crocs (off-brand) around the house. For example, you go to someone’s house and instead of giving you sandals to wear like before, they give you crocs. Also, people in Kenya love spending time at malls and there are so many of them now. Most of these malls are multi-level and have grocery stores so it can be a one-stop shop kind of place. I almost bought a $100 fake Louis Vitton and then realized I could probably get a cheaper one from eBay. Moral of the story is, always know the conversion from your currency so you don’t buy something super expensive as compared to your country. The photo below was taken when my family visited the school my brothers and I attended prior to leaving Kenya. img-20190103-wa0016

And with that, I can’t wait to visit the next time to see what changes. Thank you for reading. I hope this inspired you to visit Kenya. If you are interested in traveling within East Africa, then you should also consider checking out the island of Zanzibar, which I cover in the following post: Zanzibar Trip Review 🙂  ❤

5 Gift Ideas for the Holiday Season

holiday season pic
December 2018

The larger a family grows, the more gifts there are to buy. I think I’ve bought at least 10 gifts for my niece this year. When I travel, I have to buy her something because that’s what you do for babies. I also try to buy ” I saw this and thought of you” gifts for my family every once in a while. For example, this Friday I went to TJ Maxx to buy a gift for my new nephew and saw a yoga mat that reminded me of my mom. So what did I do? I bought two yoga mats, one for me and one for my mom so that we can do yoga at home together.  I’ve not always been so thoughtful in buying gifts so here is a list of things that are wonderful gift ideas to help in this giving season.

  1. Pajamas. Socks are probably the go-to for most people but just as a person can not have enough socks, a person can never have enough pajamas. Personally, I think pajamas are also a bit more thoughtful than socks.  I just bought myself a summer pajama set because I will be in a warm country for vacation soon. I also bought myself a red with green lines as a holiday set for the winter and because it reminded me of these flannel pajamas I wore when I was a kid in my first year living in the U.S. Enough about me but the lesson here is that if your gift can evoke nostalgia then you are on the right track.
  2.  Wallet. Both women and men need a change up in their “coin purse” every now and then. I know I could definitely use a new wallet * wink* wink* and would love not to spend my own money buying something to put my money in. And most of us ladies, love matching our bag with our wallet so it wouldn’t hurt to have one in every color.
  3. Framed photos or art. If you don’t have a lot of money available for gift giving, photos or art are very low-cost options. Obviously, you want to pick either a photo of the person or a photo of you with the person.  If you’re going to make some art for the person, think of what would go well with their house or persona.
  4. Sports or hobby-related gifts. Almost everyone has a hobby or sport they like to play. Hobbies as I alluded to in my previous post, can be sometimes expensive. Therefore, any money spent on supporting a person’s hobby is usually well appreciated. If they are into sports, sports clothing can be a good idea. If they are into a hobby like art, for example, buying tools such as paint brushes would also be very useful.
  5. A gift card, only if it is specifically for something that they like. Please don’t buy a VISA gift card with money on it cause that is not as thoughtful as buying one for a specific thing. One year, I remember buying my best friend a gift card to a restaurant that she frequented very often and she told me that she got quite a number of meals out of it. I have also gotten gift cards towards massages for some of my family before and they have been appreciated. Some people think getting gift cards for people is being lazy but it can be one of the most useful gifts in my opinion. The key is to get one for something that person really really likes.

I hope these suggestions help you in your gift hunting this season. But please don’t forget that the reason for the season is love, not gifts 🙂 ❤

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. 🙂  ❤

Houston trip review

They say everything is bigger in Texas and that definitely holds true even for the food. My best friend is Vietnamese so she oriented to the best place for pho (soup). I have had plenty of pho in my life but this was on another level as it was served with a bone full of bone marrow. One thing that is also big in Houston is the graffiti which I totally had to pose with throughout the trip.

Secondly, the events were popping that weekend. On Friday, we attended an African fashion show held on a hotel rooftop which was very cool. As expected, those in attendance were dressed to the max and I did my best to do the same. As part of the show, different well dressed were nominated from the show (including myself). Surprisingly, I actually won best dressed. Thank you mom and dad for good taste lol.

On Saturday, we enjoyed some wonderful South African food from a restaurant in Houston known as Peli Peli in the Galleria mall. I love lamb and the lamb did not disappoint although the portions were small. Apparently, the portions are bigger for dinner as compared to lunch which is what we had opted for. They also have a wonderful chicken liver dish which was surprisingly tender and juicy. Afterwards, we joined my best friend’s coworkers for a bicycle bar hopping event which was basically a bar crawl except you ride bikes to and from each bar. We were fashionably late mainly due to me so we met everyone at the final bar which is a baseball themed bar called Eighth wonder which had fun games like corn hole and several food trucks to peruse from. We chose to try some pulled pork ribs with fries and jalapenos that were actually quite a hit (Pictured below). To close the night, we opted for Korean Karaoke which is much easier than normal karaoke because you get a private room for you and your group instead of having to sing in front of random strangers. A fun night of belting the wrong notes was had, so much so that I low key lost my voice for a bit.

On the final day of the trip, Sunday, we had tacos for breakfast and actually went to church. The church was a very progressive church and the sermon series was about science and religion. As such, they held a panel that Sunday with different church members that work in the scientific field. They had an online forum where those in attendance could send questions for the panelists to answer which was very cool. Afterwards, I had a while before my flight so we decided to venture into Ikea as I had never been there before despite the fact that Boston has Ikea as well. I was pleasantly surprised that most of the furniture there is actually very affordable and very functional.

This was actually my second trip to Houston. Last time, I was there was 2016 and I hope it won’t take me 2 years to make another trip there. Thanks for reading. 🙂 ❤

New Olreans ft Essence fest trip

I am a visual person so the best way to show someone New Orleans is through an in-person tour or in pictures. My brother and I went on Saturday for Essence Fest and intended on coming back that same night. However, New Orleans has some magic and a family friend of ours who was there for a girls trip invited us to join them that night. Eventually, it was too late to go home so we crashed at their beautiful air bnb and did leave until Sunday evening. I didn’t take any pictures at the concert because my phone was dying but just to break it down for you: Missy Elliot, Queen Latifah, Salt and Pepa, Brandy, Xscape, and Mary J. Blige all had really awesome performances. Without further ado, let’s get to the photos.

Food:

 

Day Activities : click arrow for next picture in slideshow

 

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Art:

 

Let me just say that the food in New Orleans never disappoints. Definitely, a must visit place if you’re ever in the Gulf Coast area of the U.SA. And yes I do believe in magic….New Orleans magic 🙂 ❤

5 things my niece has taught me about motherhood

Mwende drawing
My niece and I , February 2018
  1. Children know how to read vibes. This is especially true about my niece who doesn’t allow just anyone to hold her. She has to get to know you first and see you around several times before becoming comfortable around you.
  2. True happiness is seeing a child squeal with excitement upon you walking through the door. My niece and I sometimes do this squealing match where I make a sound and she matches it with the same or even more excitement.
  3. Seeing a child sick is the most saddening thing to watch. Whether the child is coughing or high with fever, you just hope that what you do is enough to make her feel better. This is especially true when the child is not old enough to talk to communicate how she feels.
  4. When you fall down in life, clean yourself up and get back up again. My niece rounds around all day and falls on the ground at least once a day. Even if she cries, she’ll still be up and running within a few minutes. I hope she keeps this same energy throughout the years.
  5. Love is the greatest thing you could ever give someone. Throughout her few years of life, I am given my niece several gifts but i’ve noticed that the gift she enjoys the most is my presence. When I don’t see her for a while, I feel guilty. When I leave her without spending a lot of time with her, I can somehow see disappointment in her eyes. So now I make it a point to see her at least three times a week since she lives so close to me.