How to ENRICH your LIFE: La Joie de Vivre

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In summer of 2012, I interned at the Institute of Primate Research in Nairobi, Kenya where they conduct very groundbreaking research especially on tropical diseases (and before you ask, yes they conduct ethically sound research that follows World of Health Animal Research Protocols). My favorite part of the internship was the enrichment project where select staff, such as myself, played with the monkeys, chimps, and other primates for at least an hour a day. This enrichment project was created under the reason that the primates should still have a life with some daily fun even though they were being used for research. I was reflecting upon this experience recently and I realized that even humans are primates so we have to remember to always create some joy in our lives. The word enrichment is befitting because it enhances the value and quality of our lives. Another phrase that I love is “la joie de vivre” which is French for “joy of life”.

I personally find my joie de vivre in three things: art, food, and music. I just recently had a quick vacation to Houston that encompassed those three things so let me highlight them below in picture format.

ART (all pictures taken at Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX)

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FOOD

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The Savoy Restaurant is definitely a must-visit spot for Indo-Pakistani food. At the bottom left of the photo, you can see green specks in the naan which are cilantro and Jalapeno peppers. As such, this naan is called “the bullet” naan. This was my first time having it and now I am obsessed. Also, tried goat brain masala which was better than one could expect. My favorite, of course, was the goat biryani.

MUSIC

The main person that inspired my recent trip to Houston is Lauryn Hill as she had a concert lined up on Thursday, May the 9th. Despite bad weather and flash flood warning, we showed up and luckily, she did too. Her performance was amazing and she delivered considering 20 plus years have passed since the release of her album, The MisEducation of Lauryn Hill. Her guitarists and backup singers were on point too. Please watch the clip below for a morsel of her performance.

 

I hope you enjoyed this post and that you take time to reflect on how you can or will continue to ENRICH your LIFE. Thanks for reading 🙂 ❤

Love like a gangsta ft Nipsey and Lauren London

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Photo from GQ-magazine Feb’19. Shot by Awol Erizku

If there is anything I have learned from rap songs, it is that “there’s nothing like hood love”. That Nelly and Kelly Rowland “Dilemma” kind of love. That 50 Cent “21 questions” kind of love. And to throw it way back, that Bonnie and Clyde kind of love. Now to bring it way to the front, that Nipsey Hussle (Ermias Asghedom) and New-New (Lauren London) kind of love.

           At first look, Nipsey was an intimidating looking kind of guy with his tall frame and face tattoos but we now all know, that he had a heart of gold. Lauren London (best known for her performance as New-New in the movie ATL) dated many of the richest rappers in the game such as Lil Wayne and even had his child. However, she found true love with Nipsey. Why? Because like she said in her speech at his funeral, she did not have to wear her “cool girl mask” anymore with Nipsey. Nipsey was her “turn up and her church”. He was not “perfect” and she would never ask him to be.  He was and still is “the coolest guy ever” to her. “His soul was majestic.” He was a “gentle father” and a “patient leader.”  These are all direct quotes from her beautiful speech at his funeral where she shared a text message that she wrote to him during January of this year while she was watching him sleep. Clearly, Lauren knew what she had found with Nipsey was truly special and I am sure Nipsey made her feel special as no woman would talk like that about a man that mistreats her. I repeat her “turn up and her church.” Many guys can fall into that “turn up” category but very few can be your “church.” That is a spiritual connection which is “beyond this earth”.

            Based on her and Nipsey’s spirituality, Lauren is probably better equipped to handle what has happened to her and her family. In her speech, she shared how Nipsey taught her that “you cannot possess people, you experience them.” The few years she got to experience him will last her a lifetime and maybe beyond that. Furthermore, he had told her that “the game is gonna test you, never fold.” “Stay ten toes down.” “It is not on you, it is in you and what is in you, they cannot take away.” I don’t know about y’all, but her speech gave me life and her strength was the real definition of “gangsta.” Even though the perpetrator of his death took Nipsey’s life, the love he shared with Lauren and his family can never be taken away. In fact, she shared that her greatest sadness is realizing that their 2-year-old son is “probably too young to remember how much his dad loved him”.

            I hope we may all experience such “gangsta love”. Not gangsta in regards to being in a gang or involved in crime (in the traditional sense of the word), but gangsta in how fiercely we protect it.  No side chicks have popped up from the woodworks stating that they were with Nipsey because he was all about Lauren. He was faithful, loyal, and most of all, he financially protected his family so that they would not have to starve without him. Instead of flashing his money for all the world to see on cars and other depreciating expenses, he invested in his community and educated people about financial literacy. As Lauren says, “he was brilliant” and the world is at a loss for such a man. One of Nipsey’s face tattoos says “PROLIFIC” and I had to google exactly what that word means: “producing much fruit or foliage or many offspring.” I believe that based on Nipsey’s hustle alone, his investments will continue to bear fruit for his community. His love, on the other hand, is limitless as it has even inspired people like me who are not a part of his direct community. Maybe we all get to experience this gangsta type of love in this lifetime and those to follow. As Lauren said, “the marathon continues.”

Boston Review: Resident & Tourist view

 

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March 2019

Some of you may know that I spent a little over half a decade (six years) in Boston, Massachusetts. So this is a review where I can delve both into being a resident and a tourist of the city. My first trip to Boston was in 2010 with my mom before the start of my senior year of high school to look at different universities in the area (Harvard, MIT, Boston University, and my alma mater of Northeastern University). The one campus that truly captured my eye and heart was Northeastern’s as it was right in the heart of Boston but still managed to be centralized; so you could feel like you were in your own world and still be in the mix of the city within less than a 5-minute walk.   I liked being in a worldly diverse school with students from all over the map and being in a city where all these cultures participated, especially in food.

Food. My favorite restaurant in Boston is actually a Senegalese restaurant called Teranga. It is a small place with a cozy vibe as the owner is super friendly and makes sure to talk to every table when he is around. One of my favorite quotes of his is “We are all African” which actually describes my experience in Boston because I made friends with Africans from other countries such as Nigeria and Somalia. I also loved the Boston Shawarma restaurant that I was on Huntington Avenue where my alma mater is located. I also loved eating really delicious Vietnamese soup called pho (thanks to my best friend’s mom for introducing this to me as her homemade pho is still the best in my book) at a restaurant called Pho & I which was also down the street from my school. I also loved samosas and biryani from an Indian restaurant called the Dosa Factory (I actually gave them my email one time to be contacted in case they were hiring). The China town in Boston is actually pretty legitimate and has very authentic Chinese food (sometimes so authentic that it doesn’t match your palette depending on which restaurant you frequent). My favorite is Gourmet Dumpling House which has a really nice pancake dish and obviously amazing dumplings. For brunch though, my favorite restaurant is Darryl’s Corner Bar and Kitchen which has a soul/jazzy vibe with live music and a buffet brunch option. On my recent one-day trip to Boston, I actually did not eat out as my friend cooked shrimp & chicken Jollof for me which filled me up for the whole day (see picture below). It was actually the best Jollof I’ve ever had so shout out to Chef Ola.

 

 

Tourist Attractions. A lot of films are actually filmed in Boston so you should already know that it is beautiful (especially in the summer because snow can become a pain after a while). My favorite spot is the Boston Gardens which are right at the end of Newbury St where you can shop from various high-end stores like Gucci and even low-end stores like Forever 21. My friend and I went there to chill before heading to Macy’s which is within walking distance. We actually ended up climbing a tree together (mainly him climbing the tree and helping me up). After Macy’s, we went to the Charles River Esplanade which is another tourist attraction where you can watch sailboat races or just a beautiful sunset. There is also a little park by the banks of the river which I love to visit from time to time mainly for the monkey bars where I like to hang upside down like the primate that I am (every so often I like to do this just to make sure that I haven’t lost this skill yet haha). If you want a great view of Boston (no upside hanging involved), the Top of the Hub Restaurant which is at the top of the Prudential Building (also known as The Pru) is a great place to go especially during a clear day. If you are a museum enthusiast like myself, both the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) and the Isabella Stewart Gardner (ISG) Museum are a must-see.

Nightlife. One of my favorite places to chill and listen to good music is the W Hotel in Boston. It never disappoints and the African City party this year was held in the hotel so I was excited to attend. My friend and I got there an hour and a half late but the party still had not started. When it did start around an hour later, it was actually a great party with a great DJ playing music from all over Africa (not just Nigerian and Ghanaian music). When he played Yvonne Chaka Chaka’s Umqombothi song that was when I knew he was the real deal. Unfortunately, clubs and bars close at 2am in Boston as it was/still is a Puritan city. This used to really frustrate me when I was in college but now that I am old, sleep is life so I do not mind the 2am curfew at all. Most of the time people have house parties afterward so there are ways to work around it which brings me to my next topic about accommodation.

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Travel & Accommodation. I won’t even try to sugarcoat it; Boston can be a little bit racist (I even talked to a white person who lived in Boston who stated this). I will say that I did experience some racism when trying to secure an Airbnb during my last year of school. For example, some prospective hosts will not even message you back based on skin color or will pretend that the dates are actually booked when they are not. Therefore, a hotel is probably the best option if you have a short stay (I guess unless you get lucky with Airbnb). If you are planning to stay in Boston long term, do bear in mind that rent is pretty expensive. You can live further out of the city for cheaper accommodation but if you do not have a car, the commute can be long by train or bus. I chose to stay close to campus because my major required long nights at the library and I wanted to be safe going home. Also, commuting during the winter can be hell with snow covered streets. In general, buy good shoes because the city of Boston requires a lot of walking and if you are a lady, the cobblestone will most likely ruin your stilettos. But one thing that makes Boston stand out from the rest is that it is a very clean city, your shoes will probably still be squeaky clean at the end of the day.

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New York City Trip Review

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March 2019, Brooklyn Bridge

I would like to start by sharing a quote that I read on a billboard while walking around New York City that stated that “NYC is like a pretty woman smoking a cigar”. It is kind of rough around the edges and definitely not everyone can survive living there. But they also say “if you can make it in NYC, you can make it everywhere”. I am fortunate to say that I have two friends who I grew up with in Alabama who are making it in NYC and I enjoyed hanging out with them. This was not my first time in NYC but 2015 was the last time I was there so a trip was long overdue. My review of the city starts with a food review because NYC is truly a melting pot where you can find cuisine from all over the world.

Food. I have never had a bad meal in NYC. This time around I was mostly looking forward to trying Peruvian food because my best friend is always talking about it. So when I saw a Peruvian restaurant in Queens called Jora, I was excited to try it out. My best friend recommended Ceviche which is raw seafood marinated with lime and onions. I am not a fan of raw fish, to be honest, but they also served a complimentary snack of banana chips with avocado/lime sauce which was so delicious that I have to try to recreate it at home. My friend also took me to a Greek restaurant called Taverna Kyclades which was great for me because I had been craving calamari that week. With calamari as the appetizer, I ordered lamb chops and lemon potatoes. The food was decent but my friend claims that the Taverna Kyclades in Queens is better than the one we went to. The best restaurant we experienced was Soco in Brooklyn which is black-owned and soul food/creole inspired. I had previously frequented this restaurant in 2015 with some college friends for brunch and I loved their fried chicken with red velvet waffles. Yes! Red Velvet waffles! My friend ordered the gumbo and we both enjoyed it. This time around I did not eat any street food but make sure to check out the halal food trucks if you’re ever in NYC.

 

Tourist attractions. NYC has a lot of tourist attractions but I am not really drawn to a lot of them such as the Statue of Liberty. My favorite attraction is the Brooklyn Bridge because the lower part of the bridge is for cars and the upper part is for pedestrians where you can walk while getting an amazing view of the NYC skyline. I also love Central Park just because it is so huge and is usually a great place to people watch. My friend and I also went to the top of the empire state building which had a great view of the skyline at night with all the lights all over the city. Surprisingly, we went on a Thursday and there were a lot of tourists there especially from France. I joked to my friend that French people view NYC the way American people view Paris: full of romance, class, and adventure. So Paris 2020 anyone?

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Night Life. On this trip, I was really looking to find a club that plays African music because that is something I do not get to experience where I live down South. I found an event in Brooklyn hosted by an African DJ in a lounge. My friend and I showed up an hour late to the event but we ended up being among the first 5 people there including the DJ. While we waited for more people to show up, I took the chance to play the DJ’s electronic drums which was actually pretty fun as you can see in the video below (sorry for the horrible quality).  By the end of the night, only 20 people had shown up but we still enjoyed as the DJ was on fire playing all the Afrobeats bangers. On my previous trips to NYC, I have gone to American clubs which are all over the place and can get really packed. That was a while back though so I won’t give any recommendations because things might have changed. But NYC still remains as the city that never sleeps so don’t sleep on it.

Accommodation & Transport. Ubers can be a pretty expensive way to travel since the city is so expansive. It is a necessary evil though mainly for airport trips and when you’ve exhausted all your energy by dancing all night. However, the train system in NYC is world class. Usually, it will take about the same travel time as a car to take the train as train stops are everywhere and the wait times are short. Also, NYC trains are known to have talented individuals displaying their talents in hopes of being discovered and making a bit of money. And of course trains and buses are much cheaper than Ubers. For accommodation, there are usually deals on Groupon especially during the offseason (Spring and Fall). I chose to stay at a hotel in Queens because LaGuardia Airport is in Queens and I did not want to be late to the airport as usual. Also, I have always wanted to stay in Queens after watching Coming to America with Eddie Murphy and Yes, I ❤ NY.

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Thanks for reading! 🙂

Like my father

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March 2010

Since birth, I have always been a daddy’s girl. When my mom used to get frustrated doing my hair as a little girl and want to shave it, my father would tell her to dare to cut it and risk getting returned to her village (this was obviously a joke by the way). But yes, my dad has always looked out for my best interest. When I wanted to get my hair chemically relaxed to be straight, he said no but since I wanted it so bad, my mom said yes. Now I wish I had listened to my father because my hair was so much healthier before. In fact, people I grew up with in Kenya remember me for my long hair. Hair stories aside, I sought my dad’s satisfaction the most (see previous post about how I tried to remain neutral in who I loved more). I think this was because my dad was very social and would brag about the exploits of my siblings and I to anyone who would listen. My mother is more introverted so not so much bragging there but of course, we could tell when she was proud of us too.

            They say that when a woman looks for a man, we look for our father’s or our brother’s characteristics in the man we marry. Sometimes, consciously and sometimes, subconsciously. In one of my previous relationships, the guy told me that his goal was to love me more than my father loves me. I did not think much about it then but recently, I thought about it and realized that the man who promised me this made a promise he could not keep. For one, my father has never put me in any situation that could hurt me. Secondly, my father will go above and beyond for anything that is important to me. Finally, I am named after my father’s mother so my father not only sees me as his daughter but also as the spirit of his mother. In essence, my father loves me as one would love their mother and child at the same time.

            I am not saying that your spouse can or cannot love you more than your parents. That is too deep of a philosophical question to answer in a blog post but what I do know is that as a woman, your relationship with your father plays a major role in your life. I know some people who did not have the most present or loving father and so they look to God to be their heavenly father. I think this is because we all desire security and love especially when we are young. I am blessed that my father provided both needs. He is not a perfect person but I can definitely say that I would not be the person that I am today, including my achievements, without his support. And to defy societal standards a bit let me share a few interesting characteristics about my dad:

  1. He has beautiful handwriting, actually better than my mom’s because he was taught calligraphy as a child.
  2. He is really good at cutting paper in a straight line and stayed up with me several times during my science fair projects to help me decorate my posters.
  3. The quote that I remember most from him is “work smarter not harder”. As such, I have a slight obsession with problem-solving and have a slight pet peeve with inefficiency

To make this blog post more well-rounded, I will say that we should all aim to be better than our parents and so I am not blind to any bad qualities that I may have picked up from my parents. But I think if you ever ask a woman whether she would prefer a better husband to her or a better father for her kids, she would go with the latter. So with that, thank you to the fathers who help to bring up good human beings into our society. Apparently, some countries celebrate fathers’ day in March so I guess this early fathers’ day blog post for those of us in the U.S.A while it is in due time for others. Either way, thank you for reading. 🙂 ❤

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. 🙂 ❤

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 🙂 ❤

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. 🙂 ❤

Self-love: Love is a Verb.

bday pic 2018I would like to start this post by thanking God for granting me another year on this planet as this was my birthday month. I think this year was one of the best years I have ever had. This year was characterized much maturity and love. Love from others but most importantly from myself. Recently I stumbled upon a song by John Mayer titled “love is a verb”. After looking up the lyrics for the song, I felt like sharing them with everyone I know. But instead of spamming people’s inboxes, I decided to include them as part of this post. So here are the lyrics from the song “love is a verb”.

"Love is a verb
It ain't a thing
It's not something you own
It's not something you scream
When you show me love
I don't need your words
Yeah love ain't a thing
Love is a verb
Love ain't a thing
Love is a verb

Love ain't a crutch
It ain't an excuse
No you can't get through love
On just a pile of I-O-Us

Love ain't a drug
Despite what you've heard
Yeah love ain't a thing
Love is a verb
Love ain't a thing
Love is a verb
So you gotta show, show, show me
Show, show, show me
Show, show, show me
That love is a verb

You gotta show, show, show me
Show, show, show me
Show, show, show me
That love is a verb

Love ain't a thing
Love is a verb

I hope these lyrics help people to realize that love really is a verb. You can tell who loves you by their actions. In fact, my dad has always told me that “love is taking care”. Taking care of others and most importantly, yourself. Because if your love for yourself is so strong it means that you are taking care of yourself so that you might be able to love/take care of your neighbor/lover as you do for yourself. Thank you all for reading my blog. I do not take your support for granted.  I hope the next time someone tells you that they love you, that you don’t believe them unless they have actually shown that through actions. 🙂 ❤