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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
photo by Soco Restaurant
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?
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.
Let me start off by saying that I have been a big fan of Chiwetel Ejiofor’s work since his portrayal of Solomon Northup in the famous movie 12 years a Slave. And similarly, he did not disappoint in this movie based on a story about William Kamkwamba also known as The boy who harnessed the wind as he figured out a way to make a wind powered water pump for irrigation during a dry spell in his village in Malawi. As Chiwetel Ejiofor is British-Nigerian, he had to learn Chichewa to play the role of William’s father and to be honest I would think he was a Malawian actor if I was not familiar with his background. The film which was also directed by Chiwetel has received a Sundance Film Festival award but I am sure you would rather read about my thoughts on the film (maybe just a little bit of arrogance there haha). Anyways, let me commence my review.
Film quality. Even though the film is set in a remote area, it does a good job of kind of romanticizing village life and still depicting it in an honest way. The lighting is perfect for the various hues of brown faces that are part of the story. Both English and Chichewa is used in the film with English being the main language and Chichewa used for dramatic effect where it is most appropriate. The sound quality is also good and as weather is an important part of the story, the different seasons are captured beautifully.
Plot/Story line. I think the story is pieced together very well. The background of William’s family dynamics is appropriately presented and all the main characters are given well rounded depictions. The main supporting character is played by Chiwetel as William’s father and we get to see so much raw emotion from him that is truly unmatched. The movie overall can be a little depressing at times but you have to remember that this is based on a true story meaning that people do go through really tough times. Therefore, I think this movie serves as a reminder to persevere despite life’s challenges.
Cultural representation. I love watching foreign movies because it presents as an opportunity to discover new cultures and ways of life. This movie definitely provides this perspective especially in terms of power dynamics within the Malawian village and how education is perceived in the community. Furthermore, it also depicts local politics and how funerals are conducted. I think what touched me the most is realizing that education is not free in a lot of African countries and that this is probably holding the country back in terms of the creative thinkers that are missing out on expanding their knowledge. In the movie, the main character, William, is clearly a creative thinker and he got lucky in finding resources that could help him explore his problem-solving ideas. I wish that we could all commit ourselves to nurturing our own and others’ creative thinking.
I think when I first saw the trailer for the film, I thought it was going to be a simple moving about a young boy who became a hero. However, this film is much more than that. It has a love story, political context, depth, and a certain richness that just cannot be explained. It is rich in life because of how much well the characters are portrayed. And just before you thought it could not get any better, the local chief is portrayed by the Butler Geoffrey from the Fresh Prince of Bel Air (his real name is Joseph Marcell). Let me tell you that Mr. Marcell did a wonderful job with the Malawi accent as well even though we have not seen him acting for maybe one or two decades now since the end of Fresh Prince. I hope to see more from him, Chiwetel, and the other members of this lovely cast. In case you are wondering, the movie is on Netflix for all to view (If you don’t have membership, ask a friend). 🙂 ❤
I like to regard myself as sort of a dare devil. I loved jumping from trees and was not really afraid of heights as a kid. Now I am bit more reserved since I really do not want to die a stupid death, especially after watching 1,000 ways to die with my dad and brothers growing up. But despite my reservations, I have still experienced at least 3 near death experiences (that I know about). I’ll start with the least frightening to the most:
When I was born and still in the hospital with my mom, she fell off the hospital bed and fortunately she was not holding me and luckily, I was lying on the side facing the wall so I did not fall with her. Obviously this is not an experience that I remember but when my mom told me about it, I realized how fortunate I am to have been spared from the numerous infant mortalities that happen on a daily basis. They say that when a woman is pregnant, she is between life and death because of how dangerous pregnancy can be at times. Childbirth still scares me to this day but I guess if others have done it, so can I.
In 2005, my mom and I went to Kenya to visit for the summer. While there, we went to a place known as Eastleigh in Nairobi where the place is surrounded by vendors all over the streets and malls filled with more vendors. I was about 12 years old so I shopping trip with my mom and aunt was a little bit boring for me because they were talking about grown up stuff that I knew nothing about. Anyway at some point, I bent down to tie my shoe and didn’t say anything because I did not want to interrupt my mom and aunt. Next thing I knew, I was essentially lost as I could not find them at all. Now picture me as an innocent looking girl all along in a street filled with people and chaos. The female vendors were looking at me like, “be careful” and they kept telling me “fungua macho” which means “open your eyes”. Since I was young, I didn’t realize they were saying this because they wanted me to look at their products. Instead I thought they knew that I was lost and were warning me of danger. So during these period of being lost, my mind went to dark places as I started imagining myself kidnapped and used as a child slave. Fortunately, that did not happen, as my intuition led me to a three-story mall and I walked through all the booths until I heard the sound of my mom and aunt’s voice. Remember this was the age where kids didn’t have cell phones and Eastleigh was so far from where he stayed that I might have been really doomed if I did not find them.
If none of the previous stories scared you, this is the one that probably will. So this probably happened when I was about 19 years of age. I was home for the summer from college and my older brother had just bought a motorcycle. So me being the dare devil, I decided that I could convince him to let me park it for him in the garage. Somehow he agreed and gave me a quick tutorial on how to press the gas and the break. I guess in my excitement, I got the gas and break confused so I quickly pressed the gas thinking it was the break and the motorcycle (with me on it) sped off so fast that even my neighbors who were outside ran to our garage to see what was going on. Fortunately, our garage had a door to the backyard so I did not crash into the concrete walls of our garage. Next problem was that there were huge oak trees in the backyard that I could crash into and break my head in two as I was not wearing a helmet. Fortunately, I steered left and hit one of the bushes adjacent to the house. The motorbike fell on me and scratched my lower leg a little, which to me was a miracle considering how bad that situation could have been. Like everyone involved in this situation, especially me and my older brother were in shock. It took a while for my heart to stop racing and when we told our dad about it, he was not very happy. However, my brother still kept riding his bike and I decided to just be happy with being his passenger. By the way, the featured picture above was taken about a week or two before my doom while posing with my brother’s bike that was parked in the garage at the time. Little did I know what was to come lol.
When I remember any of these near-death experiences, I realize that I would already be dead by now if I was not meant to be alive at this point in time. There has to be reason that none of those moments were not my time to go meet my maker or just turn into dust. Therefore, they keep me motivated to make good use of my time here on earth. We really never will know when we are going to die, even some people who attempt suicide end up surviving their self-injuries so you never really know. To end on a lighter note: here is a new fun fact that I learned recently. For those who participate in the U.S. daylight savings time, what is the longest month of the year? If you guessed October that is the correct answer as the 10th month has 31 days and because of the extra one hour gained during daylight savings time, it surpasses the other 31 day long months. 🙂 ❤
For a book that is only 150 pages long, it captures so much of America that is typically left unsaid. In his book, Coates writes a well-articulated letter to his son about the journey of being Black in America. The journey is described historically, emotionally, mentally, and even spiritually as Coates tries to come to terms with losing a fellow school mate to police violence. Despite this book being short, it took me a while to read because it covers a very heavy subject matter and can leave you feeling a bit sad at times. But this sadness is truly the reality of what it means to be Black in America (just watch the news). I would venture to say that this book should be required reading for all Americans but clearly I am not the president. So here are the five things I learned from reading this thoughtful book:
Howard University may be the mecca of black intellectual thought and black higher learning. The author of the book, Coates, is an alumni of Howard University along with his wife and his murdered college mate. As such, the book might as well be a marketing scheme for Howard University but to be honest, it seems the author is just sharing his honest experience at the institution. I attended a predominantly white institution (PWI) for college so clearly I cannot speak much about historically black college and universities (HBCUs). I think part of why I never applied to one is because I never felt “black” enough in high school and what I was looking for in a university, was a great global representation. However, it was refreshing to learn about Howard University in the book as the author refers to it as the Mecca and rightfully so as many great Black American thinkers such as Thurgood Marshall and Toni Morrison graduated from Howard University. Fun fact: Taraji P. Henson and Mr. Black Panther himself, Chadwick Boseman, are also Howard alumni.
“They made us into a race. We made ourselves into a people.” Black history is full of rich stories of struggles, greatness, and humanity. As much as oppressors have tried to bury our history, our language, our culture, we must persist to remember our journey. Our journey is what makes us black people. When you don’t know where you come from, you can never fully imagine where you can go. So make it an effort to read up on black history as most schools definitely do not teach us enough of it.
Double consciousness plays a big role in Black America. The theory of double consciousness was coined by W.E.B. Dubois in his book The Souls of Black Folks and it basically describes how Black Americans have to view themselves from both white and black eyes. Society views Black people one way and therefore, we have to understand how we are viewed and reconcile that with how we view ourselves. For example, if a black person is seen in a predominantly white neighborhood, he or she might be stopped by the cops because it is assumed that a black person would not be able to afford to live among white people. Therefore, as much as society can view Black people incorrectly, we should be aware of it but not let it define us which is an act of double consciousness.
Raising a black child in America is probably one of the hardest things to do. When his school mate is murdered via police violence, Coates visits the school mate’s mom and interviews her about how she feels. The victim’s mom speaks of how she afforded her children the best education, trips abroad, and nice cars; and despite all this, she still could not protect her son from police brutality. This makes the writer very vulnerable as he has a young son and realizes that could be his own fate. As such, this experience inspires this book which is essentially a letter to his son forewarning him about such situations and how to cope with life as a black body in America.
Traveling opens one’s eyes a bit more about who you are. I think this is because you are fed with propaganda wherever you grow up and seeing how other cultures perceive you, can show you the biases of your own self-perception. When the author travels to France in his adulthood, he realizes that he could have grown up with a different childhood if he was not born in the ghettos of Baltimore, Maryland where he was constantly afraid for his life. He was also able to let his guard down as he realized what made him stand out was not the color of his skin but his poor French language skills.
Trust me when I say that this review does not do the book justice. It is one of the most beautifully written books I have ever read in my entire life. At times, I had to re-read a whole paragraph over again because it is higher level reading written with the vocabulary of a true scholar. It definitely was a challenge from my typical light autobiographical reads such as that by Kevin Hart (link to my review of his book). Despite the challenge, I truly enjoyed every second of it and my mouth often gaped at the intelligent construction of the author’s words. I hope you do too 🙂 ❤
Since February is the month of love with my previous post delving into love & divine intervention, I would like to dedicate this post to my second love (music). I am saying “second love” because it is more logical for your parent (s) to be your first love. Side note: when I was a little girl, my parents would try to ask me which one of them I loved more and I would smartly avoid the question by saying that I loved them both equally. Luckily, they never asked me that question during my teenage years because music was definitely my greatest love (cue that Ciara track) at that time.
After long days filled with teenage angst and drama, music brought some well-needed peace to my life. Specifically, Bob Marley music was what really spoke to me at that rebellious time. I would listen to “redemption song” at least once a day and knew the lyrics word for word. The guy I shared my first kiss with actually told me that he didn’t think Bob Marley was a good singer and that was a total deal breaker. I think one of the greatest moments in relationships, friendships included, is discovering each other’s music.
In the past year, I have added new music to my collection from Latino, French, and even fellow African friends. But the greatest moment is when someone collects your music and appreciates the songs you adore. On my last Houston trip, I met an African American guy who listened to Davido and thought Davido was Hispanic. I was so happy to tell him that Davido is an African like me. Also later in the year, I met a Hispanic couple who love listening to another African artist known as Koredo Bello. In both incidences, I asked how they discovered such an artist and YouTube was always the answer. So the invention of the century award deserves to go to YouTube, in my opinion, for bringing us music lovers together and helping us discover new music. So in the spirit of sharing music, here are 3 songs that I am currently obsessed with:
Shakira- “Whenever wherever”. I have always loved this song but it wasn’t until this year that I really listened to the song, looked up the lyrics, and realized what a beautifully written song it is. Here’s a little cameo for those of you who don’t have time to look up the full lyrics: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=weRHyjj34ZE
“Lucky that my lips not only mumble
They spill kisses like a fountain
Lucky that my breasts are small and humble
So you don’t confuse them with mountains”
Sam Smith ft Normani – “Dancing with a stranger’. Definitely a song with better use of the lyrics “look what you made me do” (little shade to Taylor Swift fans). And both artists can really sing the hell out of those lyrics and those that follow. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=brmW88EO_cI
Patoranking – “Suh Different”. When I need energy, this song delivers just that. It’s also that goodbye weekdays, hello weekend song that never fails. If you listen to the song, you would think Patoranking is from the Caribbean but he is actually Nigerian which goes to show that music transcends borders. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0WOHZ9QhI9M
I am not the most religious person in the world but I do believe that there is/are higher power(s) much bigger than humanity. I do believe that there are forces rooting for you and as in science, there are always equal opposite forces as well. These forces could be the goodwill and the bad nature of people. I think time is also a force that could work with you or against you especially when it comes to business and romance. I think that is why they say that good luck is when opportunity meets preparation and hard work. So whether you believe in God or not, I think it is hard to deny that there are forces much powerful than us. For example, a piano could fall from a building and squash someone to death; this would be due to the force known as gravity.
To make this more personal, I have always told my friends that finding someone to marry should not be stressful because ultimately who you meet, how you meet, and when you meet is largely not up to you. You could be born a white woman born in Mid-Western American and end up marrying a black man from Kenya who will impregnate you with a man who will become the first black president of America. Yeah, I just used Barack Obama’s birth story for the sake of a non-political argument but let me stick to the point. The point is that we stress ourselves with whether we are making the right decisions about our love lives when we should just learn how to trust the divine plan or powers that be.
Like I mentioned, I used to say that the divine plan is always working but when I would get deep in a relationship, I would try to force it to work not realizing that you should not have to force love to work. Love is either there or it is not. And as they say, you should always learn to leave the table when love is no longer being served. Even if the relationship does not work out with the person you are with, it is part of the divine plan as you are meant to learn something from it (whether you learn it is up to you). And for those of you who do not have a valentine’s this year, please remember that is also part of the plan. Look at Priyanka Chopra whose now husband, Nick Jonas, is 11 years younger than her. Maybe you just need to wait for your future bae to graduate high school, haha I am totally kidding (especially with this whole R. Kelly situation).
Life is always full of surprises, so never try to plan out your life to the T. You can say, I must be married by 28 and end up meeting the love of your life at 35 like Priyanka. Just pray for good aging, moisturize day and night, and eat well so you can always look like a fresh snack even when you are very ripe in age. But ultimately looks will fade (different degrees for different people) so also work on yourself mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. As I mentioned in my previous post about my 2019 goals, working on my spirituality is something that I really work on this year as I think when your spirit is in check, your mind and emotions follow suit. I will definitely update you guys about that as this year continues. I tend to get very into my feelings about my growth around my birthday so you can probably expect that towards the end of the year.
I hope we may all get closer to our spirit and if you celebrate V-day, then may you spend it with someone you love, including yourself. 🙂 ❤
I would like to start off with a quote that I wrote below my goals in my journal. Here it goes: “each person deserves a day away which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for. Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.” That quote is by Maya Angelou and really speaks to the importance of self-care. In 2019, put yourself first and if you haven’t already, please write your goals down. There is power in pen and paper. And at the end of the year, it is wonderful to revisit them to see what you achieved. In total, I wrote down 10 on paper but I will spare you from all that so I picked the top 5 goals.
Reduce impulse shopping. Last year, I truly enjoyed my first coins as a fulltime earner post-graduation. I was shopping online like nobody’s business. To the point, I had to make up excuses for why I was buying these things. My Kenya and Zanzibar trips was a great excuse since everyone wants to look good on vacation. But to be honest, I have so many clothes now that my two dressers with 5-6 drawers each cannot fit any more clothes. My closet is also full to the point that I am using the guest room closet for some clothes. My brother and I donated some clothes to Goodwill before we went on vacation but still no space. So I am going to try not to buy any clothes I don’t really need this year.
Travel More. This year I want to travel smart by getting a credit card with free travel miles so I don’t have to foot those tickets (Who getting “flewed out” in 2019?). So travel more and save money while doing it. I mainly want to do short local trips this year; I don’t have an international trip planned this year yet. When you have vacation hours, there are two travel strategies. One is to do short trips so you refresh a lot throughout the year and the other is two save all your hours for mainly one big trip. I did the latter last year but I want to try the former this year.
Focus on my spirituality. I went to church last weekend and can’t remember the last time I was there before that. In 2019, there’s no excuse to not getting a sermon in since we have church streaming online and even have YouTube channels filled with videos. My personal favorite is Elevation Church based out of Charlotte, NC with Steven Furtick. The pastor is pretty young so he appeals greatly to us millennials.
Develop business ideas. I think employment is great as you can learn a lot about a field by first working in it as an employee. Over the years though, you start to itch for more so I hope I can start working on my own ideas and chisel them down to feasible projects.
Work on myself externally and internally. I think a lot of times we just focus on what is on the outside but we should never neglect our character as well. My mom and I have started to do yoga together once a week now with the hopes of increasing it to two. I find YouTube videos such as Yoga with Adrienne and we do a video together on Mondays. I also signed up for pole dancing classes with my friend that I do kickboxing with so we’ll see how that goes. I barely have any upper body strength so this is probably going to be a real challenge for me.
I hope my goals can inspire you to pursue your goals too. Let us all win in 2019. Thanks for reading 🙂 ❤
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 🙂 ❤