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

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December 2018

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

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

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

5 things I learned from the Marshall movie

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The Marshall movie was released last year starring Chadwick Boseman (the Black Panther himself) as probably the most famous black lawyer, Thurgood Marshall. Thurgood Marshall won several landmark cases during the civil rights era such as Brown vs Board of Education which lead to the end of segregated schools. The movie however focuses on one specific case where a black man is accused of raping his white female employer. I don’t want to ruin the movie for anyone but let’s just say Marshall is the lawyer you would want if you were accused of something you didn’t do. The only sad part about the movie is that for a $12 million budget, the movie only made $10 million at the box office which is not a reflection of how good the movie is. So go out there and watch this movie because I definitely learned a lot from it.

  1. Haters gonna hate. We all know this modern proverb but imagine if you’re in the 1940s where segregation is the law. Would you let the stereotypes that white people had about your race let you think less of yourself? Your answer then should have been No and your answer today should still be No because there are still people who have segregation mentality.
  2. Always have the mentality of a winner no matter the odds against you. If Marshall could win court cases in the segregation era, you can win at whatever you put your mind to in this era. In the movie, there were so many factors that were against Marshall and his partner but they never took the easy way out. They faced threats for being involved in the case and still went to work like everything was okay. They did their best and that is what life is about. So go out there and do your best.
  3. Sacrifice is inevitable. Due to Marshall’s career that took him all over the country, he did not get to spend a lot of time with his family. This was clearly difficult for him but he knew that helping attain civil rights and helping the innocent from erroneous prosecution was bigger than him. He was purpose driven and eventually, he became a Supreme Court Justice. In essence, he is his “ancestors’ wildest dream.”
  4. Keep a good circle of peers around you. Marshall was friends with Langston Hughes and other black artists at the time. His peers kept him grounded and reminded him of his purpose which is really important especially when times get hard.
  5. Have strong morals and values that you hold yourself accountable to. Marshall once said that “You do what you think is right and let the law catch up” meaning that the law is not always ethical. In your career, there are policies that might not actually be helpful to people and sometimes doing the “right thing” is better than doing things in the supposed “right way.”

May we continue to honor those who have paved the road before us. And may we all continue to be our “ancestors’ wildest dreams.” Thanks for reading. 🙂 ❤

5 things I learned from reading Kevin Hart’s “I can’t make this up”

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August 2018, Fairhope

I would like to start by saying that if you have access to a good public library, then save your coins and your house from book clutter by borrowing books from the library. It supports your local community and maybe reduces your carbon footprint. Either way, reading is good for you because as we feed our bodies, we must also feed our minds. And if you ever want to really laugh, just read a book written by a comedian. I recently read Kevin Hart’s I can’t make this up which is a book with many little chapters and a lot of life lessons. Here are the top 5 lessons I learned from the book:

  1. If you’re going to hustle, hustle hard! A lot of people think that Kevin Hart is an overnight success but once you read the book you realize that his success climaxed after about 15 to 18 years of grinding. He toured a lot of small comedy clubs all over the US several times before being able to sell out basketball arenas.
  2. Life is an ebb and flow of ups and downs. Before becoming a household name, he had a few breaks such as being cast in movies like Soul Plane and Fool’s Gold which actually flopped at the box office. When Kevin Hart got cast in these movies he thought they were going to be his big breaks but for reasons beyond his control, it didn’t work out that way. However, he credits such experiences for humbling him and teaching him not to be overexcited about projects because you’re never know how they’re going to turn out.
  3. You can’t force a relationship to work. Kevin grew up with separated parents and he himself is now divorced from his first wife. His relationship with his wife had a lot of trust issues even in the dating face and for some reason they both thought marriage would make things better due to vows. However, they were both unhappy in the marriage and it took both of them a long time to realize that they would be happier apart from each either. The main thing Kevin worried about in divorcing his wife was whether it was the right move for his two kids. However, after a bit of separation, he realized that exposing his kids to a dysfunctional marriage would probably lead them to fall into the same cycle later.
  4. Stay positive and check yourself. We all have flaws and usually, they are our biggest obstacle to achieving success. If your work ethic isn’t there, then you’re not going to go far. If you have an addiction (which Kevin Hart admits to having alcohol binging and gambling problems), then you need to seek help. If you have bad spending habits, then you’ll never have a great net worth despite how much money you make. So analyze yourself and try to understand your flaws so you can eventually overcome them. Also, staying positive will give you a lot of peace.
  5. Teamwork makes the dream work. A lot of people (including myself before reading this book) don’t know that Kevin has a well-sized team that is mainly composed of his friends. One of his friends helps him write jokes, another helps with traveling logistics, another was opening his comedy shows for him, another was helping with organizing after parties for his shows, and then, of course, he had his comedy manager. Maybe, in the beginning, you can do it alone but as the African proverb states “if you want to go far, go together”.

I hope you pick up a book, whether today, tomorrow or later this month. Happy reading 🙂 ❤

Taking Stock: June

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At Home Decor, June 2018

The last time I did a taking stock post was April which is a different season so it just makes sense to do one for the summer season we are now in.

Making: my bedroom prettier with each run to furniture and home décor stores. My bedroom theme is mainly black and white although my bedding colors are mainly dark blue and white. I totally revamped my room this year with new furniture, carpet, and bedding. I wouldn’t call myself an interior designer but I do know what I like. So far, I am happy with the look.

Eating: is not as healthy as it usually is. I blame this on the summer season because it inspires you to eat out a lot because who wants to be inside during good weather. My weakness is the Maui Wowie pizza from mellow mushroom which has jerk chicken, pesto, banana peppers and thick crust. I actually ate this pizza twice this week so pray for me y’all.

Drinking: Ice pops. Another summer weakness is flavored ice pops which I eat every day because they’re so good for calming down the body and brain (at least that’s how I justify my intake). Luckily the brand I like is only sold in the summer so this won’t be a yearlong thing.

Reading: I can’t make this up by Kevin Hart. I know he’s cheated both of his wives but my favorite non-fiction books to read are those written by comedians. After not being able to get Trevor Noah’s book at the library, I thought Kevin Hart’s book would suffice for now. So far it’s actually an interesting book.

Playing: lots of tennis. This week I played tennis three days for a total of 4 hours of play time. This week I discovered muscles I didn’t even know I had when I played an older lady (maybe 30-40 years older than me) and she whooped me which goes to show that tennis is a lifelong sport. However, the sunscreen I’ve been using is causing breakouts on my face so I am ditching it and trying Aveeno SPF 70. I hope this works.

Creating: memories with my family. My younger brother graduated in May and we’re happy that he’s now started his career. My little niece is getting smarter and bigger every day. We are all hoping that she’ll be left handed so she can be an undefeatable tennis play (and by we, I mean me haha).

Wishing: that everyone who is hurting in the world, may find peace within themselves and their greater purpose on this earth. There’s entirely too much loss and pain in this world.

Enjoying: discovering new music. I am a soundcloud type of girl and I credit most of my musical discoveries to the app. Yesterday, I discovered a new Indian artist known as Pav Dharia and I am so excited to listen to his full album.

Liking: positive energy. It’s always refreshing to meet people who have great vibes and resonate with your wavelength. I am happy to have found some of these people.

Wondering: what to wear today to a dinner my family has been invited to by a fellow Kenyan. I am thinking an African dress at the moment.

Loving: my current work life balance. I am blessed to have a job where I am not constantly stressed every day and to be able to have the time to enjoy life outside of work (i.e. tennis, vacation, and free weekends).

Hoping: my friends in Kenya are able to get me a book by a Kenyan author (namely Drunk by Jackson Biko).

Marveling: at how time is flying by. I can’t believe half the year is almost over. So much can happen in a day let alone 6 months. I am happy that so far, this year has been promising.

Wearing: my night gown because my official night clothes have either been bought for me by my mom are or “borrowed” from my mom.

Noticing: that romantic love does have seven stages: Stage 1: Appreciation. Stage 2: Infatuation.     Stage 3: Attraction. Stage 4: Impression. Stage 5: Conviction. Stage 6: Reaffirmation. Stage 7:         Commitment. I noticed this from watching an Indian movie, Dil Se, last night which draws from     the seven stages of love in its story.

Knowing: that life is full of ebb and flows (up and downs) which is what makes the experience so interesting. As Forrest Gump would say, “life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.”

Thinking: that music is the spice of life. It truly makes life more enjoyable, more bearable, more relatable.

Feeling: at peace. Namaste fellow readers. May peace be with you. 🙂 ❤

The duality of human existence: more than just black and white

 

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May 2018

In the event of Kanye West saying “slavery was a choice” and people we looked up to such as Morgan Freeman being accused of sexual harassment, we have to acknowledge the duality of human existence. A person can be a great musician, actor, co-worker etc but still be a less than perfect human. When we revere people to the extent of unrealistic adoration, we are bound to be disappointed because no one can ever live up to such expectations.

In the words of Tupac, “ a role is something people play and a model is something people make. Both of those things are fake.” I think it’s okay to have a role model for a specific facet of their life but not for their entire being. For example, we can admire Michael Jackson for his work ethic but not for his other life choices. We can admire Kevin Hart for his humor but not for his infidelity. When we realize that people are more complex than what we see with our eyes, we allow them to make their choices and have their peace.

I was watching an interview of Keke Palmer on the Breakfast Club radio show. Let me just say Keke is able to dissect being human so well for a person who is just 24 years old. In the interview, she discusses going through depression and growing up in the limelight. Her most interesting discussion for me is when she recalls the first time that her parents fell short of her expectations. She wasn’t trying to throw her parents under the bus. She was simply making the point that everyone is bound to disappoint us at one point or another. However, the greatest disappointment is when our parents first let us down. It’s not until that we are adults that we are realize that our parents are just human and were trying to do their best when raising us.

So to drive the point home, It’s important to recognize the complexity of human nature. It’s important not to harbor hate or judgment towards someone because of his or her life decisions. Everyone is going through life without a road map just like you. Nobody is perfect, including you, so don’t expect perfection (even from yourself). This post feels like a TED talk or therapy session, I’ve been avoiding writing this one for a while but I am glad that it finally came together in my head.

As always, thanks for reading. 🙂  ❤