Birthday Trip to Catalina Island: Part 1

view from my Hamilton Cove apartment

THIRTY. YEARS. OLD. Wow!! This is a huge milestone especially for women. I expected life to be quite different at thirty from my current reality. The whole cliche of having settled down with a husband, at least one child and stable career. But to be honest, I haven’t had the most vanilla cookie cutter life. I honestly don’t think that’s what God intended for me. I am miracle baby and my name literally means the work of God…and God isn’t vanilla lol. I most definitely was not going to have a basic 30th birthday celebration either. Oh no! After how painful and confusing my twenties were, I owed it to myself to celebrate and embrace this new decade of my life. The year 2020 tried it with the pandemic and banning Americans from travel. My original plan was to spend a few days in Italy and then go on a missions trip to Uganda. But I am The USAfrican. So with the help from my sister, we decided to move the trip to Santa Catalina Island, a paradise off the coast of California. I partnered with Love Catalina Island and Catalina Express and ended up having one of the best birthdays ever!

How I got there…

It was a smooth and comfortable ride as we sailed from Long Beach to the city of Avalon. My family and I relaxed in the Commodore Lounge of the Catalina Express boat where we were provided complimentary beverages and snacks. Since there is a pandemic still, all passengers had to wear face masks while onboard. Of course in the tradition of Wikina Family Vacations, the beginning of the vacation was met with excitement. A woman passed out in our lounge and my sister was one of the few that went to the rescue! There’s more to this story! But other than that, an hour of smooth sailing, we were welcomed by the mountains of Santa Catalina. If you’re lucky like we were, you can even spot several schools of dolphins just swimming along!

Where I stayed…

There are 24 hotels and resorts in Avalon, the main city of Catalina Island. Of course, there is also the home rental option. Those are fine and dandy, but if you really want a lush Mediterranean style experience, then Hamilton Cove is the place for you. Hamilton Cove was my family home for three blissful nights. Waking up to the sun rising over the calm Pacific ocean and going to bed with the sound of crashing waves…TAKE ME BACK! It is a private community secluded from town with it’s own private beach, gym, tennis courts, golf carts per units. I personally wouldn’t stay anywhere else on the Island…unless I’m camping.

Where I played…

What I mean by play is where to find things to do on the island. If you’re not enjoying at the Descanso Beach Club, you’ll most likely find all other activities in Avalon. But more on those activities on the next post. If you do end up on this paradisaical island, I do suggest checking out Descanso Beach. I spent my actual birthday there drinking mimosas, laying in the sun, eating delicious nachos and wings, and swimming in the ocean. My first time swimming in the Pacific and MY GOODNESS! It felt so much nicer than the Atlantic! There’s something in that water! Either that or I was just elated by the mimosa filled birthday vibes. My brother and I waded the water to a rocky area for some photographs because that’s the kind of stuff we do. There was a particular spot that actually felt like a spa as the currents came in and out creating bubbles. Zen!

Back in the cabanas, the group next to us bought me more drinks and played birthday music for me to dance to! They were super friendly and awesome company. And by chance, they were the party with the woman who passed out on the boat ride to the island! What happened? They decided to try edibles for the first time and she in particular had one too many! Hey mom, how did the trip go? HAHAHA!

That’s all for now folks! I’ll give more details about the island, where I ate and what I did on the next post. In the mean time, go ahead and start booking your trip to Catalina. Check out Love Catalina Island for everything when booking!

Quarantine Chronicles: Salvaging Summer

As we all know, 2020 is undoubtedly the strangest year in the world’s modern history. It’s a strenuous attempt to keep track of the plethora of events. But for those of us who are still alive, I implore you to consider hope for the rest of 2020. If I’m being honest, personally, 2020 is not the most difficult year I’ve experienced. I believe it’s those who have been privileged in certain aspects of life that consider 2020 the worst. They have been forced to come face to face with strange discomfort, forced out of their ignorance, forced to realize their privilege or the privilege of others. But there are those who have experienced answered prayers in this year. In times like these, I feel like their praises ought to be amplified just as loudly as the cries of the oppressed. Maybe even more. And no I don’t mean that the voices calling and crying out in sorrow and desperation for change should be turned down or muted. Absolutely not! It is their voices that prompt overdue changes. But for the sake of our spirits, we shouldn’t remain jaded by the injustice and ugliness of humanity. Yes, it is exacerbating. But there is still beauty from the ashes.

As I write this, a song by Elevation Worship is blasting. You take what the enemy meant for evil and You turned it for good. I’ve seen God do this in my life multiple times. I’m seeing God do this for His people in 2020. People who were brought to their knees, awakened from their slumber and forced to see the errors of their ways are transforming their hearts and minds. These stories are signs of hope. Just like the sunflower that holds it’s head high, seeking and embracing the sun so should we continue to stay strong with our heads held high. I was going to insert a picture of me in a pensive state, but my friend prefers my smile so here I am smiling in a field of sunflowers.

So as the season is coming to an end, I challenge you to make the most of it before the next. I didn’t get to do as much as I wanted to this Summer. I cancelled my first camping trip because I couldn’t find people who were interested in my little adventure. And no one wanted me going camping alone in Trump’s America. As little as cancelling the trip was, it was the tipping point that made me realize I never acknowledged how much this pandemic and America’s nonsense had taken away from me. I became angry at myself for living in fear, angry with my friends, extra angry with America. I had a moment of depression last month thus forfeiting every single plan. But God, as usual, provided little signs of hope in my life. So now I’m trying to salvage what I can for the rest of the summer, especially as an unemployed traveler. To be honest, with anxiety and depression tugging at my feet, it’s proving to be hard, but I am finding ways. A fellow Michigan blogger inspired me to visit this particular sunflower field at Zilke’s Vegetable Farm in Milan, MI. It’s a perfect outdoors social distancing activity for friends, couples and families. It’s serene, beautiful, plus you can buy fresh produce and also have farm to table lunch. I’m fortunate enough to live in a state with a lot of lakes and fresh water activities. Plus I have a big trip coming up to end the Summer with a bang. I’ll give you a hint: my birthday is a couple days before the last day of Summer.

What little things in your life bring you joy? What activities put a smile on your face? Cherish the moments you have with yourself and with others. Engage in the little things that spark joy. I challenge you to be a vessel of joy.

Quarantine Chronicles: Local and Regional Travel

I have a mini rant before I get to the point of this blog post. And seeing as this is a blog, my blog, these are my opinions. If you don’t agree, that’s cool. You can continue reading, skip this rant and proceed to the rest of the post, read a completely different post, or close the tab. Alright. Inhale. Here. We. Go! PRACTICE COMMON SENSE!!!! Unfortunately, common sense isn’t common. Human beings also act like sheep and follow without consideration or reason. It’s bizarre! Scenes of crowded bars, clubs and beaches while there’s a novel virus living it’s best life. Remember there isn’t any certain cure or vaccine. Y’all are really out there risking your lives (more importantly the lives of others) because I’m pretty sure proper hygiene is still not being practiced. No, people are stubborn, irresponsible and inconsiderate only caring about their rights! There are individuals walking around without masks, coughing and sneezing in their hands. Did I miss the memo where it’s been decided that the virus no longer exists? Is that what it is? People are flocking to crowded areas without masks in the middle of a pandemic. And why are people so against wearing masks? Throwing fits like children. If an establishment mandates the wearing of a face mask, respect their policies and wear the damn mask! If you feel uncomfortable, go to another establishment! Imagine being upset that an area is smoke free and then you make a fuss about constitutional rights. Or whining on Facebook that you got fined for not wearing the seat belt while driving. Imagine going on twitter to complain about someone who asked for your shoes to be removed in their house. Maybe it’s the Nigerian in me, but the entitlement is DISGUSTING!!! Why can’t we as a people come together to try and reduce the rate of spread until there is a proven cure or vaccine available to ALL. Imagine not caring about a flu outbreak. At least doctors can intentionally fight the flu. They’re still figuring out this virus. I’ll stop here, because I can go on and on. And this is the only safe space for me to vent…Facebook is filled with a bunch of whiny adults, and I DO NOT condone negative energy on my IG.

AND EXHALE!!!!

So, the world has tried reopening, but travel isn’t the same. A lot of the world isn’t welcoming American residents. I wonder why? What you can do is travel locally and regionally. There are a hidden gems everywhere! That’s what I’ve been doing in Michigan and Georgia. Before I left Michigan, I drove a couple hours to the Silver Lake State Park for some peace of mind. While in Georgia, I drove to the Amicalola State Park to hike the beginning of the Appalachian trail!

Amicalola falls is the tallest waterfall in Georgia. There are three places to view the falls, and three ways to reach the top. One can drive all the way to the top where you can park your car and view the mountain range and the water fall. This is the least exciting method, but has the second best view of the waterfall, the top. This also provides the least amount of physical exertion on the body. The second way to get to the top is to hike through a trail away from the waterfall. This is the route my brother and I took up the mountain. It makes for an exciting trip, as the hike itself is quite strenuous. But the views of the mountain range as you elevate make the physical demands worth it. Although you can hear the water, you don’t get to see the waterfall until you reach the top which also happens to be the beginning of the Appalachian trail. Then you can walk down the stairs to catch the best view of the waterfall. Lastly, the third route is half nature hike half staircase. Basically, you find yourself walking along the waterfall. Halfway through is a midpoint, the best view. Around this point is where the stairs begin. It’s not as strenuous as walking through the trail.

You’ve always been able to go outside. It’s just how to go outside responsibly within jurisdiction that you must figure out. I can help with that. Here are three simple tips to successfully travel locally and regionally within comfort.

  1. Avoid peak times which is usually anytime from 11 am to 5 pm. Because it’s summer, you want to skip these times to avoid the high temps. Also most places aren’t as crowded outside of peak times, which means less traffic or most importantly lower risk of spread.
  2. Avoid crowded places. For every popular dense beach, there is a quieter and sparse section a couple minutes walk away. I’ve never liked crowded beaches. I don’t understand the appeal. Or you can drive a few miles further and there will be a less populated and polluted beach. Same goes for parks, restaurants, and bars. I understand that popularity usually means good. But that’s not the case in most of times. Take for instance the music played on the radio vs indie and underground music. Hole in the wall restaurants and bars are known to usually have better food and drinks for lower prices too.
  3. Seek out hidden gems. That’s my main focus for the rest of the year. Hidden gems are hidden, meaning they are not crowded with annoying people. Hidden gems are gems, meaning they are valuable and worth visiting.

Quarantine Chronicles: A Trip to Holland…Michigan

How I wish to be able to visit Europe! But alas, the borders are closed to Americans AND Nigerians. Talk about a double whammy for me! So as I continue to travel locally, I decided to add Holland, Michigan to my lists of destinations. As you may or may not know, I lived in the real Holland, The Netherlands, when I was younger. I have very fond memories of the country. And I have always planned to go back as an adult. But when I heard that there was a place called Holland in Michigan with TULIPS AND A WINDMILL, I just had to go see for myself.

My initial plan was to visit in May during tulip season. Unfortunately, due to the spread of Covid-19 and strict stay at home orders, I had departed to Atlanta to be with my family. Michigan eventually sort of opened up, and I returned. Because summer in Michigan is wonderful, I am making an effort to really travel up and around the Great Lakes coast of the state, hitting a new location every other weekend. Last weekend on a trip to Grand Haven for a beach getaway, I decided to add a quick stop in Holland. I actually spent the night at an Airbnb in Grand Rapids, but spent the first day in Grand Haven and then the second in Holland. Holland is about 30 minutes from Grand Rapids.

It was a short stay especially seeing as the tulips were gone. My only other interest was the small dutch village with the windmill. Now, I’m not sure if it was because it was a Sunday or because of the pandemic, but compared to Grand Haven, Holland was quite dead. The roads were empty, the air was quiet. This isn’t me complaining. It made for a very comfortable visit to the dutch village. It was incredibly easy to maintain way more than the minimum distance from people.

The dutch village is basically a park. It costs five dollars to enter. When you enter, you’ll be greeted by a woman in traditional old dutch attire. This time during a pandemic she’ll be wearing a mask because of the airborne virus. While it’s not a requirement for guests to wear masks, it is mandatory when entering the building in which the restroom is located. To the left is small building with a old but automated dutch organ playing fair tunes. As you walk passed it, you’ll greeted by an array of flags representing the twelve provinces of the Netherlands. Then comes the canal (a staple in the Netherlands) with an accompanying draw bridge. One can actually kayak down the water.

A short stroll to the right after crossing the bridge is the “village” as seen in one of the pictures above. And a stroll to the left is the famous traditional windmill actually brought over from Noord Brabant, the Netherlands in 1964. The mill itself was built in 1884. Unfortunately, due to safety concerns, we were not able to tour the structure. It was still a lovely sight to see.

They went all out with the establishment of the park, an ode to the city’s dutch heritage. While I did enjoy the short visit to Holland, I was a tad underwhelmed. I missed seeing the tulips, not that tulips are a year round sight in the Netherlands. It’s my favorite flower because it reminds me of one of the best times of my life. Maybe if they had a little cafe on the grounds of the village that sold dutch snacks and sweets, I would’ve felt better. I guess I was also comparing the area to the Bavarian towns of America, like Helen or Frankenmuth (a city in Michigan that is on my list) that are bigger with more German buildings and activities. The village just felt like a small amusement park.

I will attempt to make another return next spring to see the tulips in bloom. Although I do feel like in 2021, I will be more inclined to focus on travelling out of the Midwest and out of the country. But until then, on to the next Michigan trip.

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Quarantine Chronicles: Sunset at Grand Haven

Photo by Jaii Wave

I need to go back to Grand Haven! I need to go back when it’s not crowded with 4th of July vacationers. I need to go back when it’s not during a pandemic. I’m glad I went but to be honest, traveling to a popular destination during its peak season in the middle of a pandemic is so nerve-wracking. I tried to keep my distance as much as possible. I always stayed outdoors. My mask was hanging and ready to go whenever I felt it necessary.

At least the beach at Grand Haven State Park wasn’t as crowded as I imagined. It wasn’t even hard to find parking. I was able to find a spot on the sand with more than enough distance from other groups. Most people in the freezing water kept to their groups. That’s one of the many reasons why I will never fully embrace Lake Michigan beaches, as pretty as they are. The water is always too damn cold! Man, I miss the ocean! But the sense of summer was still in the air. Sunny skies, light breeze, bathing suits, ice cream etc. The vibe of this beach town was chill and relaxing. That is until a fight almost broke out on the beach between these kids in their early twenties. One of the guys actually expressed gratitude for not bringing his gun. I for one did not appreciate the “n word” being thrown around all loud and willy-nilly. Like, what in the ghetto!? “This is a place for families that drive Camrys and go to Disney“*.

I was only there for the afternoon and evening to watch the sunset. I specifically took a stroll on the pier where the Grand Haven South Pierhead Inner Light (an extremely long name for a lighthouse) is located just to catch the summer sunset. Since I was only there for a few hours, I didn’t get to see and appreciate the area around the beach with the shops and restaurants. I must say, the real estate in that area is such a vibe!! I have to go back!!

Shot by Jaii Wave

I absolutely love summer in Michigan. Maybe it’s because of the months spent in hibernation, the almost non existent spring, and the tolerable humidity. Maybe it’s the fresh water lakes that are everywhere. I love water! If weren’t for the pandemic, I would’ve already attended a couple day parties in downtown Detroit and thrown my own little event. On the flip side, because of the pandemic, I find myself outside exploring more open spaces; picnics in the park, exploring the Lake Michigan coast. I plan on going paddle boarding next on the lake nearby! Almost every other weekend is booked for local and regional travel. More on that topic on a later post. So, what have you been up to thus far this season? Leave a comment below!

*Lyrics from Childs Play, a song by Drake.

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Quarantine Chronicles: 4th of July 2020

Below is from my observations and opinions based on my social media circle of influence. Imagine me thinking out loud:

Photo from 4th of July 2018

This past weekend the “United” States of America celebrated it’s independence day. With the current climate of racial tension and societal injustice, this year’s celebration was…interesting. In the 21st century, America being a melting pot and all, was able to bring most residents together to remember the independence from British rule and celebrate freedom. But with revelations and awareness over the years it is obviously clear that freedom is relative. For the first time in my lifetime, Americans and it’s constituents seem to be grossly divided about the celebration of the 4th of July. Months, weeks and days before the 4th, African Americans called on their people to not only refrain from celebrating but also contributing to the economy. In other words, don’t buy anything particularly from big non black businesses. As I scrolled through my Instagram, I noticed the differences per demographic. White Americans, excluding the woke, donned their red, white, and blue in pride. African Americans went about their day like any other weekend during summer. But it was the immigrant black friends that caught my eye. Lo and behold were those colors in their posts; red, white and blue. I was then reminded again, each demographic has their own reason to celebrate or not celebrate this freedom. Because, again freedom in America, like any other country is relative. I believe the problem lies in the fact that America boasts about being the land of the free. In all honesty, compared to the vast majority of the world, America really does have immense freedom and privileges. But looking through the nooks and crannies, you realize that in comparison to the western world, that freedom is quite partial. So this year, some chose to focus on and appreciate their privilege. Some chose to show gratitude to a country that gave them freedom. While some focusing on the irony of living in the land of free chose to take advantage of the holiday without celebrating the holiday. Oh and there’s still this virus being passed around, in case you forgot.

It was an interesting 4th of July to observe. I spent it on the beach in Grand Haven (more on that on a later post). The annual firework show put on by the city was cancelled due to the pandemic. And so the skies were filled with fireworks from residents in their homes. I stayed in Grand Rapids for the night and it wasn’t until after 2:30 in the morning that the noise of fireworks died down in the black and Hispanic neighborhood. A very interesting Independence day.

FYI: I do intend to address my observations of the racial divide and from conversations with different types of Americans based on the recent acts of racism in America. Because this blog is very public, I need to be careful with such a sensitive topic. It’s very different from the back and forth conversations I’ve had. It’s an extremely intricate issue in America with no simple solution…if there really is one. Plus, I will be addressing it as a Christian Nigerian immigrant who has engaged with diverse demographics of Americans since living in this country. My perspective will be different.

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Quarantine Chronicles: Throwback to Dauphin Island, Alabama

Sweet home Alabama!! Here’s an easy breezy read for you. I talk a lot a crap about Alabama, but in all actuality, the state has beautiful hidden gems. I remember when I announced that I was moving to Alabama, most responses alluded to racism, lynching etc. I’m grateful such talk did not dissuade me because I was completely ignorant of the fact that Alabama boarders the Gulf coast. A simple glance at a globe should’ve educated me, but somehow I was unaware of Alabama’s obvious geographic position. I schooled in Mobile, Alabama, a sleepy harbor city. I say sleepy having come from Atlanta. But to most who live in that area of Alabama, Mobile is the busy city. Imagine a more reserved version of New Orleans if you will.

I spent a good number of times on the beach throughout my stay in Alabama. Granted, a lot of those beaches where less than an hour drive over in Florida. The Mobile Bay area still had it’s little gems here and there. My two favorite spots were Fairhope, a cozy little southern town, and Dauphin Island, a small island off the coast for peace and relaxation. As a Rivers girl-I come from the coastal Rivers State in Nigeria. We love the water)-I couldn’t have picked a better location in Alabama.

To visit Dauphin Island, you would need to get on a ferry. I love love ferry rides!! I believe it took about half an hour or so to get to the island. To explore the island, I chose to rent a bicycle.

There isn’t that much to do on the island. My friends and I spent a the whole day exploring and hit every single sight from the lighthouse to the estuarium, from all the forts to the beach!

Seeing as Americans aren’t really welcome to a lot of countries at the moment, and with money being tight, I’m choosing to do a lot of local and regional travel. As the African whose goal is to check out all fifty states, I’ve always sought out the hidden gems in each state. They’re usually cleaner, quieter and friendlier. Honestly, especially during a pandemic where I’m looking to avoid crowded areas, now is the perfect time for such travels. I get to save money and still visit new places without major risks. Dauphin Island is one of those places if you’re ever in the Southeast region. I’m however back in Michigan and looking forward to checking out new spots in the area this summer.

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Quarantine Chronicles: Conversations With A Friend

Relationships are a sensitive subject for me. I find relationships to be extremely important in my life. When it comes to family, they pretty much are my lifeline. As far as romantic relationships, I’ve only had one boyfriend in my adult life. It technically only lasted a couple months. But we had a complicated friendship that lasted about 3 years. The demise of that friendship was painful. I considered him to be one of my best friends. I didn’t want it to end, but it wasn’t up to me. I felt dumped. It’s not the first time a friend decided they didn’t want to be friends anymore. It definitely puts a dent in my esteem. It makes me question what I did wrong and what I could’ve done better. But the fact is that in my experience friendships are fickle. So I tend to not get close or open up to most people. In fact, once I sense any drama I begin to distance myself in a bid to protect myself from hurt. So in the rare moments that I do open up to a person, I consider it divine intervention.

As you may know, while here in Atlanta, I’ve been doing some local exploration. My brother told me about this hidden bamboo forest on the banks of the Chattahoochee River in Sandy Springs. So when one of my friends from Detroit told me she was coming down for a couple days, I knew she would be the person to go on this exploration with. She’s a photographer and has YouTube channel where she documents her weight loss journey. But she is more importantly one of those divine friends. In fact, the first time we hung out by ourselves, I emptied out my entire heart to her. At that point she was still somewhat a stranger. So of course it made sense that while on this 3-4 mile hike to the bamboo forest, we would have talks. With the pandemic in the background it had been three months since we last hung out and a lot has happened. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to talk as much as I wanted to. Her brother and her brother’s cute friend also came along on the hike…I lose my capability of mature speech when I’m around a man I am physically attracted to.

As we hiked the East Palisades Unit Indian Trail we talked about boys, travel, weddings, photography, weight loss and exercise, friendships, racism (more on this on the next blog post), and Jesus. It was therapeutic and healing. You know how some people treat a church building as a spiritual sanctuary? That’s how I see nature. With everything going on in America, nature has become my place of refuge. It now totally makes sense why I’ve been enjoying growing and tending my mum’s flower and herb garden while I’ve been here. Honestly having my friend around to talk and laugh with while hopping over puddles of muddy water, climbing trees and avoiding snakes (YES SNAKES) was what I needed.

As for the bamboo forest, it was pretty amazing. It’s definitely something so unexpected especially with the city of Atlanta in the background. We came across this guy doing a style photo shoot with his camera on self-timer. Of course my friend the photographer took over and did her thing!

The end of a friendship is not the easiest thing to deal with. I’m currently watching the process play out on an HBO show, Insecure. And I really haven’t been able to talk to anyone about this last one. It’s still a sore subject for me. Regardless, I still value all the friendships I’ve gained and lost. I look forward to future friendships and am hopeful for reconciliation with past ones.

And to everyone I have ever called friend, I apologize for any hurts and disappointment I have caused. I am not perfect, but I appreciate and care about you no matter what happens.

Your friend always,

Tambari

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Quarantine Chronicles: Journey To The Past

Singing “Journey to the paaaaast“. Such an awesome song from an awesome movie; Dreamwork’s Anastacia.

Since being home, I have taken it upon myself to de-clutter the entire house, from the bottom up. In doing so, I have found myself through a portal to a past life. An escape from the statistics being fed by the news and narcissism from social media. I look through the photographs and can’t help but yearn for simpler days. Of course back then in my childish naivete I was unaware of the magnitude of the world’s chaos and the stress inducing responsibilities of adulthood. Warning to any child or teenager who stumbles upon this blog: being a grown up is overrated. But I was brought up relatively privileged. Side note, I just found out that I was literally born with a silver spoon. A gift from my grandfather! Going through the old photographs, I am eternally grateful for the privilege I had to experience different worlds around me during my early years. I am who I am because of my early exposure and interactions.

As parts of the world begin to open up and I make decisions on trips planned for the latter part of 2020, how about we look through some photos from my past…prior to this blog?

As you may know, I was born in London, England. I never actually lived there, but I spent a good number of my childhood years visiting family.

One of my earliest memories of travel is taking trips within Nigeria. From 45 minute trips to my dad’s village in Kono and a few hours east to my mum’s village in Umukabia to flights a little north to the middle of the country. I remember this particular trip to Jos in Plateau quite well. We visited a game reserve where I witnessed huge snakes devour rabbits. Scarred for life! At least I got to pick strawberries at a local farm.

Jos, Plateau, Nigeria. Sometime in the 90’s
Zuma Rock, Abuja, Nigeria. Sometime in the 90’s

Watching Disney movies, MTV and Nickelodeon, I always dreamed of visiting America. When my sisters left the country to attend university in Massachusetts, I finally had the opportunity.

Annual picnic by the beach in Rhode Island, USA. Early 00’s
On the way to school, Massachusetts | Early 00’s

We eventually lived in Massachusetts. But in the blink of an eye, my dad’s job took us across the pond to the Netherlands. We lived in Wassenaar. I have nothing but fond memories growing up there. I plan on visiting the country again. This time to experience it as an adult. Living in the Netherlands, it was not only easy to visit family back in England, but also to check out the continent. I remember a road trip we took to England. We drove to Calais, France and hopped on a ferry across the water to Dover, England. Through basketball (yes I played basketball), I was able to visit and compete in Luxembourg, Germany and Belgium. My brother’s elementary school project on Antoni Gaudi sent my family and I to Barcelona for some research (vacation).

Scheveningen beach, The Hague, Netherlands. 2001

We eventually made our way back to Nigeria. Lagos, Nigeria to be exact. While in Nigeria, I had the opportunity to visit Benin Republic, Togo and Ghana. It is a travel goal of mine to visit all the regions of Africa.

Take me back to the beach!! Lagos, Nigeria. 2010’s

When we moved back to the States, we spent a lot of time being tourists. Honestly, it’s not like we’ve stopped. And I’m pretty sure when things go back to “normal” after the pandemic, we’re gonna be aggressive with traveling the states.

First and only time in Las Vegas, Nevada. Under 21. But I’m pretty sure I copped some sips of champagne in the limo. 2010
Grand Canyon, Arizona. 2010

Somehow, somewhere down the line, my family took an interest in cruises. This year is looking like it’s going to be the first time no one is going on a cruise since the first time. My first cruise trip in 2014 took us to St. Maarten, and the US Virgin Islands. I had never seen such beauty that is the Caribbean sea. I wasn’t fully aware that these places where just a hop and a skip away from America.

First scuba dive, St. Thomas. 2014
US Virgin Islands. 2014
St. Maarten. 2014

I hope you enjoyed going down memory lane with me. I don’t remember all the trips I’ve been, but I know for sure, moving forward I will ever take travel for granted. It is a privilege. I also want to take this moment to recognize my grandfather who traveled the world! He passed that curiosity and passion down to my mother. And now because of my parents, I have the travel bug! I pray that one day, I get to experience the world with my own little family and pass down the travel bug to my future children. That’s the only type of bug I’m trying to deal with.

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Quarantine Chronicles: Cooking to bridge cultures

So, we’re still staying at home. Insert unenthusiastic yay! While I’ve been at home I’ve been cooking more than ever. Mostly because I can’t afford to occasionally order from DoorDash or GrubHub. I can’t even be mad because it’s been great for my diet and body. I adopted a flexitarian diet which basically means majority of my diet is non-processed and planted based. The beauty of this diet is that if I’m craving meat or seafood, I can totally still indulge. I just have to be mindful of the amount and frequency at which I intake animal products vs veggies. Okay, but how does this relate to the type of content you post on this blog? Thanks for possibly asking! Well the point of my blog, if you haven’t read my about page (please go read about me), is to share my experience as a Nigerian learning and embracing cultures within the US and outside. For me, food is one of the quickest ways to learn about culture. The ingredients in dishes have a history. The process tells a story of heritage. And if you ever get the chance to break bread with someone from a different ethnic background than yourself, the table is literally set for you to have open conversations about their history. I have a very diverse ethnic and cultural background. By blood, I am Ogoni, Igbo, Itsekiri and something else – I don’t know. All different ethnic groups in Nigeria. Because I traveled and moved around a lot, not only am I culturally Nigerian, but my family has adopted American (particularly southern), British and Dutch cultures. It’s evident in the meals we cook to how we celebrate certain holidays. All but one of my siblings have very adventurous palates because of this. I’m telling you, food is another way to explore the world! Anthony Bourdaine (RIP) knew this. And that’s why he will always be a fave!!! Before I get sidetracked, lets get back to the topic of this blog post. So I’ve been at home, can’t travel, I have time to cook, I have an interesting cultural background, and I am adventurous. What do I do? I try out fusion recipes! Particularly Nigerian fusion dishes. Thanks to creativity and inspiration from my Instagram friends and family, I’ve made the following dishes!

Southern cookin’ with Nigerian spices: Suya Spiced Chicken and Spicy Waffles

French treat with a Nigerian touch: Plantain Crepes Stuffed With Egg Stew

Mexican staple with Nigerian filling: Suya Tacos

If you’d like to watch my process check out my IGTV series or my YouTube series. In the meantime, what other cuisines should I fuse with Nigerian? What types of dishes have you made during the lockdown? What are your favorites? Let’s have a discussion in the comments.

Cheers!

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