So it’s my second time in Mexico, second time in the state of Quintana Roo. Last year, I spent a few days in Tulum with my brother. This year, I was in Cozumel and Costa Maya for a day each with my family. We pretty much spent majority of our time in Costa Maya on the beach.
I decided to go for a little adventure in Cozumel. This was my second time going scuba diving. The first time was a few years ago in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands. While I absolutely love the experience of being able to breathe underwater and explore the ocean floor, this time around I had somewhat of an awful time. I woke up with a cold and slight headache that morning. As we descended into the ocean, the worse my head hurt. Halfway through, I actually wanted to swim back to the surface due to the discomfort.
NOTE: DON’T GO SCUBA DIVING IF YOU FEEL SICK!!!!!!!!!!!!
To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect from visiting Roatan. My sister had booked a tour with a local Honduran who has exceptional reviews on Trip Advisor. So I had pretty high expectations. But boy, I had no idea that the experience would transcend all senses. I saw, I heard, I smelled, I tasted, I felt. Because I did more video taping than picture taking, I’ll be posting a video clip of my time on the island soon.
As my family left the port and made our way into the island, my sister asked a local stranger if she knew Cleve. She smiled and pointed in the direction of a slim man with brown skin and short dark straight hair holding up a sign with our last name on it. We shouted loudly with joy “CLEVE!”. He responded with even more energy “FAMILY!!!”. We basically ran to each other like long lost relatives reuniting. He gave us all hugs and there was pure jubilation amongst us all. I’ve never been welcomed by a stranger like that before, but it was heavenly! It was that type of love Jesus preached about back in the day. Another local man who was in the corner observing the whole spectacle told me that we were in good hands…”Cleve is the happiest man on the island”. It honestly pains me that I can’t really go into details of the character that is Cleve because I would end up writing a novel. And this blog post is my travels on the island of Roatan. But I’ll say this, Cleve is the light and salt of that island.
He embraced my family as his own, and showed us his beautiful island. We got an awesome history lesson that even connects Roatan to Nigeria via the Garifuna tribe. One of the five tribes on the island. The Garifuna people first arrived to the Caribbean after their slave ship from the bight of Biafra capsized. For centuries, they have fought to conserve their West African culture.
We ended our tour eating local food in one of the villages of the Garifuna people by the water. The food was so similar to the cuisine of my people in my father’s part of Nigeria. Seafood soup with fish, lobster, conch (a shellfish) eaten with machuca, or as my people call it ununu (mashed plantains). It was enough proof for me that the Garifuna must have descended from Nigeria.
Labor day is the unofficial last hoorah of Summer and the commencement of fall. Is it me or did fall arrive way earlier than prior years? Once August started approaching, it’s like the whole of America decided that summer was over. Even Starbucks jumped the gun and released their pumpkin spice lattes early. Granted I’m definitely over summer and already daydreaming of the Christmas season. I have online shopping carts filled with boots and jackets to replace the clothes I’ve donated.
Over labor day weekend, my friend and I went on a spontaneous trip to Port Austin. Neither of us had plans, and I had previously briefly mentioned checking out Turnip Rock and so we thought, why not. It’s about a two and half hour drive North of where we live, on the tip of the thumb of Michigan, on the coast of Lake Huron, one of the great lakes.
Unfortunately at the time we got to Port Austin, the winds were too high for a kayak trip to Turnip Rock, so we ended up on the Broken Rocks trail towards the less majestic Flat Rock.
Driving up, we slowly left the suburbs of metro Detroit and ventured into rural Michigan. Fields of corn saturated the drive and it made me realize that fall really is upon us. A sense of anxiety and excitement took over as my grip on the steering wheel tightened. I’m glad my friend was asleep half of the time. I could silently reflect on my summer and project my autumn. It’s a season of change, transition and harvest.
Back home in Nigeria, the villages are a quiet and peaceful break away from the city. At least my village Kono is. For Detroiters, going up north is like visiting the village. I definitely needed this break away from home, away from the noise in my head. Being out in the water definitely cleared my thoughts. My mind wasn’t occupied by my usual dealings of being a single and unemployed woman in her late twenties. Instead I was focused on the grey skies, the warm breeze, the monarch butterfly flying beside me as I kayaked towards flat rock, the lonely seagull drifting in the distance, the team of geese landing in the water, the two jet skiers creating choppy waters for me to navigate through, the smell of barbecue smoke from the shores, the distant sound of children. Every now and then I was disturbed by my friend lagging behind. But she’s good company. It was her first time kayaking.
Water itself is so peaceful and cleansing. While we were on flat rock, I decided to take a dip in the lake and it was blissful, calming and rejuvenating. Even as the waves kept pulling me in – I had difficulties getting back on the rock – I was happy.
A lot of transition is going to take place this fall, and I pray for God’s strength as I put my trust in Him.
I have been told that I can be too optimistic. I have been called naive. I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt. My head is up in the clouds.
Knowing my own personal journey, I have to keep my head in the clouds and be optimistic. I have experienced life issues that brought me down to earth to face realism. Those were my darkest years. Having to accept the impartiality of this world.
But thank God for redemption. Thank God for reminding me of this thing called faith. How can one say they have faith and not be optimistic? With faith, you’re expected to believe and hope that something good is to come without any evidence. There’s no space for hoping for the best, expecting the worst and then accepting the mundane. That’s a tragedy as far as I’m concerned.
I was taught to have the faith of a mustard seed. That the sky is the limit. And so excuse me while I have my head up in the clouds in the midst of limitless possibilities. The air is crisp. Plus the view is great. You give yourself the chance to get a full scope of situations. To me that’s knowledge and wisdom.
And so when I get back down to earth, I am prepared. Even for the unexpected. I’m currently living an example of that. In this post I talked about how I lost my job. I wasn’t expecting it. But I believe it’s the optimist in me that has prepared me for this period. I am fully aware of the reality of consequences, but I am hopeful.
I was not created to accept what life offers me. No! For one, I’m an Igbo girl. Its in my blood to bargain. Two, I’m a Christian. I have faith. And faith does not accept what the world brings me. Its a fight for what I’ve worked for and deserve.
So be aware of the worst, work towards the best, hope for the best, expect the best.
A sea of red as soccer aka football fans gathered to watch Manchester United take on Liverpool at the Big House in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Big House, officially known as Michigan Stadium is the football stadium of the University of Michigan. It is the largest stadium in the United States, and the second largest in the world. We’re currently in the middle of the International Champions Cup where European football clubs compete in friendly matches in Europe, North America and Asia. Over a hundred thousand fans came together on a beautiful sunny Saturday evening to witness their favorite teams play; A luxury for us American residents. The air rumbled with excitement and cheer as individuals from all walks of life – shout out to all the Africans I spotted which was pretty much every black person – unified by the colors of their jerseys sang their football songs and drank their overpriced beverages. $10 for a can of beer…Heineken and Dos Equis!!!!
When you score a free ticket to see Femi Kuti, Grammy nominated, world-renowned musician, son of music legend, Afrobeats pioneer and political activist Fela Kuti, you go.
I watched in awe as this 56 year old danced, jumped, sang, played and engaged the eclectic crowd. The kind of crowd I have been anticipating to find in Detroit; young and old, of different races and ethnic backgrounds under one roof in harmony. Well, there was one instance in which this tall millennial African American man was about to fight a short baby-boomer Caucasian man. I honestly didn’t care for whatever the reason was behind the dispute, they weren’t about to ruin a positive night for the rest of us.
The concert ended around 11:15 pm. Femi decided to take pictures with everyone after the show. However, I had a 9 am interview the next morning and a 35 minute drive home so chose to leave right after the encore.
From the jovial movements of the musicians, and gyrating of his dancers in their glow in the dark tribal outfits, to his flawless continuous breath saxophone playing and politically driven lyrics, the vibe was energetic and positive. It was totally worth my weeknight.
P.S: Someone remind to get a photo pass the next time I attend a concert. A very polite staff member approached me, and asked me to put away my camera lens with further explanation. So I had to use my cell phone. Which reminds me…I need a new cell phone.
I just realized that I have been living in Michigan for two years and a week. My feeling about this place has been sort of like an on and off relationship. Sometimes I see the potential and get excited about living here, other times I get bored, fed up, and left wondering what the end goal is. But there’s something about Michigan, particularly Detroit that keeps pulling me back. I can’t put my finger on it, but my gut is telling me to be patient and stick it out. I get this sense of purpose especially with my career and relationships, that my time here is going to bring about a major impact not only on myself, but the lives of others. I just wish I knew what that purpose is. Actually I wish I knew if my gut is right or if it’s just fear and the hassle of change that’s preventing me from leaving.
So maybe I came at the right moment, assuming this city does successfully rejuvenate itself. To be honest, I do have a few career moves I have written down that would work perfectly in Detroit. Unfortunately, a current life event has taken the wind out of my sails leaving me drifting. So in the meantime, before I catch some wind, I’m trying to make sure I enjoy the blessings around me, maybe even catch some fish…alright, I’m done with the whole sea navigation metaphor. But you catch my drift, right? Okay, now I’m done, lol.
On the 4th of July, all types of Africans came together for their annual picnic in Detroit. Different countries and ethnic groups set up tents and entertained the passerby with food and music. It was a joyful occasion.
I took particular notice of the children in their patriotic outfits playing a game of football aka soccer.
In today’s America, I couldn’t help but think about the unfortunate image that immigrants have always had in this country. This country was established and built by immigrants for centuries. And yet, immigrants have always been looked at as a threat to society, criminals and unwelcome. Yes there is the law that should be upheld, but when that law dehumanizes particular foreigners, I view that as a problem. It’s painfully obvious that the system is terribly broken. If only they can all come together in agreement and find a solution, instead of pointing fingers and name calling each other.