What My Visit to Haiti Taught Me

As a traveler, I do not fancy myself on visiting remote destinations for the benefit of touring the country.  My desire is to truly immerse myself in the culture and to learn as much about the culture as a possibly can.  That typically has been the case for all of my trips.  However, my recent visit to Haiti taught me so much more than I expected.  I dispelled a few myths, I experienced the joy, beauty and grace of a country abandoned, and I learned more about myself in five days than in five years.  Below are the top 10 things that Haiti taught me (in no particular order).

  1. Truly, only the strong survive.
  2. Laugh, love, live, and learn to smile.
  3. Not everyone will see your beauty, but God and small children will.  There is no need to conform to anyone else’s standard of beauty.
  4. If you have access to clean water, you are more blessed than you will ever know.
  5. If you have access to free education, you are indeed blessed.
  6. Education is a privilege, not a right.  Never take it for granted.
  7. Beauty is not physical nor is it tangible.  It is spiritual.
  8. Surrendering to God’s will yield benefits that exceed your wildest imagination.
  9. Those who have the least know sometimes know the most.
  10. Do not stop climbing the mountain because it seems to high; the view from the top is amazing and is worth the climb.  Sometimes you have to face your fears head on, don’t quit.
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May 2017 – Favorite Caribbean Island List

Another month, another island recently visited.  As of 30 May 2017, I have only four islands remaining to complete my second bucket list.  The islands that I am following are based on the list found on the caribbeantravel.com website*.  God willing, I will visit two more island during my birthday month.

30. Dominican Republic
29. Puerto Rico
28. St. Barthelemy
27. Saba
28. Turks and Caicos
25. Cayman Islands
24. Curaçao
23. St. Eustatius
22. Bonaire
21. Aruba
20. Bahamas
19. Bermuda
18. Haiti**
17. Anguilla
16. Martinique
15. Dominica
14. Trinidad and Tobago
13. British Virgin Islands
12. St. Lucia
11. United States Virgin Islands
10. Guadeloupe
9. Cuba
8. Antigua & Barbuda
7. Barbados
6. Jamaica (but still #1 in my heart)
5. Grenada
4. St. Maarten/St. Martin
3. Belize
2. St. Kitts & Nevis

And still sitting in the number 1 spot…… St. Vincent & The Grenadines

 

* List is based upon the destinations found on Caribbean Travel
** Latest entry

And the Grammar is Horrible

Ever heard the term “speaking the queens english”?  Well, it’s typically used to describe someone who uses “proper” grammar.  One who doesn’t split verbs, leave the “g” off a gerund ending, or use creative words.  However, who is to actually say what is right and what is wrong?  It would be nice for people to take a step back and just think for a second (prior to correcting someone’s grammar) whether or not the language that the individual is conversing in is actually their native language.  I find this to be particularly annoying by individuals who are only well versed in one language, but always want to correct someone who speaks 2 or more.

Even when correcting someone who is a native speaker of a particular language, it is important to know that certain regions, cultures, and communities actually have a language that is unique to that area.  “Come back yuh hear?”  Of course it is not the king’s english, but very few people would not know that actually is a way of saying “Please come back.”  If someone is “fixin” or “fenda” do something, that just means they are about to do something.  No shock there.  And as far as those bad “chirren” are concerned, oh well those are just some high energy country children who have a lot of energy.

What seems to be “horrible” to one person, is just a normal way of having a conversation to another.  This post was actually inspired (for lack of a better term) by the individual on facebook who chastised someone’s use of the english vernacular, without considering that person’s background.  Clearly the person who made the comment is a Rhodes scholar and never used lazy english.  But, for those of us who are travelers, love to learn, and are love experiencing various cultures, we can appreciate the cajuns in Lousiana, the geechees in the carolina’s, and those southerners in northern Florida.

In this blog, I try to utilize proper grammar; however, depending on the day, you may get a bit of jamaican patois, dirty south twang, trini slang, or caribbean kréole.  What can I say?  I am a citizen of the world and a creature of my environment and I make no apology for dat!  I doh apologize!  Me nuh apologize.  You understood me, right?  LOL

 

(Of course you know spellcheck is going to obliterate this post).

April 2017 – Favorite Caribbean Island List

The favorite caribbean island list has been updated once again and I slowly marking off the second bucket list.  There are only five more islands left to visit, based on the list* that I am following.  With each new visit, I learn more and more about myself and learn to appreciate the many, many blessings that I have in my life.  As I have always said, you learn more traveling than you can learn in the a classroom.  God willing, I will achieve island number 30 before the month of June ends.

29. Dominican Republic
28. Puerto Rico
27. St. Barthelemy
26. Saba
25. Turks and Caicos
24. Cayman Islands
23. Curaçao
22. St. Eustatius
21. Bonaire
20. Aruba
19. Bahamas
18. Bermuda
17. Anguilla
16. Martinique
15. Dominica
14. Trinidad and Tobago
13. British Virgin Islands
12. St. Lucia
11. United States Virgin Islands
10. Guadeloupe
9. Cuba
8. Antigua & Barbuda
7. Barbados
6. Jamaica (but still #1 in my heart)
5. Grenada
4. St. Maarten/St. Martin
3. Belize
2. St. Kitts & Nevis

And still sitting in the number 1 spot…… St. Vincent & The Grenadines**

 

* List is based upon the destinations found on Caribbean Travel
** Latest entry

Dinner is Served

One of the benefits of being a traveler is being exposed to the local cuisine and finding the hidden gems in the places that I visit.  Although I am NOT a foodie and have a rather particular palate that is worse that a child, I do enjoy pasta, some seafood, and of course carbs (yeah, my inner fat gyal just said that).  I have visited all 50 states and had the pleasure of sampling the dishes of many restaurants and eateries; however, the places listed are the most memorable and often pop up on my repeat offenders list.  Enjoy and feel free to share you favorite dining spots as I am always looking for recommendations.

 

  • Big Fish
    South Main Street in Grapevine, TX
    – Really good bang for your buck
  • Kingston 30
    North Brown Road in Lawrenceville, GA
    – The rice and peas… lawd ah mercy
  • Allison’s Restaurant
    Dock Sq in Kennebunkport, ME
    – Good Lobster
  • Supreme Fish Delight
    Camp Creek Parkway in Atlanta, GA
    – Great bang for your buck and the fried okra is heavenly
  • Captain Georges
    Richmond Road in Williamsburg, VA
    – All you can eat seafood buffet for less than $30.  Where can you go wrong?
  • Pappadeux (Colorado and TX locations)
    – The crawfish étoufée… making me drool now.  A bit pricey, but worth the money.
  • Coops Place
    Decatur Street in New Orleans, LA (French Quarter)
    – Be forewarned, this place looks like a dirty biker bar.  But when you order the food and let it touch your tongue, you WILL order seconds to go— and those seconds may not make it out the door.
  • Bourbon Heat
    Bourbon Street in New Orleans, LA (French Quarter)
    – The fish and crawfish is divine and the service is A+
  • La Rosa
    LeJeune Road in Coral Gables, FL
    – Great mojitos and a salmon dish that is like 8 feet long.  Okay, not 8 feet, but a good 6 inches.
  • Natures Bistro
    Terminal E of the Atlanta-Hartfield International Airport
    -I will miss a flight for their vegetarian chili.

Modesty While Aboard…Even in Warm Climates

For those of us who live in cold climates, we just love to make a quick escape to warmer weather and temperatures and journey to places we long to visit.  Although warmer temps typically allow one to shed the coats, long pants and exchange boots for flip-flops, it is important to remember there are limits to everything.  Being aware of your environment can save you from embarrassment, harassment, and possible punishment (physical or financial).

You may be asking yourself, “hmmm, if it is 100 degrees in my target country, why wouldn’t I wear my spaghetti strap maxi dress with the plunging neckline?”  Well, it depends on where you are traveling.  While that type of attire may be appropriate in Grenada or Jamaica, it is definitely not appropriate in a place like Dubai.  Same heat, different culture and you must adapt to that culture.  It does not mean that you have to walk around mummified from head-to-toe, but you must blend in and be respectful.

So, what about those people who are visiting the beach.  It is perfectly fine to wear swimwear in town, while you are on your way to the beach, right?  Um wrong.  Although you may be vacationing in a beach town and within walking distance to the beach, it is highly advisable to cover up.  By cover up, I do not mean wear a sheer cover up while walking around town.  I mean, wearing a top and bottom over your swimwear.  Once again, please be mindful of your environment.  While a pair of booty shorts over your swim shorts will not cause anyone’s eyes to blink in Miami (FL), you would cause heads to turn and older women to clutch the pearls in North Yorkshire (UK).

Many museums, restaurants, and other locations abroad enforce strict dress codes at their establishments.  So it is advisable for one to research the cultural norms and dress standards before purchasing the plane ticket for your next destination.  As a woman, when preparing for a trip, it is advisable to always pack a sweater, scarf, wrap, and long sleeve shirt, if you are visiting a destination where you need to be a bit sensitive to the dress standard.

 

So, what is the bottom line.  Although the temperature may tempt you to wear skimpy clothing while abroad, always be considerate of your new environment and mind your wardrobe.  The inconvenience of hiding “the girls” for a week pales in comparison to wearing stripes.

Traveling to the New America

Unless you have been under a rock, stuck on some remote island with no communication devices or contact with other people, or do not have a television, computer, or access to print media, you know that there has been significant shift in the state of affairs within the united states.  Most notably is the travel band that was imposed by 45.  Now, I know some individuals will read this and immediately say, “oh another whining, crying democrat!”  Well, guess what?  I am Not whining and crying and I am NOT a democrat.  I am an independent thinker who is a humanist.  But, before all of that, I am a christian.

My friends and family expand the horizon with respect to race, creed, religion and every other box that one could check.  Therefore, you could imagine my sheer frustration, embarrassment, and disgust when this “selective” Muslim ban was instituted— the first time.  Now, a second version of the ban has been implemented and it is no different from the first.  While some people try to mix words and use colorful jargon to say that this is “not really a ban”, it is indeed so.  Any time you prohibit, bar, or deny someone access to something or some place, that falls into the category of a ban.  The chief motivating for the ban was touted as a method of protecting americans and keeping the states safe.  Of course an educated person can figure out that couldn’t be farther from the truth at all.

So, what is it that I can offer people, of Muslim faith, who journey to this country where some people have forgotten from whence they’ve come.  First thing, not all individuals who live in this country are in agreement with this atrocity of a mandate wrapped in hate.  Second, I know it may not seem like it now, but this too shall pass.  Trouble doesn’t last always and hate cannot stand in the presence of God’s love.  Third, and perhaps this should have been first, YOU. ARE. WELCOME. HERE.  EVERYONE in this country, unless you are an ancestor of the indians who were here first, the true inhabitants, is an immigrant.

So, while this post was not necessary one of my normal travel posts, I felt that I should use my platform to spread peace and love when ignorance and hatred receives way too much media attention.