This year marks my fourth year in the travel gang. I was 21 years old when I experienced my first study abroad. Since then, I have traveled to 14 different countries. Puerto Rico is my most favorite place on earth. Living here has opened many doors for me. Since I've started to reflect on my journey, I've come up with a list of some of my 2016 favorite travel locations and experiences. My cousins and I like to call it the "Passport Games".
I recently spent Christmas and New Years in Kingston, Jamaica with my best friend's family. This trip was the best way to end 2016 and bring in 2017. Spending time with the family allowed me to truly experience Jamaica. Out of all the great food, dancing, views, and love my favorite experience was going to the Bob Marley Museum. It costs $25 USD to enter Bob's home at 56 Hope Road Kingston, Jamaica. The hour tour took us on a journey of Bob's life. You felt his warm vibrations all through the walls. Each room was filled with pictures of him performing or during interviews. We got to see his old studio where Damien Marley recorded "Welcome to Jamrock". I got to touch the lion's tail that hung in the studio's corner. We walked through his bedroom down to the room he was shot in. The end of my tour was complemented with a documentary, and I got to purchase some souvenirs from the gift shop. The trip left me smiling from ear to ear as I felt transformed by being in Bob's presence. The irie energy is alive and well. I will never forget that feeling.
In November I visited Bridgeport, Barbados to present my research on African-derived Spiritualties at the “Islands-In-Between” Conference, at The UWI-Cave Hill campus. This annual conference focuses on the literature, languages, and cultures of the Eastern Caribbean. Not only was the conference incredible, but my stay at Becky's by the Sea was unforgettable. Ms. Davette owns a beautiful peach-colored home near the beach. Her rooms are impeccable, and the view is to die for. During my stay the house was managed by Ms. Jenny. She was the sweetest Guyanese woman I had ever met. She greeted me with a big smile and hug. Our nights were filled with lots of laughter and wisdom. It was so pleasant to have met Mama Jenny because she reminded to inhale the blue skies, and exhale the grey ones. She said, "Child remember always do your best, and look your best." To this day we still communicate, and I'm blessed to have met her.
I spent the summer in Accra, Ghana doing research on Mami Wata, a water spirit. My time was split between Yiri Lodge, at the University of Ghana, Legon campus and my cousin’s home in Cantonments. This was my first time in Africa, and I was welcomed with a lot of love. I was reminded to be the light and never be ashamed of my black pride. My favorite part was getting to finally meet my cousin Melissa. She came from Liberia and stayed the weekend with me in Accra. We shopped and ate in Osu, visited Sankofa Beach House, and spent our nights reminiscing and learning about each other. It was so cool to be so similar even though we grew up in different parts of the world.
After Ghana, I traveled alone to Marrakesh, Morocco. It was Ramadan so I felt like I was having an "Eat, Pray, Love" experience. The moment I got to my Riad Jnane Mogador, I got the relaxing day package which included a Berber hammam body scrub plus a relaxing massage, and dinner. The next day I visited Essaouira with Great Travel Morocco. The city was so beautiful and the seafood is delightful. That evening I met a German dancer who encouraged me to stay on my journey. I even made friends on my way to Ouzoud Falls. They were a Colombian couple who were living in Madrid. I ended up staying with them for a night when I visited Spain.
Traveling is the best thing that has ever happened to me. I seriously cannot imagine my life without leaving my comfort zone. I have been able to grow in many ways, and I've met the most interesting people. I've always worried about what will I do in the future, or how can I make a difference in people's lives. I realized that it's good to plan ahead, but never forget to be present in each moment. I'm blessed to have the opportunity to expand my horizons. We should never be afraid to move forward. We should never doubt our journey. If we stay persistent and resilient, we can accomplish anything.