Perfect weather. Gorgeous beaches. And the food? Yes, the food is to live for. Oh, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the vibrant disposition of the dominicanas. If you are a beer lover, you want to try Presidente. If you consider yourself remotely close to human, you’d want to try rice, beans, and some plantains. Try it, ask questions later.
While many know Dominican Republic for the (in)famous Punta Cana; an area where spring breakers forget the mounds of research papers waiting to be submitted at colleges throughout the country and succumb to those youthful desires, Punta Cana is more than that. You can find some respite far from the maddening crowd of twenty-something year olds and enjoy some quiet time. But do you really really want to?
I’d recommend staying at an all-inclusive resort such as the Melia-opt for the adult section, if you want to get in on all the action. Fine white sand, yoga classes on the beach, champagne bottles delivered to your room, and the most gorgeous (and potentially dangerous) men could be seen galavanting around the DR. Where, you ask? It doesn’t matter…pick a street, any street.
Ever tried explaining to someone that there’s a small, but major, difference between the brand name and the country. That one letter will throw you off so quickly. I may have made the same mistake in a past life myself, but as Oprah says, “when you know better, you do better”
Colombia is excitement, culture, history and awe all rolled up into one! Whether you are visiting Bogota, Cali, or Medellin, you’ll find that the streets are filled with fun loving joyful exciting beautiful people. Yes, many of the women make implants as normal as selecting a new wig for the upcoming holiday season, but who are you to judge? Let them be great! I don’t think I had ever seen that many butt implants in my entire 37 years of existence. Cue the song, ‘Booty rocking everywhere!’
For you non-halloween loving folks, feel free to skip this paragraph (Kanye shrug) If you ever have the opportunity to opportunity to witness Halloween in Medellin, heed Nike’s advice and just do it! The feeling is electric. I’d tell you about the guy who showed up as a used tampon on the streets of Medellins next to the three wise men but we have better things to talk about. Am I right?
Cali IS the salsa capital of the world. Bring your flowy dresses and your salsa dancing shoes. Gentlemen, if the aguadenos hats are your thing, grab one and hit the dance floor.
No trip to Bogota is complete without a visit to Bolivar Square. In the middle of the square, you’ll find the most striking Botero sculptures, street artists, and great street food. Try the Arepas with cheese. It’s an acquired taste…let me know what you think. My personal all time favourite dish in Colombia is the Ajiaco soup. Mostly found in Bogota, the dish contains potatoes, corn, avocados, and capers. Can someone say delicious!
Should do: Check out the Botero Museum
Main Destinations: Bogota, Cali, Cartenega, Medellin
I’m Nigerian American! Let me tell you, we third culture folks have it rough some days. Rotating rehearsed response scripts between being American, Nigerian, and the most annoying, not Nigerian enough on a frequent basis. The “you aren’t really Nigerian” statement from my fellow Nigerians is most disconcerting as it carries a serious tone of judgement. Why so bothered, you ask? Because my Nigerians had magical dust sprinkled on them at the time of creation. Ask anyone. It’s quite true. Phrases like, “naija no dey carry last” and “Omo naija ni mi” should not be taken lightly. Who wouldn’t want to cling to all the excellence that is associated with Nigerians.
Nigeria is a beautiful chaos. The traffic, the motorcycles, the flowing garbs in various hues of reds, blues, yellows and greens will captivate you. There are currently over 182 million people in Nigeria. The giant of Africa certainly doesn’t carry last when it comes to procreating (insert side eye here) I’ve found some of the funniest people in Nigeria. If you ever spent a day on the streets of Lagos and didn’t find some event worthy of laughter, I’d strongly suggest that you check your pulse. No seriously, you should. There is always something to laugh about. A look to your left and a driver is beeping his horn telling the motorcyclist how he looks like ‘the head of a goat’ because he didn’t move out of the way quickly enough. A look to your left and the conductor of a truck overloaded with passengers is screaming while hanging recklessly from the vehicle with one hand, “Oshodi Oke, e wole e wole, ko si change o” It’s a sight to behold!
If you have plans to visit Africa and want to really experience ‘Africanness’, I’d recommend you skip Kenya and South Africa (for now) and head to West Africa -more specifically- Nigeria.
In Lagos (the former capital of the country) you can go salsa dancing, grab a local drink at a pepper soup joint, or head to a nearby beach. I’d recommend heading to one of the local markets to grab some artwork and fabric. Some of my favourite well tailored dresses were made in Lagos for less than $50 bucks. #truestory
The food is one of my favourite cuisines (nope, I’m not biased) in the world. If you want spice, I’d recommend the pepper soup. Nothing else could clear up your sinuses like some goat pepper soup. Remember to bring along some tissues, you’ll need them! Definitely try the suya. Suya is traditionally made with beef grilled over an open flame seasoned to perfection and served on a stick. Think of suya as a kebab but exponentially better in taste. Looking for something on the sweeter side, I’d recommend some puff-puff. It’s dessert but not quite dessert. Try it and let me know what you think!
I would be remiss if I didn’t write about the corruption, lack of consistent electricity, and the pollution that continues to plague the country. But what country doesn’t have its share of headaches. Nigerian continues to find its proper footing in the global arena. For all of its flaws, it is still is a place that would make your heart come alive almost instantaneously.