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For the love of Jamaica

20150601_143726I just concluded my third visit to Jamaica :). I try to explore something new each time I visit. I didn’t visit a new city or do any of the activities I intended to do :(. However, I explored Kingston :). My first time is Kingston was in April 2014 for a conference. I didn’t get to see the city though, we went from the hotel to the university. I snuck/sneaked out during the conference to see the Bob Marley’s museum and Devon’s house. Anyways, let me tell you all about Kingston (my new favorite city in Jamaica).

I got into Montego Bay at 2pm and surprisingly made the 3pm bus to Kingston since I failed to make reservation. Got into Kingston around 7.30pm and took a taxi to Reggae Hostel. Again, didn’t make a reservation but luckily there was a dorm bed available :). It’s been a habit of late for me not make have any plans for my travel. I went straight to bed since I didn’t sleep the night before the trip because off course I waited to the last minute to pack and finish up some things.20150601_14014620150601_183750

Sunday, I met up with a couchsurfer and we went for ice cream at Devon’s House & later for a stroll at the Emancipation Park. Oh my, the line at Devon’s house was tres long! We waited about 20-25 minutes in line to get ice cream but I guess it was all worth it :). Finally, I got to walk in the Emancipation Park. See, this park is right in front of the hotel I stayed at for the conference. Didn’t get to walk in this because we left the hotel very early and returned very late. Every morning, the statue stared at me or rather I stared at it. So imagine the joy in my heart or is it soul when I got to see the statue and walk in the park. Y’all already know walking is my therapy.

20150603_115337Sunday night, I went to something called Dub Club. It is not your ordinary club, as a manner of fact, I no longer enjoy the typical club scene. It stresses me out. The Dub club is like alternative church. A spiritual uprising. The music played is what you call social consciousness music. Music to uplift folks. Peace Music. Reggae Music. The ambience is dope. No judging zone. You dance anyhow your soul leads you. To top this up, the view is amazing. Since Dub Club is on the hill, you get to see the city of Kingston. What more can you ask for?  I felt peace. I embraced the peace I felt.

Monday, I went back to the Bob Marley’s museum with two French girls I met at the hostel. We also went to other tours – Tuff Gong & Trent Town. Tuff Gong is the recording studio Bob Marley recorded most of the hit album. We met an older Malaysian man who worked with Bob Marley in the studio as a technician and some sort of engineer. He told us stories of his experience working with Bob Marley. He has also visited Nigeria –specifically to Fela Kuti’s shrine. We ended the tour at Trent town, where Bob became his music career. 20150601_153410

Later in the day, I met up with a friend and enjoyed fresh coconut. At night, we went to another dub club – Inner City Dub. Same vibe as Mondays but different area. This Dub was located in Downtown Kingston on the street. Live performance, great ambiance & music as well. I recommend you attend both Dub sessions. Ask Reggae hostel for details or check out the Facebook page for Dub Club & Inner City Dub.

After Kingston, I spent two night in Ochi Rios. I went to the Dums River, met up with local friends and had a great time.

No, I didn’t do most of the activities I planned. Zip lining, encounter with the dolphins & visiting a maroon village. The cost was way out of my travel budget :(. One day.

Jamaica was the first leg of my multi-country trip. I’m in Iceland now. Going to France, UK, Ireland, UAE, Seychelles, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda & Rwanda in the coming weeks. Follow me on Instagram and Facebook for real time pictures.

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To a New Beginning

DSC01129So much has happened since my last post in May. First, I got a job 🙂 . I moved yet again for the job. I now live in the Rio Grande Valley region of Texas. I teach 5th grade ELA (English Language Arts). I love my job sometimes and other times I just don’t know. I am also a Teach For America Corp Member…….In terms of traveling, I went back to Jamaica 🙂 in July, Dallas in September, DMV in October, Mexico, Panama and Cuba in November and I’m now in Colombia. On Jamaica, I couldn’t resist the USD$250 RT flight to Montego Bay. I was super stressed after the six weeks intensive training with Teach For America and I desperately needed a break. I had just 6 days so I took the Knusford Express bus directly to Ocho Rios as soon as the flight landed in Montego Bay. I love Ocho Rios, plus it is close to the things I love such as 9 Miles (Bob Marley’s birth place) and waterfalls. I stayed two nights before decided to try something new. Off to Negril I went. I wasn’t expecting much from Negril but I ended up loving it.

DSC01103I stayed at Judy’s House – pretty cool place surrounded by nature. There I met amazing folks that made my stay memorable. I did most of the touristy things – the beach (very clean), Rick’s café and Just Natural restaurant. I will surely return to Negril :).

P.s – I have updated the Jamaica resource page….. For Thanksgiving, I always travel somewhere. This year, I went back to Cuba. Making it my third time. Cuba has its ways of making me come back. I spent a night in Mexico City on my way there and back. Layover in Panama City where I couldn’t resist going shopping. Because I was very busy prior to this trip, I barely had time to plan it. I tried reserving a Casa Particular that I stayed before but due to slow internet in Cuba, I didn’t get a response. We arrived in Havana at midnight with nowhere to stay. The ladies at the information desk got us a place in Central Havana and changed money for us (the black market rate is way better than the bank’s rate). Since it was a Sunday, we went to Callejon de Hamel when we woke up. Callejon de Hamel is an alternative Sunday service honoring the Orishas of Yoruba religion. It was amazing as usual. We spent the afternoon in Havana Vieja which hasn’t changed much except there are constructions and renovations all over the place (I think China is putting money in the development of Cuba).DSC01139 The next day, we went to Trinidad. The casa we stayed at was very close to the town center. Trinidad was very quiet and probably has the cheapest and most varieties of souvenirs. We stayed only one night and the next day, we went up to Santa Clara to see the Che Mausoleum. We had arranged a car to pick us up from Trinidad, take us to Santa Clara and drop us off in Veradero. All for 120 CUC (about USD$140).  It was special being in the Che’s museum and mausoleum again (I’m a Che fanatic). The museum had all these rare photos for him from childhood to death. His beret, uniform, gun, water bottle……..it had everything CHE! After the visit, we arrived in Veradero late evening. Again changing money on the black market. Black market rate gives us between 90-96CUC for USD$100 while the bank rate is 87CUC for USD$100. Veradero is great for the beach and resort bums. Since we did not fall under that category, we didn’t love Veradero. We left to Vinales. Oh, we got cheated big time for the car ride to Vinales 😦 . The ride was so uncomfortable. Anyways, I have always thought of Vinales as a tourist trap but I ended up loving this tourist trap. It was colder than the rest of Cuba, surrounded by mountains so fresh cool air. We stayed on the main street in a really cool casa. The next day, we went on a horse ride. My first time EVER. I had the horse to myself (scary). The guide showed us how to make it go right, left and faster. I did not use the faster one. The guide was so great because I was ready to give up after the first 30 minutes. This was a four hour ride by the way. We stopped at a cave (also first time in a cave :)), coffee plantation and tobacco plantation. The tobacco plantation was pretty cool – they showed us how to make cigar without the nicotine. DSC01054 - CopyWe later returned to Havana where we rented out an apartment in Havana Vieja. We went on a tour in one of the old cars….me like. We stopped at Plaza de la Revolucion and a park close to Vedado area. For our last night, we went clubbing with the Cubanos. We met four Cuban guys at the internet café. One was a rapper and another a fashion designer. The rapper decided to rap to my friend and I 🙂 . He was pretty good. Anyways, we went out with them and a few of their other friends. It was a great way of ending our stay in Havana. We went straight from the club to the airport (brief stop at the apartment to get our luggage). Eight hours layover in Panama City, we decided to take the free shuttle to Metro Mall. We shopped (rather, I shopped) and met up with a friend for ice cream. The mall had this scale so I decided to check my weight. I lost 6 pounds 🙂 (p.s, I had been on a diet for a month – I eat chicken or fish with mixed vegetables, sweet potatoes and rice once a week and 3miles walk five times a week). Feeling proud:).DSC01248 Returned to work, my students took a mock exam. The average went up 14percent from the benchmark exam they took in September. The majority of them showed improvement so makes me feel that I’m doing a decent job educating themJ. New beginning because this year had me trying stuffs for the first time and challenging me in many ways…..

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