My Experience at the Cape Coast Slave Castle

Visiting the slave castle was one of the main sites of importance that I was looking forward to experience. As many know, I did my AncestryDNA test a few months ago and I know the origins of my ancestry. While majority of my ancestry comes from Central Africa, going to the castle still meant seeing what my ancestors endured and somehow survived.

I probably could’ve stayed in the museum portion of the castle alone. I like to read every word of each description when I go to museums of historic importance. When I saw the shackles, ropes, and branding I was in shock. Those tools were just the beginning of what one faced during captivity. It was sad to see how the other parts of the Triangular trade reaped so much from slavery yet in the end and in the present, those same African countries face more challenges and economic struggles. One of the displays showed what was traded for humans, ivory, and gold and it was irons, glasses, and guns. It confused me to see simple things like plates and cups being traded for the valuable assets of entire humans and ivory. Plates and guns were way less influential in building an empire like America, but still the trade was in tact for centuries.

IMG_4951

IMG_4972.JPG

IMG_4967.JPG

IMG_5008

I wish I had more of an emotional reaction going to the castle but it just didn’t happen. I think the constant conversations during the program in the efforts to prepare the few African American students for the castle, somewhat distracted from actually getting the experience. We were told to prepare for tour guides that may make somewhat inappropriate or joking comments during a matter we felt were serious. We were told that surrounding the castle, there would be shops and markets around. We were told that the same coast that was the last bit of Africa that slaves would sea, was now used for fishing and that there would be boats all around the coast. Apparently, Ghanaians had moved on from slavery in a way that African Americans hadn’t. And so being told this several times throughout the trip, somewhat took away from the experience for me to figure it out and process it on my on. I think that’s why I just went in without really being able to think about its importance, in an effort to not become upset at the way the site appeared to be treated. Maybe if I had visited the castle by myself, or perhaps the Elmina Castle, I would have had a different experience.IMG_5009.JPG

It still was powerful to step foot in the actual slave dungeons. It was dark, stuffy, and I immediately felt claustrophobic just after 5 minutes inside. Feeling claustrophobic was so minor compared to everything that happened in there. And people were in those dungeons for MONTHS. All of the things I take for granted now like being able to drink as much water as I want, food, water, and basic humanity were ripped away from my ancestors who had to endure slavery. I can only thank God that he gave them the strength to make it through such a long lasting nightmare.

IMG_5003

IMG_4974.JPG

IMG_5025.JPG

The castle is strongly beautiful with the waves rising against the shore, its wild to think so much pain and suffering happened in those premises. There was even a church built on top of one of the dungeons. People would actually worship right in the midsts of their own evil doings. They still thought they were holy. They saw nothing wrong with what they were doing. It made me think about the times we are in now and how there’s so much that society turns their head to. People really can be so dark and cruel but I just hope that the world will get better and learn from their mistakes.

IMG_5044.JPG

The Vivid Volta Region: A Warm Welcome

Volta Region

It was about a 3 1/2 hour drive and I made sure to load up on snacks and podcast downloads for the road. I had conducted my first interview in Ada, and I was excited to continue with my research. We stayed at Freedom Ho hotel, which was one of my favorite locations of the program. By this time during the trip, I was completely over eating chicken, which was the central theme of my dietary challenges for the following weeks to come. For the next few days, I was ordering tuna and club sandwiches, with a side of French fries.

Ewe Language and Culture Classes

In Accra I had daily language and culture classes for Twi. I was feeling quite confident with my ability to interact with people at the markets and for general greetings. In the Volta region, Ewe is the most common language and so I had to shift gears and attempt to learn a new set of words. In short, the main phrases I picked up on were “woezor” (welcome), “akpe” (thank you), “in dii” (morning), and “neon yen ye” (my name is).

Mafi Gborkope Village

Most of the time was spent in the village of Mafi Gborkope. When I got off of the bus, I was welcomed by the entire community. There were drums playing, and several people dancing in the center of the meeting. It was a welcome ceremony of over 100 people that were excited to welcome students into the community. Groups from our program had come to this village in previous years, so this community knew we were going to be doing interviews and other activities to learn about their culture. When we stepped off the bus, all eyes were on us and I was told that we would be dancing. I didn’t know what to expect but the atmosphere was very lively and welcoming. There was a village chief who sat directly across from my group. He gave a speech in Ewe, which was then translated by our guide for the trip. He prayed and gave thanks. A tradition of pouring out alcohol was then conducted and wen were officially welcomed by the chief.

One by one, dancers would pull people from my group to dance in the center. I wish I had a recording of me doing the dance but I was killing it lol. After the dancing, all 9 students received a bracelet symbolizing that we were welcome into the community at any time.

The village had basic resources for people to survive. Coming to this village was a different perspective of Ghana and showed me the drastic differences in resources that people have or don’t have. The houses were very simple, with an outside kitchen that I used when helping prepare a meal. The bathrooms were all outside and consisted of a concrete type room and a concrete ground with an opening at the bottom so things can just run down to the soil. Nobody was even checking for wifi. Yet everyone was just living their life and going about their day. The living conditions were very different to me but the people I saw were laughing with one another, playing games, talking, and still living. They still had what they needed and were a community that was there for each other.

IMG_4839.JPG
Greeting from community members
IMG_4837
Official welcome from the chief
IMG_4605.JPG
Jumped right in during pottery making class
IMG_4865.JPG
Look at my baby bowl!
IMG_4588
Homes

Volunteering

Our volunteer project was helping lay the foundation for a new community library. One of the hardest things I did was balance water on my head. I don’t know how people go back and forth between the lake and the construction site, but ya girl was TIDE. I’m pretty sure I only did 2 rounds, but that was more than enough for me lol. I was trying so hard not to drop the buckets. I think I was more successful at shoveling the rocks from the huge pile and putting them in the wheelbarrow. I had to stay in my lane. I also collaborate with someone to move sand from one area to another, and carry other materials to the site. It was hard work honestly.

IMG_4817
After a long day (a few hours) of work
IMG_4816.JPG
Just a lil break

Cooking

I helped (or so I think I did) prepare dinner for one of the families. It was a traditional meal called Banku with tilapia soup. The entire process was a lot of work. And to think, these women cook full meals like that every single day. First of all, just cutting the okra took me three times as long as the women who was guiding us. I was so used to a cutting board and didn’t want to cut my hand, but I look next to me and the woman had finished a whole handful of okra in the time it took me to cut one! To cook the food required the use of coal, a sturdy pot, and water. The cooking oven was made out of what seemed to be clay, and was mounted to the ground. It was very hot to be near the fire and took a lot of energy to stir the banku, which was a doughy type of food that needed to be consistent churned or else it would burn. I stirred with all of my might and my arms sure got a good workout. The crushed peppers and onions sure looked like it would be an amazing salsa, but it was mixed in with the chopped okra, and fish. It was a full meal that could feed a family of 4. It looked like a nice meal and it was cool to see the outcome look tasty and filling when tools were used that I had never used before.

IMG_4573
The kitchen

Batik Making

I saw just how intricate fabric design making could be when I was able to see the batik making process. Batik is the use of oils and wax to create patterns and designs for fabrics. I’m very proud of my headwrap that I made. Ir really just picked out a stamp design and the color, but it was still a success.

IMG_4624.JPG
At the Batik shop
IMG_4621
A pattern is created once a stamp is selected. The stamp is then placed in a hot wax. The hot wax dries up on the fabric and represents where the color won’t be able to show.

Yam Festival

We happened to be in Ho during the annual Yam festival.  It’s a festival celebrating tghe cultivation of harvests, particularly yam. Everyone in the Ho region came out onto the streets dancing and singing. It was like a Ghanaian carnival. I went to the nighttime celebration and they were playing all of the hits. By this time, I had a few favorite Afrobeat songs and could sing along a little bit. The fireworks were a site to see and it was just great seeing everyone hyped and dancing.

IMG_4811

IMG_4802 (1)

IMG_4813

 

Ho was an interesting place and I learned a lot from the people in the village. I wanted to share the academic part of my trip and so I’ve copied my field report below. A field report is basically to summarize what you did in each region and your findings.

What was your goal for the period? 

My goal for the interviews in Ho were to speak with several women entrepreneurs in the village. It was my first time working with a translator and with this new aspect, I wanted to strengthen my communication skills and ability to think on the spot.

Type of Prep Work?      

After my first interview experience in Ada, I prepared for the next set of interviews by revising my interview questions. There were several questions that weren’t useful for answering my hypothesis and so I cut those questions out. From my experience in Ada, I recalled that there were a few intro questions such as ” when did you start your business” that made the interview flow smother. I wrote those questions down to be a permanent interview question.

What I Actually Did

 I was surprised that I got to interview 5 women in one day. The questions that I had revised and prepared had to be reframed once I learned that that none of the respondents owned smartphones. Since smartphones were central to my research topic, I had planned several questions relating to what the smartphone was used for. I changed certain questions to find out what the women used to do things are normally the role of smartphones. My next step would be to write down the alternative questions to ask if a respondent doesn’t  own a smartphone.

What I learned about my research topic and research process      

I interviewed 5 women who were all selling food. 1 selling goods, 2 were cooking and selling kenke, 1 preparing fish, and 1 preparing various warm dishes. The use of mobile phones were present but not smartphones. These mobile phones were used to call and text customers. I also learned that word of mouth was used to market their goods and face to face interactions with customers and other sellers took place at the market. An aspect of my research is examining views people have regarding women entrepreneurs and in this community, the women said that what they produce is needed to feed and this necessity doesn’t allow for biases to be held against them as entrepreneurs. The women are the ones making food for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The community wouldn’t have meals if it weren’t for these women who are taking the time to cook and sell what is needed. I learned to be flexible with the interview stage of the research process because some settings and situations may not be ideal. For example, about 4/5 women I interviewed were busy actually making the meals or selling to others as I was trying to ask questions. With the interviewee who wasn’t busy, I still had the awkward setting of about 10 other people surrounding me as I was asking questions. I tried to ask the most relevant questions and made sure I thanked them for their time because I could see how busy things were.

 

-POP

An Accradible Week in Ghana

Greetings Daizies from the Motherland!

I’ve been in Accra now for 6 days and it feels like I’ve always been here. I haven’t been able to post blogs as frequent since I’m busy with the study abroad program and the wifi isn’t as strong in our lodge area. But I wanted to share how things are going so far!

I arrived in Accra on Friday night. The entire trip here felt like the longest trip ever and I was so delighted to finally land. It took a long time (almost 45 minutes) for both of my bags to arrive on the conveyer and some time to get through immigration. The first night I stayed in an airbnb. The host was gracious enough to give me a ride from the airport. I couldn’t see much in the dark but I noticed the women walking on the sidewalks carrying crates and products on their heads. Prior to arriving, I didn’t know if that was still something that was done here but I’ve been amazed at the amount people can balance on their heads here. After having only about 4 hours of sleep within the 24 hours of flying and traveling, I prepared for bed quickly and slept.

Picture2

(airbnb in Adenta region)

Jet lag was something else because I woke up bright and early at 6am and couldn’t fall back to sleep. I could hear the roosters rising early as well. Saturday was the day I met with the rest of the group for my study abroad program. I haven’t yet talked about the program I’m in for school so I’ll take some time to share a little bit about it. I’m in Ghana for a 4 week program studying communication technologies in Ghana with a focus on research. I’ll be doing field research to answer a research question of my choice. From the very beginning, I knew I wanted to learn about women in entrepreneurship in Ghana. I want to become an entrepreneur and I wanted to discover what it is like for women here in Ghana as entrepreneurs. I know back home in the US there are challenges that women face when starting businesses and I want to examine what the experience is like for women here.

The airbnb was located in an area called Adenta, and from Adenta to the Legon region was about a 35 minute drive with traffic. Our program takes place at the University of Ghana for the first week and later we will be moving towards cities and rural areas in northern Ghana. After settling in the guest house dorms on campus, I took a nap and had dinner shortly after. Saturday was a short day mostly moving from one area to another, so I consider my first full day to be Sunday.


3
(University Guest House)

After finally getting a sufficient amount of sleep, I was ready for a full day of exploration. We had an hour long language and culture lesson first thing in the morning. We are learning the Twi language ( pronounced like tree) which is one of the most prevalent languages in Accra. Our teacher is a nice Ghanaian woman full of energy. I know how to say simple things like “good morning”, “how are you” “my name is Daizha”. Something new I learned is that each person has a name based off the day of the week they are born and if they are a boy or girl. My name is Akua (pronounced like Akreea) since I was born on a Wednesday.

Food
4
I love the fresh fruit here and can’t get enough of it. There’s a night market at the University of Ghana campus where there are outside stands of fresh fruit and hot food. I’ve gone there almost every day since arriving in Accra. My favorite fruits are the juicy watermelon, bananas and pineapples. You can get a medium sized bag of fruit for 2 cedis which equals about 50 cents! I feel like I’m eating a lot healthier here lol. I drink tons of water and way more than I did at home.

5
I’ve had lots of jollof and fried chicken and I’m liking plantain chips more and more. I also like a Ghanaian dish called Plasava (not sure of the spelling) but it’s like a spinach type dish usually eaten with meats.

Surprisingly I like fish now. I never ate fish back home. I would even put a blanket  at the bottom of my door when tilapia was being cooked because just the smell of it made me nauseous because we had it for dinner so much. Here in Ghana, the tilapia was cooked with onions and peppers. The fish was very soft and falling off the bones. It tasted amazing and I’ve had it a couple of timesz

6
7
Today (Thursday) was the day my craving for American food hit me strong. I had to make a trip to Accra Mall for some Pizza Hut to satisfy my craving of cheese. It tasted like the best pizza I’ve ever had in my life.

People

There’s a calmer and more relaxed feeling of being in Accra. I felt like I adjusted easier to Accra than many other cities I’ve visited. I love seeing an abundance of melanin everywhere I go. I notice that even though I’m also black, when me and my other African American friends are walking, tons of heads are turning to look at us and people are often starring. I was wondering if I would blend in here but it’s like the people here can tell I’m American before I even open my mouth. Nonetheless, people have been very kind. When shopping, getting food, or many interactions in general, people have been pleasantly surprised when I’m able to say a few words in Twi like  “madaase” (thank you).

Site-seeing
8

9

I learned a lot at Kwame National Memorial and from visiting the museum inside of the memorial area. The story of the fight for Ghana’s independence is truly inspiring.

10


A few days ago, I stumbled upon the Museum of Science and Technology and saw dozens of beautiful artifacts and art pieces. The museum featured more art than anything with a mix of modern and traditional art pieces.
11


12


1314


It’s always fun going to the markets and each day I’m restraining myself from buying every cute thing I see. The Art Center and Osu market areas were vibrant areas for shopping and this weekend I’ll see what the nightlife looks like in Osu.
15

This blog post is probably longer than I expect since I’m writing all of this on my phone. I just had to share my experiences in real time as they’re happening. There’s so much more that I want to write about but I’ll make notes of all of the cool things I’m learning in Ghana and he sure to make posts sharing more about my time here.

16

You can follow my Instagram @divadaizha for more frequent picture uploads!

-POP

10 Things You Probably Forgot to Pack + Full Study Abroad Packing List

Hey Daizies! If you’re getting ready to head somewhere, I’ve compiled a packing list that I hope you’ll find helpful. Starting out I listed 10 things that you know you need but might end up forgetting. Then in sections I’ll list out things you should bring. As I’m writing this, I’m keeping in mind things I needed when I studied abroad as well as for my next trip to Ghana! I’m trying to pack as light as possible as always.

10 Things You Probably Forgot to Pack

Portable phone charger
Flip flops
Umbrella
Eye mask
Adapter
Sunglasses
Advil/Tylenol
Swimsuit
Headphones
Neck pillow

Clothes

1 pair of jeans ( no matter what the current weather may be, you never know how soon a rainy day may hit)
3 sun dresses ( one that can easily turn into a club outfit)
2 pairs of capris
5 dressy shirts (for pictures)
3 club outfits
Tank tops (easy ways to switch up your outfits)
2 pairs of shorts ( dark or denim)
TONS of underwear (doing laundry in foreign countries can be a hassle)
Socks
T-shirts ( Like the free ones you get from events)
Lounge shorts (for workouts and to sleep in if that’s your thing)
Walking sandals
Comfortable gym/tennis shoes
Combat boots or booties (if traveling for 3-4 months during colder months)

For the Plane

Small over the neck purse ( easy access to your phone, passport, and wallet)
Hand sanitizer
Hair wrap
Sunglasses
Vaseline (lip balm)
Lotion
Neck pillow
Headphones
Phone charger
Empty water bottle
Health
Advil/tylenol
Emergen-C packets (immune system boost)
Peptobysmal

Face & Body

Earrings &a jewelry
Deodorant
Face cleanser
Vaseline
Toothbrush
Toothpaste
Floss
Sunscreen
Bug spray
Nail polish
Your favorite makeup (the right concealer shade is hard to find

And for hair, don’t forget to check out my What Should Be in Your Natural Hair Travel Kit?| Checklist for Packing blog post!

-POP

Study Abroad #3 to Ghana | Does Preparation Get Easier?

Eti Sen?

In 9 days I will be boarding my flight to Accra, Ghana for one month and reality has finally set in. For weeks I was kind of just chilling but then when writing out my list of things I need to get done, I realized I couldn’t quite chill yet! Since it’s my third time going abroad, the chaos and panic wasn’t on my mind the entire summer like it was last year when I was leaving to Italy for 4 months. After the rather swift and smooth process of applying for another visa, my planning consisted of writing in my journal on a page titled ” Things to do in Ghana.”If anything I have been counting down the weeks and days to get up out of here and be in a new place. Still proactive, and keeping lists, I wanted to check and make sure I had everything I needed to take off soon.

This check-in I had with myself 2 weeks prior was so important.

One thing I would tell myself 3 months ago would be to DOUBLE CHECK which vaccines are required. Three months ago I had a doctor’s appointment with a travel consultation allegedly included. I had 3 vaccines/pills ordered but didn’t remember what they were for. So I called in, because I’m supposed to pick them up a week or so before I leave so I can start start the typhoid pills. I noticed that other people in my program mentioned they got the yellow fever vaccines. When I called to check if what I was getting was for yellow fever, the people at the pharmacy told me they weren’t. The yellow fever vaccine is the ONLY required vaccine and a certificate of vaccination is actually required to get into the country. I had a mini panic attack when I realized I literally would’ve landed in Ghana and been stranded at the border without this vaccine. Suddenly, I was scrambling to find clinics near me that provided the vaccination and worried that there were other vaccines that I might need. I spent 3 hours comparing prices because the yellow fever vaccine isn’t provided by my regular insurance provider. I was so confused because after leaving my appointment 3 months ago, I was told that I was good to go. Irritated, confused, and in a panicky state of mind, I booked an appointment for a vaccine I would have to pay $377 out of pocket for.

The vaccine portion was the most chaotic part of preparation but I got it done and am officially vaccine prepared for my trip. Had I have known what I know now, I would have booked a travel consultation appointment with my school during Spring Quarter, along with my regular doctor’s appointment,  because the consultation would have been free. Now that its summer and I’m not enrolled in classes, the consultation isn’t free and I had to go offsite for a clinic open during times I wasn’t at work. I would also make copies of my vaccination history so I wouldn’t be confused as to if I needed other vaccinations. I probably could’ve saved money going elsewhere had I have known I only needed one shot.

This trip was different than others because of the whole vaccination process. It’s important to double check and allow some weeks to make sure you have everything you need to be safe and healthy to travel.

Moving left and right along, making packing and shopping lists ahead of time really help me to stay organized and not miss things! There are so many functional and small things I need to buy before I leave. I’m trying to slowly accumulate what I need so I’m not running around like a chicken with its head cut off the night before. I’ll do a separate blog post on things to pack when studying abroad, a natural hair specific post can already be found here.

School and work wise, there are some applications I want to submit before I leave just so I can be in the right space and mindset to apply for things. I’m trying to be as productive and proactive as possible so that next week I can spend time with my family and relax before flying/travelling for about 24 hours. I found a helpful checklist buried somewhere in my program’s drive that I’ll be checking off this week. For some reason, I was set on not taking cash with me and just getting cash from the ATM machines at the airport. Good thing that I am not the same today as I was last week and even yesterday because I realized I could just avoid anything weird happening with my card and me scrambling trying to find an ATM machine  by already having cash on hand. So I’m checking off the first two portions today and taking local cash with me by ordering it from my bank.

Things to do before leaving

  • Call credit card company and bank to make sure they know you will be travelling (so you can make transactions)
  • Get ATM/debit card if desired. Note: you may be limited in which ATMs you can get cash from
  • Scan passport and email copy to yourself and the program directors
  • Set up Skype/Viber/etc account. Add the phone numbers of family/friends
  • Send your travel itinerary to the program directors
  • Complete IRB training. Send copy of certification to the program directors
  • Scan passport and email copy to yourself and the program directors
  • Get all immunizations and medications (i.e. malaria)
  • Bring yellow fever vaccination verification

*Sidenote* I really need to try out these wigs I call myself trying to wear for the trip until I get my hair braided while in Ghana. Having a hairstyle I like is so important and if it requires braids, I need to have it done a few days ahead so that I won’t have a pounding headache on the plane. My ideal style, is to wear my wigs but if that doesn’t work I’ll go back to the Havana twists I loved so dearly.

Now that I’ve gotten the most essential thing out of the way (vaccines) I feel very energized to knock off more things on my to do list. Having prior experience is helpful because I know what to expect/ how I will react to long flights and new scenarios and therefore I am able to plan and pack accordingly. I’ve got some more blog entries planned in my head for pre-departure so stay tuned!

-POP

What Should Be in Your Natural Hair Travel Kit?| Checklist for Packing

It’s the second half of summer’17 and in the spirit of vacation season, some of you may have experienced the cumbersome planning process when it comes to packing as a natural. Weeks before a trip I am usually thinking about how I will style my hair while I’m away. Based on the styles I plan, I can pack accordingly. While I have a tendency to overpack, I never want to cut corners when it comes to planning for my haircare regimen.  However, it is totally possible to pack a thorough natural hair travel kit that doesn’t involve taking your entire bathroom arsenal of hair products. Here’s how to do it:

Think functional

  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Leave-In
  • Sealant

These are the main product areas I make sure to have when I am traveling and plan to wear my fro out at some time. Depending on the length of stay, the size of the products I take may vary. If I am only going to be gone for about a week, like with my trip to Cabo, I go to Walgreens and purchase tiny 3oz empty bottles that are TSA approved. I then put product into those bottles and double bag them using a ziplock bag or plastic bag. Short trips don’t require a separate hair product haul, just take what you’ve been using and put them into tiny bottles and you should be set!

Longer Stay = More Flexibility

You have more flexibility if you are checking in a luggage and with that comes the opportunity to add to your list of necessities. I could go a little while without Shea butter for a few days or even a week, but thinking about an entire 4 months without Shea butter would be hard to fathom. Now that I use it for more than just my hair, I would definitely crave moisturizing my body after a long warm shower. Furthermore, I can get by with using water and a leave-in conditioner for a braid or twist out, but an amazing curl enhancing product takes things to the next level. This comes in handy if I know I’m about to have a cute day and want to take some flawless pictures. As of now, Taliah Waajid’s Curly Curl Cream and Shea Moistures’ Coconut and Hibiscus Curling Cream are my top two favorites. With that, Shea butter and a curl definer are added to the list of necessities.

  • Butter
  • Curl Definer

Stock Up on Your Faves

For longer trips, think of products that would be hard to find overseas or whoever you’er going. For example, when packing to study abroad for a semester in Italy, I knew I probably wouldn’t come across my favorite Cantu Leave- In Conditioner. There aren’t sections in the store isles dedicated to natural hair in Europe. It took months to scout out where I could find ethnic stores in Milan and if I was headed to a city with more black people, like London or Amsterdam, going to the hair store was always apart of my itinerary.

After 2 months I finally found a hair store in Milan, after joining the right Facebook groups and getting solid directions on where to find the store. The brands were quite limiting and a simple bottle of leave-in conditioner would cost to the equivalent of $15 USD and for  smaller size than I would normally get. At this point my Cantu leave-in was almost gone but I refused to pay twice as much for half. I had to use other brands I wasn’t quite familiar with and didn’t like as much. In an attempt to pack modestly, I only brought one jar of leave-in knowing dang well I use about 2 every two months. My advice here would be to PACK YOUR FAVES IN BULK. You will thank yourself later.

Another product that’s hard to come by is a sulfate-free shampoo. Even when I finally found the hair store in Milan, and the one in Rome, the shampoos had sulfates and other ingredients I normally avoided. Again, I had only brought one bottle and definitely wished I had brought more. But have no fear, there’s always DIY cleansing methods and ACV became my best friend.

Logistics

  • Shea butter melts even if its in your checked luggage or carry on. Avoid wasting your product by bagging your butter.
  • Tape the lid shut for you bottles and creamy products or IT WILL LEAK!
  • Even after taping, things can get rough when transporting. Put your bottles in bags to avoid loosing precious ounces of your products
  • If you do end up buying products from the markets or grocery stores, make sure you use Google translate app to translate the ingredients to make sure you’re not buying a product with harmful chemicals or ingredients

With that, I hope preparing for your natural hair while traveling is a little easier and you can focus more on the trip itself! In short, think of what you can’t live without and the basic necessities for your hair to be happy and healthy.

-POP

A Queen in Cabo| Spring Break 2017 in Mexico!

It’s been a long time, I shouldn’t have left you… without a dope blog to step to…

After one of the most stressful quarters ever (mainly from having to adjust to the fast past academic lifestyle post-study abroad) I was hyped to get out of the country for spring break vacation. Since being back from Italy, I wanted to explore more of the beautiful places close to home. Spring break in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico was the ideal choice because I could experience a new culture, enjoy great beaches, and spend less than $400 on a round trip plane ticket. For 6 days, I got to relax and enjoy the beautiful city of Cabo!

Arriving in Cabo

Figuring out transportation from the airport was a little tricky at first. Prior to departure for Mexico I had done some research and discovered that there’s a bus from Terminal 2 that will take you into the city and the downtown area where the hotel was located. It worked out to where the bus stop was visible right outside the Terminal 2 exit of the Cabo San Lucas Airport. We were allowed to pay in either pesos or the $2.50 USD equivalent.

Getting Around & Things to Do

Cabo was a lot smaller than I imagined. Within the first day, I saw most of the city and could figure out how to get around anywhere by foot. With perfect weather in March, it was desirable to go on a stroll to the Santa Maria beach, which was about a 15 minute walk from the hotel.  The Santa Maria Beach was the main party and tourist beach with Mango Deck being the main attraction for springbreakers. Near the Cabo Wabo area was Destiny Massage, which offered a 70 minute massage for only $20 which is unheard of in the USA. It was so amazing and I felt very relaxed afterwards.

 

Nightlife

The clubs in Cabo were all located in one strip and were F-R-E-E THAT SPELLS FREE! With free entrance, it was easy to hop from one club to another. The notorious El Squid Roe was super active and had multiple floors that were all open. It reminded me of several music video scenes. The music wasn’t always popping because it was heavy on pop and EDM type of music but as the night went on there were several sequences of songs that were popping. Sunday night surprisingly was the most lit.

I had looked up clubs before arriving of course, and Pink Kitty was one of the top results but fell short of its status. It was fairly empty but I still had fun dancing to mid 2000s throwbacks with other springbreakers. The club next to El Squid Roe was a top contendor with a more sophisticated layout and with a more variety of songs on the playlist. La Vinquita was another club in the area that played more Latin beats and it was fun to show off my bachata skills!

Food

I could not get enough of Mexican food. I literally almost had fajitas every single day. There was this restaurant near the Marina called Sharky’s. They served delicious fajitas with rice, beans, and chips and salsa for only $7.50. This was also the place where they served liter margaritas for $6! Deals, Deals, Deals! I ate at this restaurant for half of the nights I was in Cabo. The other meals were from various authentic restaurants and I was always satisfied.

IMG_3647
Beef fajita meal at Sharky’s 
IMG_3537
Frida Kahlo photo

Activities

IMG_3563
Fish pedicure

The activities were my favorite part of Cabo! The last two days of the trip were day-long activities of snorkeling and then zip-lining. It is best to book activities in person, as they are much cheaper than online and you have the chance to bargain. Never settle for the first offer or even the first vendor. At the mall, the prices for zip-lining were much higher and for a less inclusive deal.

The snorkeling adventure was super fun because I got to see the Arch of Cabo up close and relax on the way to snorkeling. Because I know how to swim, I expected snorkeling to be easy right away. However, when I jumped into the sea I realized it would be such a workout to literally keep my head above the waters! The water was super cold and it was hard to breathe through the snorkel tube because I was out of breath and heart was beating fast at first. Once I relaxed and slowed my breathing down, things became a lot easier. I could see the tiny fish swimming below my feet! All together, the adventure was 3 1/2 hours long and a time well spent!

Zip lining was the most adventurous activity I’ve done so far! This activity was through a company called Cabo Adventures and featured 7 different zip-lines, including the longest zip-line in Mexico. I can’t believe I glided across mountains in Mexico and even had the nerve to do it upside down! That’s right, I zip-lined upside down. There was one obstacle called the pendulum, where I stood at the side of a cliff while harnessed, and then jumped off like and was swung to the other side. I totally underestimated how high up I really was because as soon as I left the edge, my stomach dropped and I just started screaming. It felt like I would never stop falling! I loved seeing the nature and experiencing the beautiful outdoors. I’m excited to do more outdoor activities in the future!

My goal this year was to travel to another country/content and I’m so happy I’ve been able to accomplish traveling to another country and in the summer will be headed to Ghana!

IMG_3773
Living life!