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Meet GN Dom staff… Alina Estrella!

She young, bubbly, and ambitious… Meet GN Dom staff- Alina!

Road Trip Mallorca… Summer 2013!

Some highlights of my trip, in the beautiful island of Mallorca!

Don’t get stuck in Palma (as picturesque as she is)!… Hire a car and drive!!

 

Volunteering with GN Dom… 30 Second clip!

I’m having an amazing experience volunteering with Good Neighbors Dominican Republic. I just started this week and I’ve already had the opportunity to visit different projects. Here’s a quick 30second video I put together of our trip to Chinguelo region to enrol local children for sponsorship.

Annual check-up … ‘Stats’ unveiled

WordPress kindly notified me that it’s the anniversary of my blog: travelmakerkai.com!

As it’s a year since I edited ‘this is a wordpress blog’ to ‘a black girl’s perspective…’, perhaps now is the best time to do a deep and thorough evaluation by inspecting my stats. Sort of like a full body check-up of my blog mass! Despite the many lows; loss of motivation, the weeks or even months of awkward silences not publishing any posts, my blog still feels relatively healthy with enough content to cover any exposing bones… whatever the stats reveal!

I’m pretty sure every new blogger starts off enthusiastic to share with the world their perspective on a subject they are passionate about. Blissfully unaware, that subject has (most likely than not) already been written about by hundreds of bloggers! Never-the-less, there is no perspective quite like an individuals’ own. Hence why blogging is such a phenomenon- it seems there’s space for just about everyone!

Most bloggers have probably been ‘stats addicts’ at some point, if not the very beginning. Expecting a flood of readers to come rushing through as soon as ‘publish’ has been clicked. Or the blogging community to come out in their numbers to view the new comer.

I put my hands up, that was once-upon-a-time me (relapsing a few times admittedly… So I’m a recovering addict)! Eagerly checking up on the rise in page hits at least once a day. However, like my weight-watching phases, stats-weighting can be tiresome and demotivating at times when the figures aren’t increasing so quickly (or in the case of my weight, my figure isn’t looking quite like the figure 8)! The earlier stages of starting a blog would prove to be my most testing. Would I continue to write posts lost in the blogosphere or give up writing a blog entirely?…. after all, who was checking me out anyway?

Thankfully I persevered, even if I was just writing for a few ghost readers!

A year on and how far have I come with blogging?

By clicking on ‘summaries’ and ‘All-time’ found on my stat page, I can begin the summary of my annual checkup showing my top ten results in each category. An informative way to discover who my readers are, where they are from, which posts and pages they’ve made popular and what they are searching for when search engines recommend my blog… I got a few surprises with that one!

My top 10 views by country:

Country Views
United States FlagUnited States 2,689
Italy FlagItaly 2,573
United Kingdom FlagUnited Kingdom 2,062
Brazil FlagBrazil 1,225
Ghana FlagGhana 244
France FlagFrance 242
Canada FlagCanada 207
Nigeria FlagNigeria 200
Germany FlagGermany 197
Switzerland FlagSwitzerland 93

So it seems I’m a hit with the Amercans- thanks guys! Italy never fails to show me some love- grazie mille! Strong support from the UK- I couldn’t have done it without the red passport!! I’m really glad to see Brazil in the top ten despite the language barrier. Spending 3 months in Brazil was the best decision I could have made despite the unfortunate circumstances. It was a pleasure to discover my Afro-Braziian roots, get my first ever press pass (covering the carnival in Bahia), and finding myself spiritually and mentally in Rio. Saudades!! I’m glad to see Ghana and Nigeria also in the top 10 countries showing their support! Chale you guys dey be!

My top 10 posts and pages:

Title Views
Home page / Archives 3,626
A lighter shade of Black… Observations of racial identity in Rio 397
Africa 358
“Go Brazil Go” Spike Lee documents on Brazil 353
Pictures 265
About MakingKai 245
Sugar, spice and all things nice… A few of my favourite foods! 217
Carnival da Bahia… Ouro Negro! 154
South America 151
Fears of a Travel Addict… Right of a wo(mb)man 149

Top 10 “clicks” linking onto my page:

URL Clicks
travelmakerkai.files.wordpress.com 628
travelmakerkai.wordpress.com 230
gravatar.com 69
Facebook 22
en.wikipedia.org 19
blackwomenofbrazil.com 18
blackwomenofbrazil.co 18
rarethoughts.wordpress.com/2012/11/29/sex-is-overrated-but-only-in-the-wrong-context/ 14
jerusalem365.wordpress.com 14
maps.google.com/maps 11

Top 10 refferals from other sites

Referrer Views
Facebook 1,029
Search Engines 1,006
Twitter 91
couchsurfing.org 63
dailypost.wordpress.com 61
mail.yahoo.com 60
oneika-the-traveller.com/sample-page 56
rarethoughts.wordpress.com/2012/11/29/sex-is-overrated-but-only-in-the-wrong-context/ 46
WordPress.com Reader 30
WordPress Dashboard
Search Views
travelmakerkai 18
travel making kai 17
http://www.travelmakerkai.com 12
brazil food 7
go brazil go spike lee 6
afro blocos bahia 6
http://www.travelmakerkai wordpress.com 4
kai lutterodt 4
travel maker kai 4
travelmaking kai 4

There are times when I lack inspiration and simply dont know what to write next. But i discovered that by regularly viewing the searches search engines have recommended to my site, i can write specific posts tailored to those searches, if I haven’t covered it already. And I have hundreds to choose from. A great way to broaden my readership!

Though Im pretty sure who ever was searching for ‘sexy black favela girls‘, ‘sexy black women porn pictures‘, ‘topless sarongs‘ left my blog feeling a little disappointed and will have no reason to return! Thanks Google- but really?! Well, they say sex sells!

‘Stats’ ain’t nothing but a number!

There you have it. I’ve laid out my stats for all to see the naked truth unveiled!

So I won’t get so hung-up on who’s checking me out everyday… Monthly or quarterly is healthier option.
Sure there’s no harm using my stats to measure my blog up, but to what exactly? Last i checked, blogging isn’t a competition! There are no guidelines to ‘how many hits a day, week or month’ a blogger should be making. Like with the scales in my bathroom, I’ve learnt to avoid weighing myself daily! A better mentally is to understand that I’ll get out what I put in (kind of like going to the gym, eating healthy etc).

Thanks for reading…. Cheers to another year (and greater stats results!)

Don’t forget to pass by my visitors book to sign your name and country… Would love to know who you are!

When Rodallo came to London!!

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Rodallo station in 2011

By now you’ve probably established I have a soft spot for this quaint traditional Piedmontese farm village called Rodallo. Neatly tucked away in the suburbs of Turin, in close proximity to neighbouring town Caluso.

When my ‘adopted’ Rodallo family- Elvio and Esta, told me they were coming to London… Well, it was only right that I finally return a favour by hosting them! A small token of my appreciation for the endless hospitality they offer me (and whoever I’m accompanied with) whenever I visit northern Italy.

My central London apartment is a far cry from their homely village farmhouse. But the plus side of it was that they got an exclusive taste of Soho! Walking distance from most tourist attractions and few tube stops from the rest of the ‘Rodallo group’ staying in nearby South Kensington. As well as English breakfast every morning prepared by myself 🙂

Myself and Rosa with our 'niece and nephew', and with Elvio and Esta.

Myself and Rosa with our ‘niece and nephew’, and with Elvio and Esta last summer!

My best friend Rosa, also an avid fan of Rodallo after I introduced her to the village last year, was on hand to bridge the language barrier. Rosa took the opportunity to announce to group of ‘over 60’s’ (except one member who proudly claimed she was ‘underage‘ and therefore ineligible for a travel discount!) that she has plans to move to Rodallo in the near future!… Even more reason for me to visit regularly!

Of course, the British weather was traditional as ever even at the start of our summer- grey! But never-the-less the Rodallo group had a blast!!

Here are a few pics from when the Rodallo came to London in June!

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Mama Lou’s big, glorious wedding!

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The women in my family have always been a symbol of strength; both physically and mentally. They are the backbone of the family, the nurturers, advisers and my teachers. Firm disciplinarians, yet quick create laughter together with their playful conversations often minced with (sexual) innuendo! I learnt through watching my Aunties, how to be a woman. To accept my curves with pride, to stand strong in my beliefs and most importantly to be an independent woman.

So strong are my role models. Maybe too strong at times… I often wonder; exactly where do men fit in the picture?!

So it was a heart-warming surprise to get an invitation from my aunty Lou, Mama Lou as she’s often called, to attend her wedding!

And what a glorious one it was! The Lutterodt women came together to get our outfits perfect. There was something handmade (my aunt Marian sewed her own dress), something bought and something borrowed (Aunty Nicky’s hat topped off my outfit, and the jewellery courtesy of aunty marion added a touch of bling). The Lutterodt men played their role too, looking dapper in their fresh suites!

A picture of perfection!

From the ceremony, Mama Lou’s numerous outfit changes (my aunties don’t do things in halves- it’s all or nothing at all!) straight through to the very last dance. Mama Lou, very much a perfectionist, couldn’t have planned it any better. Nana Obuobi – Queen Mother of Meyera, Greater Accra, brought a cultural Ghanaian touch to the traditional English wedding. Even the British weather was on point with sunny spells. Simply glorious!

What I really loved about this day was seeing my Aunty, an influential role model, surrender to love and happiness. An example that us women can still have our qualities of strength and be soft for love 🙂

The cherry on top of the wedding cake was that I caught the bouquet! Much to the delight of my elder aunties! I can’t help but love their team spirit cheering me on, patiently waiting for me to settle down…

No pressure then!

Vacancies are open. Who what’s to make an honest woman out of the travelmaker?… Don’t all come running at once!

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50 shades of blue… Mallorca!

I was relieved to leave behind the grey shades of London in exhange for the beautiful island of Mallorca for Gerry’s 50 shades of blue birthday in June! I got the ‘save the date’ almost a year in advance. There were no excuses for me to not be there- despite my own shades of feeling blue which were soon a distant memory once I arrived!

The dress code, ‘Burning Man’, was an ingenious idea, bringing out the free-spiritedness in Gerry’s elite crowd of friends. We came together as one to celebrate the milestone birthday of an extraordinary person… There was no where in the world I would rather have been that night!!

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I booked my accommodation using Airbnb- the online accommodation site to stay with locals. Ironically this is how I met Gerry over three years ago! I couldn’t have asked for a better local experience in Palma than with my Spanish host Alumudena. We instantly connected the moment I walked through her door. I arrived as a stranger and left as a friend!… The beauty of using Airbnb!

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Arriving in Haiti… My journey on the island of Hispaniola pt2

Pt2 video on the island of Hispaniola… Arriving in Haiti!

Rodallo festa del pesce!

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Summer just isn’t summer without a visit to one of my favourite villages in northern Italy.

This year I have the pleasure of sampling the tasty delights their annual fish festival.

Perfect for a pescetarian like myself!

Buona petito!

Dressing in the dark… When will Ghana’s electricity shortage be addressed?

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An expert at putting make-up on in darkness… ‘Light-off’

“Light-off.”

It’s a phrase that takes me back to my childhood in Ghana. A typical scenario being; I would be in the middle of taking a bath, and just as I’m about to rinse off the soapy white lather from my skin- I would catch my breath!

It’s not the shock of the cold water I am about to splash over my body that has caught me off guard. It’s the fact that all of a sudden, I am now standing in in pitch darkness. A normal evening routine of bathing before bedtime would rapidly become a chore as I struggle, with my eyes sealed shut with panic, to aim for the bucket filled with water to wash the soap off my face. What’s even more terrifying is that my older cousin Kay could creep up behind the closed door at any moment and chastise me in his then childish rascal manor by whispering: “Mummy wata is coming to get youuuuu..!”

Light off!

Oh-ho (typical Ghanaian worrisome sigh)!

Fast forward 20 years. During my recent trip back to Ghana, arriving at night to my grandmothers unlit house except for a few flickering candles, I soon learnt that not much has changed. Except that I’m now an empowered woman since my trip to Brazil where I discovered that mummy wata is celebrated as a Goddess. A far cry from the taboo I associated with bath-times.

Without sounding like some ‘high maintenance’ girl who can’t go a night without electricity because it brings back damaging childhood memories of having to bath in the dark, I’d like to clarify that those memories have in no way scared me as an adult! However please bare in mind the humidity! Without electricity there is no air to act as a cool breeze to aid me into sleep. Or even a breeze to shoo away the blood thirsty mosquitos!

Ok, so in some parts of the developing world electricity is a luxury, but this is Accra- not the middle of the Sahara desert! Only two years ago Ghana’s economy was placed as the fastest growing in the world (for the first half of 2011 by EconomyWatch.com). Still standing firm, it’s the fastest growing economy in Africa and is marked as one of the top ten fastest growing economies in the world.

And what do we have to show for it?… Quite a lot actually.

Except when the power cuts out. (Say it with me; “Oh-ho!”)

Light off… Whoever plays with the control switch must feel like a god! Let there be light *flick up* and there was light… *flick down* Or maybe not!

A loud annoying drone crescendos into the background of the city. The generators are on.

My frustration with the ‘light off’ situation is especially intensified at night. Forget sleep! It’s at night when the city comes alive with the ‘big ballers’ step onto the stage where the constantly charged limelight awaits- Accra’s social scene. From restaurants to bars and clubs, it seems there’s either too much happening at once or not enough to supply to the demand. As with any rapidly developing country, there are high expectations to be met. And those expectations include appearance. If anything, I think Ghanaians are taking it back to the ‘old days’ (I use that term losly not to offend anyone from that timeline), when there was pride in how you dressed. This pride I’ve inherited from my grandmothers, my mother, and my aunties. The ladies in my family know how to dress- with or without “light-off”. So why do I find it so difficult to deal this the situation? I’m a new generation. Spoilt with the luxury of abundance in the west, yet hungry for the fast ride taking place in the ‘westcoast’. “You can’t have your cake and eat it.” My aunty Marian often says. But cake is to be eaten no?

I was in my grandmother’s house in Kolegona during the Easter, preparing to go to KOD’s Rythms on the Runway, when the lights when out. Within minutes my younger cousin came rushing with an emergency torch lamp for me to use. I stood in front of the full-sized mirror inspecting the damage done… The damage I’d done to myself that is, due to dressing in the dark! The off-white bluish light did no favours in suggesting the truth about my appearance. It didn’t tell me if I’d missed a spot while apply my makeup, or if I had rubbed enough shear butter on my prone-to-dry-skin bare legs. I left the house tall as ever in my heels, but striped of my confidence in my appearance.

I dressed that night (and on many other occasions) in darkness, yet I headed out into Accra’s bustling nightlife to sample the trending delights the capital of my developing country offers. Golden Tulip Hotel; the venue for the event I had been looking forward to. The hotel with every bulb pulsing with electricy, in stark contrast to the home I’d just left; glowing with flickering shadows of candle light. That night I mingled with VIP, drank champagne and experienced a social event that could satisfy western standards. We’re eager for the rapid change, but the lifeline that keeps it going is still in crisis. Like my aunty would also say; “charity begins at home.”

If there is a way to address the ‘light-off’ crisis so I don’t have to get ‘dressed’ in the dark, I’ll be a very happy woman during my stays Ghana! Of course, I’m using getting dressed as a metaphor (to address the main issue). There are greater consequences to lack of electricity than loosing a dress sense in pitch blackness.

We can cover up the naked issue of Ghana’s ‘light-off’ situation by buying expensive generators and even protect its modesty by becoming accustomed to it. The only pro in that is I’ve since become an expert at putting on makeup in the dark thanks to my numerous electricity shortage experiences! If that’s not stimulating enough, then like myself, what you really want to know is; when will Ghana’s electricity shortage be fully (ad)dressed (in kaba and slit) once and for all?

On a serious note, how much further can Ghana’s whirlwind development go with ‘lights off’s?

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social scene laced with champagne.. while city experiences lack of electricy

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