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Hanging with Afro-Italians in NYC!

Fred Kuwornu BlaxploitalianFred Kuwornu has started a movement, perhaps without even intending to. But then again, that’s to be expected of the Italian-Ghanaian filmmaker and activist whose films 18 IUS SOLI and Inside Buffalo, examine issues of race, ethnicity, and national identity in Italy’s contemporary multi-cultural setting. Continue reading

Finding myself in unexpected places… A journey towards spirituality

At the Sathya Sai centre....

At the Sathya Sai centre….

As I am writing this post, Sai Baba has his gaze fixed on me.

There’s no avoiding the warmth in his eyes and smile radiating onto me even from a picture hanging on a wall above my head. Perhaps this was my inspiration to wake up early this morning with a strong desire to write about my journey towards spirituality.

I woke up giving thanks to God first and foremost. For bringing me this far on my journey, from the Dominican Republic to Haiti. Thankful to God for being the pillar inside me that makes me fearless and driven. Yet the comfort I need when I’m lost and confused. For being my guidance towards finding myself in least expected place…

At Sathya Sai centre in Port-au-Prince.

In Haiti.

I believe in the power of the universe, the power of positive forces connecting and creating kinetic cosmic sparks of energy. It’s this type of energy I believe was created when I connected with Guylene in LA two years go. The New-York born Haitian photographer and I shared a car-pool with other Couchsurfers as we made our way from LA to San Diego for Brazil Day festival in 2011.

When I told her just months ago that I wanted to come to Haiti to volunteer, she immediately put me in contact with Carlos Suarez; one of the coordinators at the Sathya Sai World Foundation centre in Haiti. And it’s here that I have been for just over a week volunteering. Finding myself relish in a contentment that doesn’t even include having a social life (though this is something I will be happy to re-establish in due time)!

Seeing the children at the camps smile when we bring them their food is a priceless experience. And these children aren’t quick to smile at just any camera! They’ve been betrayed before. Lured into false pretences that their smiling faces captured on a shooting machine would bring them change. When that change never arrived, they protect their integrity by hiding their faces from the betrayer, from the camera.

And yet they opened their eyes at me, widened their smiles to me, extended their arms out for me. I would love to take full credit, but the truth is it’s down to the respect and trust they have for the Sathya Sai centre coordinators and staff, knowing that everyday without fail (excluding sundays) their food will arrive in the back of a delivery truck.

Journey towards spirtulity

Journey towards spirituality

Spirituality will mean something different to each individual. For me, it’s about allowing myself to let go of mental weight, expectations. Detoxing from aesthetics and sexual pleasure (though neither are excluded) to focus my energies on loving myself internally. Allowing myself to be happy in its simplest form; contentment. When I’m in this state I exude gratitude to God. By loving myself, I am loving God

I believe there are many channels to enhance our connection with God. My relationship with God is personal and spiritual. I know God has a purpose for me, how ever I can only act upon it when I have a clear mind. And with so many distractions from living in a bustling city such as London, it’s when I travel that I connect most with God.

I believe that God comes in many forms. We can connect with him by connecting with positive energy. Being thankful to the universe- our biggest source of energy is also part of connecting with God. I always try to bring back the Godliness I retrieve from my travels; contentment, the energy that keeps me sustained with glow. But it often fizzles out within a matter of days when I return to the pressures of ‘normal life’ and I’m left feeling empty again. Despite carrying on the routine of praying each morning, before meals and before going to sleep, there’s no depth.

And once you’ve felt the power of God inside you, the energy you possess, the enhancement of contentment in your life, you know there is more to God than just saying the routine prayers of thanks you’ve been programmed to do since childhood.

I’ve experienced my world enhanced by knowing God- that is loving the being which is me that He so perfectly created. I’m not here at the centre to change my religion or be swayed into a fantasy of escapism. I’m just opening up my mind to the different channels I can use to lead a fulfilled life of happiness.

And I’m at good place to learn… From the teachings of Sathya Sai Baba.

“Do not get attached to worldly things and pursuits.
Be in the world,
But do not let the world be in you.”

-Sai Baba

Namaste.

My journey continues…

Sugar and Spice and all things nice… Seconds!

There’s always room for more delicious foods!… I revisit some of my favourite travel food moments!

A moment on the lips- a life time on the hips but always worth every bite!

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Enjoying a typical Ghanaian dish of Grilled Tilapia accompanied by fried plantain, chopped vegetables and a variety of spicy sauces

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Acai or creme papaya… why choose just one when there’s room for both?! SP, Brazil

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If it’s that ‘fast’ it’s probably not ‘that’ healthy… but it sure tastes gooood!

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Apple picking in upstate NY. I might just be a country girl deep down!… Apple sauce anyone?

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Discovered a ‘whole in the wall.’ Home cooked latin food that doesn’t leave a ‘whole’ in your wallet!

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Typical Czech dessert which we attepted to make… The best part was the first bite!

Humble Italian hospitality at its best!... Keeps me going back for more year after year!

Humble Italian hospitality at its best!… Keeps me going back for more year after year!

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My first ‘pot-luck’ dinner experience in LA! Cut straight to dessert and a group photo!!

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Enough food to make my eyes full! Florence, Italy

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My ultimate favourite dessert- cheesecake in my ultimate favourite restaurant dedicated to the art of the rich dessert- Cheesecake Factory. San Diego, USA

My ultimate Cheesecake Factory moment… Ummmm!

Chocolate… Like me!

This bubble map shows the global distribution ...

This bubble map shows the global distribution of cocoa bean output in 2005 as a percentage of the top producer (Côte d’Ivoire – 1,286,330 tonnes). Legend: Cocoa output in 2005 shown as a percentage of the top producer (Cote d’Ivoire – 1,286,330 tonnes) 100 10 1 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We are all chocolate!

Sweet and divine we are,

descending from the dirt of the earth,

the fruit of life given by Theobroma,

food worthy of the gods themselves,

our roots in Africa and its vast diaspora,

cocooned by a protective shell,

our seeds cultivated to be roasted until ‘blackened’,

how our darkness has pathed way for a melting pot of shades,

enough variety to suit ones preference and palette,

white chocolate, milk chocolate, dark chocolate…

adaptable in any way, texture and taste,

yet still as attractive to the eye,

because no chocolate can deny itself of its ancestry…

what would chocolate be without a trace of the cocoa bean?

simply a lost soul of artificial sweetness with no substance.

so lets celebrate life together!

For the earth gave us this gift so we can understand the meaning of indulgence!

savour the moments as a piece melts on your tongue…

We are all chocolate… Like me.

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Plant the seed of love in your heart. Have you satisfied your craving for chocolate today?… What are you waiting for? Release some endorphins for a healthy mentality! 😀

Couchsurfing… the couch, the guests and being hosted.

I’ve been a member of the online travel community for about 4 years. I generally use it as a means to connect with people before I arrive in another country. There’s nothing quite like the reassurance of knowing you have a friend on the other side. It really does make the world seem a smaller place…

My first experience ‘couchsurfing’ in fact wasn’t with the site. I put out an ad for a ‘house swap’ for a week or so (think The Holiday with Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet). Living in central London can really take its toll and I desperately needed out. Somewhere quiet where I could gather my thoughts. The countryside. I got a response from a lady in the Czech Republic saying she and her daughter were coming to London in a few weeks. If I could host her, she’d be happy to host me in her family suburbia home in near Usti nad Labem. That lady is Kamila, and her daughter Helen was 12 at the time. I’ll never forget the look on her little face when I turned up at Victoria station to pick them up… (did I forget to mention I’m black? Opps!). Now she’s almost 16 and her favourite music genre is Reggae (and mentioned during an African dance workshop last year that she fancied the drummer… The only black guy in the room)!

My couch has had it’s fare share of surfers! To be honest the poor thing is sinking slighty, and I can never help but cringe when someone plummets on it expecting a firm surface. Never the less I refuse to get ride of it for sentimental reasons. It was one of my first ‘expensive’ buys when I first moved into my flat. When you buy your own full-sized couch you know you’re an adult! So, it’s not going into the trash until its sunk to the ground! Besides, I’ve lost count of the number of people who have called the slight ‘sink’ comfortable.

The guests. Well, my first ‘official’ guest from couchsurfing site was just the ideal guest! Renee from Valencia, Spain (see, I do like Spanish people!) We laughed, eat together, and she was into salsa dancing to we spent an evening at bar salsa dancing the night away. Its not always a song and dance when hosting. And I’ve accepted less guests since becoming a student. However my overall experience hosting has been good. Having said that I’ve had to make it clear on my profile that I use the site for cultural exchange. I’m trying to avoid the ‘freeloaders’ as much as possible.

My home is my temple. Not a hostel.

I can understand why many of my friends, especially females friends are skeptical about using couchsurfing to host or travel. Lets not beat about the bush. You’re letting a stranger into your home! But for the best of it, it’s felt like I’ve been letting friends into my home. How do I know it’s safe for me? Gut feeling. And references are a massive help. I’ve been lucky that I havent been put in any compromising situations. At the very least my guests are respectful, even if it turns out we don’t have much in common.

And it’s not a dating website!… But I’m meeting more and more people who’ve found their partners through the site! Sure, if there’s a mutual attraction who am I to judge? And besides, the common connection is often travel. Tania, a Mexican girl I hosted two yeas ago, told me that she was talking with a guy from CS.  A month ago they got married! He moved to Mexico and they got married! Now that’s pretty cute.

But, no it’s not always cute. There are many men (and perhaps women but I’m yet to discover that) who use the site as a way lure in prey. It’s quite sickening and gives Couchsurfing a bad name. My advice is if you ever feel uncomfortable in a hosts home- leave!! A guest I had told me horror stories about having to lock herself the bathroom until morning after her host (male) tried to advance on her while she was sleeping! I urged her to leave him a negative reference to warn other potential guests about him.

If I’ve put you off couchsurfing, that wasn’t the intention! Like I say about the site- it’s a good idea. Let’s keep it safe and honest!

My lovely host Micky in Tel Aviv. World traveller… 

Couchsurf friends and host in Lisboa!

The LA couchsurf crew after an exciting Brazil Day event!

Rosa, me and my Argentinian guest Val gets the spotlight!

 

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