GRIOTS REPUBLIC - An Urban Black Travel Magazine - June 2016



TRAVELER PROFILES: Sonjia Mackey, Shenita Outland, Deidre Mathis & Alonzo Cartlidge

W H E R E T H E R E ' S T R A V E L , T H E R E ' S A S T O R Y

















JUNE 2016 | ISSUE 06

Ebony Booth

Aniya Dunkley

Ejide D. Fashina

Majida Mundial

Alicia Mitchell

Greg Gross

Alexis K.


Yvette Santos Cuenco

Kamara Afi Coaxum

Marcus White

Adrian Fanus

Jessica Cobbs

Bruce "Blue" Rivera

Shavonne Natesia


International Blog

Juleon Lewis

Archivists Note

Hello Readers!

Let’s talk about the past, present, and future...


Hands down, the Haiti Issue was our most read and

most shared issue thus far! Readers loved reading

about Haitian Vodou and the country’s “cursed

narrative.” They loved the travelers we profiled in this

issue and the Haitian destinations our writers talked

about. The most common feedback we received was

“Wow. I didn’t know about ______.” That, ladies and

gentlemen, is music to our ears.

Editors Note

So while we say “goodbye” to our May issue and say

“hello” to June, we wanted to say thank you to the

contributors who make it happen and to the readers

who make it worthwhile. We hope to continue bringing

content that you enjoy.


I saw a meme a few weeks ago that said “If you’re

dreams don’t scare you, then they’re not big enough.”

I immediately started laughing because that’s exactly

where we are right now. We have some big plans and

our only saving grace is that we are supported by a

very active and vocal community of travelers and

readers who have become invested in Griots Republic.

I’m talking about you, by the way!

We’ve created a short survey to capture your opinions

and suggestions on the direction of GR and if you have

the time, then we’d appreciate you taking it.



So let’s get into this issue...

1. We spoke to expats and

travelers from Thailand to

Guyana to Zambia and asked

them to share their “everyday

life” stories with us. The results

were heartwarming and we

hope that each of you see a little

of yourselves in these travelers.

2. If you’ve ever been interested

in learning Flamenco in Spain,

then this is the place for you.

3. Juneteenth is upon us this

month and we’ve mapped out

some of the best celebrations

around the U.S! Sounds like a

road trip to me...

4. This month we headed on

down to Houston to capture a

few of our traveler profiles and

let’s just say “people do it big in


5. Definitely check out the

special announcement from the

team over at Re:Union Music


6. African-Americans aren’t

the only onese celebrating

“Freedom” this month. Take a

moment to read up on Keti Koti.




We want to know how to serve you better. If you have a m

please visit to take our confident

We appreciate you support!



oment, then

ial survey.

An Urban Black

Travel Mag




From phrase books to cook books and beyond... The answers we received when

Griots Republic readers were asked which books inspire their wanderlust were

wildly different. Check out some of the ones that inspired us.

Selome Ameyo

Dr. Miah Daughtery

Kelly Nelson

Danielle Pointdujour

Ironically, I just posted in

my blog (


books inspiring my travels!

I will say that I have

my Rick Steves’ “Phrasebook

for French, German

and Italian” that saved my

life in Geneva!

Lonely Planet’s “The

Travel Book!”

I have a book called “Wild

Light” by Erik Stensland

on my coffee table. It’s a

photography book celebrating

the Rocky Mountain

National Park and it

inspires me, the farthest

thing from an outdoor/

woodsy girl, to want to go


“What I Did While You

Were Breeding” is one of

my faves. I’m actually

going to read it again.




I was born and raised in the

caribbean island of St Lucia. My

Son Omarion was born in the

United States and this was his first

visit to St Lucia.

One of my favorite pastimes as a

child was taking a shower outside.

You’d grab a bar of soap open the

standing pipe and indulge. There

is a purity in this that makes me

nostalgic about my childhood. It

would rain and my friends and I

would all come running outside

of our home and grab a soccer ball

and start playing in the rain. You

don’t see that in the United States

and I could not wait to experience

it with my son.

We had just returned from fishing

in the ocean and I grabbed him,

opened the pipe and watched him

erupt in laughter and glee as the

cold water hit his head. He enjoyed

it and for a moment I saw myself as

a boy in him. Something as simple

as a shower outside captures the

essence of growing up in St Lucia.

It is the simple things in life that

count and sharing that simplicity

with my son was priceless.

Place #GriotsRepublic on your IG photos and you too may be chosen.



Places where your little travelers can

nuture their budding wanderlust

Written By Kamara Afi Coaxum

Pretty soon the air will be filled with the

sweet sounds of children everywhere.

School’s almost out and with that comes

an entire summer filled with long, lazy and

warm days. While kids may have their own

agenda, parents often struggle with ways

to keep their children entertained and all

the while making sure they don’t lose what

they learned during the school year.

Parents, worry not. Here is a compilation

of road trips, festivals, camps and reading

material that spans the globe to keep even

the most reticent child busy. Pack those

bags and let’s hit the road!

Martha’s Vineyard

Head north on I-95, take the fast ferry from

New Bedford or fly and in a short while

you’ll arrive on Martha’s Vineyard. Since

the 1800s African Americans have been

flocking to the island. Families can enjoy

day trips to Aquinnah, which is known for

it’s beautiful clay cliffs. Children can hop

on the Flying Horses Carousel in Oak Bluffs

and then head over to Mad Martha’s, the

iconic ice cream shop across the street.

Be sure to check out the African America

Heritage Tour, a treat for all.

Birmingham Civil Rights Museum

This museum’s mission is to enlighten


each generation about civil and human rights by exploring our common

past and working together on the present to build a better

future. Young children can take a peek into the past by viewing

exhibits that compare a classroom for black children with that of a

classroom for white children in the 1950s. Various exhibits chronicle

the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and ‘60s.

Camp Atwater

Ideal for children ages 8-15 who love spending time outdoors, Camp

Atwater is the oldest and most prestigious African American owned

and operated camp in North America. Located in North Brookfield,

MA, Camp Atwater provides opportunities for your child to make

new friends that will last them a lifetime.

Walking the Spirit: Black Paris


Grab those passports and take a quick jaunt across the pond to

Paris, France for a Walk the Spirit Tour. The tours are geared towards

children over 10 years old and are designed to educate and

entertain. One of the stops included is Josephine Baker’s castle

and you’ll also learn about the history of jazz that spans 100 years.


Perfect for the whole family, festivals have great music, delicious

foods and allow for people watching. Continue your journey overseas

with a visit to several spirited, family-friendly festivals.

The Obon Festival, held on Shikoku Island in Japan in August, is

sure to please with stunning lantern rituals and fire ceremonies.

With events such as sword dancing and a castle party, there is

something for everyone.


PanaFest, held in late June in Accra, Ghana is a world-class event

honoring freedom and emancipation for those in the African diaspora.

There are dance and storytelling workshops accessible to all

ages. This festival is sure to be a hit.


Fire up the Kindle and start downloading books that will keep your

child well read and engaged all summer long. NprED has a diverse

list of books for children. Search using the hashtag #SummerReading

and you’ll find everything you need.




2016 Safe Skies for Africa, an Aviation

Career Academy, set to take off


Written By Ejide D. Fashina

Named after the White House Initiative started by

the President of the United States in 1998, “Safe

Skies for Africa” is an Aviation Career Academy

sponsored by the National Black Coalition of Federal

Aviation Employees for students living on the

continent of Africa specifically in Lagos, Nigeria.

The aviation academy is now entering its 3rd year

and is the bran child of NBCFAE NE Regional President

and Nigerian American Ejide D. Fashina.

Ejide is an Air traffic Front Line Manager for the

Federal Aviation Administration based out the

Philadelphia International Airport. Ejide has dedicated

much of her career to encouraging youth

to pursue careers in aviation related professions.

The annual event started in 2014 as a simple idea

with two Americans and five Nigerian based air traffic

controllers. With no idea what to expect or how

this idea would evolve the event began. Three years

later the aviation academy has blossomed into a

large annual event.

The 2016 Ace Academy has over eighteen American

based aviation employees who plan to take the long

journey to Lagos, 60 Nigerian based volunteers, over

1000 student participants and numerous sponsors.

Even though the event is aimed at students, many

of the 18 American participants have never been

to the continent of Africa; therefore, they too are

expanding their worldwide perspective and experiencing

different cultures.

The Nigerian Aviation Academy is aimed at raising

awareness and interest of students in aviation related

careers with the hopes of developing future

global leaders in aviation. In recent years Aviation

Education in Africa has been a priority for the FAA

Africa Office and the Department of Transportation.

Just as in the United States, Africa is facing high

demands for qualified professionals in the aviation

sector. The Aviation Academy provided a broad exposure

of civil and military aviation careers to approximately

1000 high school aged students from

the ages of thirteen to eighteen. They were also able

to discover a variety of exciting professions that encompass


Through out the week of the Academy, the employees

will share valuable insight on the importance of

pursuing a career in aviation, the many obstacles

they overcame to achieve their goals and the gratification

they received once those goals were met. The

students will also have the opportunity to hear from

Pilots, Air Traffic Controllers, Engineers and Military

personnel. At the end of the camp, a $1000 scholarship

will be awarded to a student.

If you’d like more information about the program,

please contact Ejide D. Fashina at ejide.fashina@ to learn more about future ACE initiatives.




By Alexandra Stewart

Under Armour Verge Low GORE-TEX® Hiking Shoe

Whether you are exploring one of the 58 National Parks of

our great nation or trekking through the rainforest of some

far-off land, these Under Armour hiking shoes will give you

the stability and support needed to navigate even the most

rigorous of hikes. They are 100% waterproof yet still allow

sweat to escape so your feet stay dry. The Michelin® outsole

with Wild Gripper rubber compound provides for excellent

traction on a variety of terrains. Available in an array of

colors. - $139.99


Sacred Joy Leggings

by Joshua Mays

Artist, Joshua Mays, takes

his afrofuturism art one

step further by making it

wearable. These leggings are

fire and you can wear them

all summer and still look fly.

Available in 4 images. $24.45


CamKix Universal 3-in-1

Smartphone Camera Lens Kit

Document your summer shenanigans

like a pro with this camera lens kit

for your smartphone or other

portable devices. This kit comes

with 3 lenses – the fisheye, wide

angle and macro lens that will

have you capturing everything

from large group shots

and wide landscapes to your

reflection in a single drop of

dew on a flower’s petal, all

with your smartphone! Made

from aluminum and comes

with a universal clip, microfiber

cloth and a carrying pouch.

Available in six different colors.

$13.99 (


Klean Kanteen

Stay hydrated and toxic-free during these hot summer months

with Klean Kanteen’s BPA-free metal hydration bottle. Made of

high-quality stainless steel that won’t impart or retain flavors

in your beverage. Comes in a variety of cool colors with your

choice of a sport cap with a silicone spout or the leak-proof loop

cap both made for easy transport. Also available with a sippy cup

top for kids. $24.94 & up


Dont Forget Fido

Collaps A Bowl

Fido can easily get dehydrated and over-heated out here in

these hot summer streets. This collapsible bowl is the

perfect accessory to take with you on those long

walks or all day outings with your fur-baby.

Made from BPA-free, food-grade silicone, it

collapses to .875 x 6 inches, expands to 3.5 x

6 inches and holds 24 oz of liquid. Perfectly

compact for travel ease. Comes in a variety

of colors. - $10 (





Budget traveler, author and entrepreneur, Deidre

Mathis, recently filed with the state of Texas to open

a hostel in the Houston area in Fall 2017. Her hostel,

Wanderlust Houston, will offer its guests an authentic

Houston experience, safe, clean facilities, organized

day tours, and more! In opening the hostel, Deidre is

slated to become the first African-American female

hostel owner in the United States.

Having traveled to over 31 countries spanning 6

continents and staying in over 50 hostels, she says

hostelling has played a big part in her saving money

during her travels. She also notes that not only is staying

in hostels a great option to save money, but it is also

a great way to meet people from all over the world.

Deidre was inspired to open a hostel in the Houston

area because she believes Houston is a great hub for

international travelers and a popular destination for

domestic travelers.

Deidre’s love of travel, her hostel ambitions and her

travel budget book, Wanderlust: For the Young, Broke

Professional has lead her to have been featured twice

in Black Enterprise Magazine and highlighted as a USA

TODAY’s Modern Woman. She has spoken at events

such as the Women’s Travel Fest Conference and

Women in Travel Summit. She has also been a keynote

speaker at many different colleges/universities and

has appeared as a budget travel expert guest on Great

Day Houston, First Coast Living, and WBTV CBS where

she has discussed budget travel tips and shared her

very inspirational story with the viewers of the morning


From Press release ““Wanderlust Houston: A Houston Hostel, LLC”

Edited for length and brevity.



By Marcus White

From the moment I stepped off the

plane at Cheddi Jagan International Airport

I was showered with kindness, hospitality

and…. Soca Music! If you plan a

trip to Guyana, you’d better be into Soca

as it seeps from every possible nook and

cranny throughout Georgetown, clearly

having fused to the souls of the Guyanese

people who make up six different ethnic

backgrounds (African, Amerindian, Chinese,

European, Indian, and Portuguese),

but whine as one nation.

I was thankful to have made it to the “the

land of many waters” and to be celebrating

its “Golden Jubilee,” otherwise known

as its 50th anniversary. I had packed everything

from black tie to hiking boots to

prepare for the myriad of activities surrounding

the celebration and I used all

of it. From pageants and flag raisings to

presidential galas and parade, I was ready

to experience Guyana in all her glory.

Although Guyana’s existence became

“known” and recorded in 1499 when Spanish

conquistador, Alonso de Ojeda, set off

to explore and “discovered” it, it wasn’t

until May 26, 1966 that the country actually

gained its independence from British

rule. Prior to independence, Guyana had

been colonized by the Spanish, French,

Dutch and the British. The Dutch brought

African slaves to the region and the British

brought indentured labor from Asia creating

another layer of culture and influence

on the indigenous people living here. Like

most of the world, each colonizer left a

mark on the people and the land and their

impact can still be seen and felt today.

This week, however, I was here to celebrate

with a nation coming into its own.

I had a few days before the festivities

kicked off and I knew I wanted to see as

much as possible of the ecological landmarks

Guyana was known for. With over

80% of the country protected from development,

Guyana is considered to have one

of the most untouched and preserved eco systems

in this part of the world.

Places like Kaieteur Falls, which occupies a

region near the boarder of Venezuela and is

the largest single jet and highest single drop

waterfall in the world at five times the size of

Niagara Falls, should definitely be added to

your “must see” list as it is a day trip with only

a 40 minute flight from Georgetown with tours

starting at $180.

Mind you, Kaieteur

is just one of ten of

Guyana’s waterfalls.

The three major

rivers: the Essequibo,

Demerara and

Berbice Rivers, the

largest in the Caribbean,

are also near

Georgetown and can

be seen on a 1-hour

bus tour. The Essequibo

has 365 islands

on it; one of

which is as large as

Barbados in size.

For me, the most

striking thing was

the Atlantic Ocean

viewed from the seawalls;

it was brown.

I expected blue,

maybe even green,

but according to nationsencyclopedia.

com, the sediments

carried on the rivers

and emptied into

the Atlantic keep the shoreline a brown from

mix of mud and sand. In all honesty, this left

me perplexed and it’s likely something you’d

have to get use to. Nonetheless, I was here to

celebrate, so beach time wasn’t a real factor.

The festivities of the 50th Anniversary commenced

and I was chauffeured from cultural

shows to concerts. I made it to the Ms. Guyana

World 2016 Pageant and parties, which

will forever be my happy place and I met the

President of Guyana, David A. Granger, a kind

man attempting to push the country forward. I

also attended my first ever road parade called

“Mashramani,” which is an Amerindian word

that means “the celebration after hard work.”

The road parade was mesmerizing with its

carnival-esque style that kept me in awe of

the many bright colors that the parade participant’s

wore and the Caribbean beats that

made my batty

(Guyanese slang

meaning “ass”)


If you plan to visit

this country there

are quite a few additional


and sites to see

that have nothing

to do with the anniversary.


it be Georgetown’s

City Hall built in

1889, St. George’s

Cathedral (one of

the tallest wooden

churches in the

world) or visiting

one of the nine

indigenous Amerindian

tribes in

Guyana, you can

count on encountering

a sense of


Georgetown is also

a fantastic launching

pad for a multi-country visit to the other

Guianas: Guyana (British Guiana), Suriname

(Dutch Guiana), French Guiana, as well as

Brazilian Amapá State (Portuguese Guiana)

and Venezuelan Guyana Region (Spanish Guiana).

I definitely plan to come back and have

already begun researching an overland plan

through Nomad Revelations. Hopefully, I’ll see

you there.

Marcus White spends his days behind a

desk and every free day in motion. A pint

of Guinness in Ireland, Shabu Shabu in the

Philippines, and custom made suits in any

number of countries only seem to appease

his wanderlust until the next trip. This is his

first written article about his travels and he

excited to share more.



A Tale of Two Countries




If I say “religious travel,” what destinations

come to your mind? Virtually every religion

has its own “holy land,” sacred sites on sacred

ground that is the distant goal of many a

pilgrim, from the most ancient time up to the

present. But an honest, open-minded search

for that sacred ground might take you to some

unexpected places on your modern world map.

Take Christianity. Were we to start talking

about a trip to the Holy Land, the first region

to come to your mind almost certainly would

be the Middle East, and for lots of very good

reasons. Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Syria, Iraq —

they all have places in the Biblical narrative.

So does Turkey, which isn’t actually part of

the Middle East, but forms a land bridge

of sorts between Europe and Asia. And, of

course, there’s always Rome, Vatican City, the

Holy See.

But what about Armenia? And especially what

about Ethiopia? Do either of these lands enter

into your thinking when you’re imagining that

dream religious journey?

They should.

Armenia, not Roman Catholic Italy, lays claim

to being the first Christian nation. That alone

would be reason enough for a Christian to want

to walk this land.That claim, however, has a

major challenger. More on that in a moment.


Is this country part of Eastern Europe,

Western Asia or the Middle East? Honestly, I’m

not sure. There’s no doubt at all, though, that

Armenia down through the ages has been a

These days,

Yerevan is the

physical heart

and cultural soul

of Armenia.

crossroads of history, much of it tragic.

On a map of the world, Armenia is a little

potato chip of a country, hemmed in on all

sides by larger and more powerful neighbors.

The country is bounded by Russia, the former

Soviet republics of Georgia and Azerbaijan,

Iran and Turkey.

At various times in its history, it has been

possessed, dominated or fought over by

almost all of them. On a per capita basis,

you’d be hard-pressed to find a people whose

history is more thoroughly soaked in their own


Yerevan holds three different distinctions in


It’s the national capital.

Its population of 1.1 million — roughly the size

of San Diego — also makes it Armenia’s largest


It’s been around since 782 BC, making it one

of the oldest cities on Earth that people still

call home.The city is celebrating its 2,798th

anniversary on Oct. 15.


The King James Bible

mentions Ethiopia by

name 45 times.

Armenia? Twice.

It sits in the shadow of Mount Ararat — yes,

that Mount Ararat, the dormant volcano where

the Bible tells us Noah’s ark came to rest after

riding out the great flood.

Yerevan was also a major stop on the Silk

Road, the great ancient trade route between

China and Europe.

These days, Yerevan is the physical heart and

cultural soul of Armenia. A café culture, jazz,

a passion for wine, nice cars, good times. It’s

also a relatively cheap destination. You can

score a 4-star hotel here for US$100 a night

or less. Five-stars go for well under $200. Into

shopping? Prices in Yerevan run about 25

percent cheaper than those in Western Europe.

There are guided religious tours available in

Yerevan that will take you deep into Armenia’s

rich Christian history, and escorted pilgrimage

tours to the most important Christian sites

around the country, most of which are open

24 hours and free to the public.

Not all of Armenia’s attractions are ancient.

You reach the ancient Tatev monastery via a

cable car suspended more than 1,000 feet

above the Vorotan River Gorge. At 3.5 miles, it’s

the longest such suspended cable car line in

the world, according to the folks at Guinness.

In 301 AD, Armenia was the first country

to officially adopt Christianity as the state

religion, a fact in which Armenians take great

pride. But was it really the first Christian

nation? There are those who will tell you that

title may rightly belong to another ancient

land… in Africa.


The land once known as Abyssinia may not

have made Christianity its state religion until

330 AD, three decades after Armenia, but its

roots in the church are at least as old as those

of Armenia.

And there are those who assert that those roots

might be even older. Among them are Mario

Alexis Portella, a Catholic priest in Florence,

Italy, and Abba Abraham Buruk Woldegaber,

a Cistercian monk from Eritrea. Together, they

wrote the book “Abyssinian Christianity: The

First Christian Nation?”

There’s no disputing the fact that Ethiopia

contains some of the most ancient and

priceless sites in all of Christendom, including

its famed rock churches. And then, there are

the castles. Yes, castles in Africa, a whole

complex of them, in Gondar.

It also holds a special place in Africa’s political

history: It is the only nation on the Mother

Continent which has never been colonized.

Ethiopia is home to nine UN World Heritage

sites, and several more that probably should


Great as its natural and historical attractions

may be, however, the best reason for visiting

Ethiopia may be its people — beautiful, ancient

people proud of their culture, their heritage

and their faiths.

Aside from its own attractions, Addis Ababa,

the Ethiopian capital, is a great jump-off

point for exploring the rest of East Africa. The

fact that the national flag carrier, Ethiopian

Airlines, has one of the most extensive route

maps across the entire Mother Continent

doesn’t hurt, either.

Armenia. Ethiopia. Even in traveling within

the context of Christianity, it’s still possible to

think — and travel — outside the box.

In 2009, Greg created a blog designed

to encourage Black Americans to go

beyond the bounds of their block and

their country. It was called “I’m Black

and I Travel.” It soon won national

honors and an international readership.

Eventually, however, he realized that

encouraging people to travel was

not enough; he had to enable people

to travel.That realization led him to

become a travel agent, and create

Trips by Greg.



Dutch Commemoration

of the Abolition of

Slavery in Amsterdam

Republished from Afro-Europe

International Blog

Keti Koti (Breaking the Chains) is the

annual celebration and commemoration of

the abolition of slavery in the former Dutch

colonies on July 1st. It will be celebrated in

the City of Amsterdam in the Oosterpark on

July 1, 2016.

With performances of Surinamese, Antillean

and Dutch music groups, the Keti Koti festival

will again contribute to the broadening of

the celebration and commemoration of the

abolition of slavery. After the resounding

success of last year it is expected that the

festival will attract more then 20,000 people.

The Keti Koti Festival begins with a large-scale

parade, the “Bigi Spikri” (“Big Mirror”), with

orchestras and brass bands. The parade starts

at 1:00pm from the Stopera (City Hall) and

will end in the Ooster Park, where the national

commemoration takes place at the National

Slavery Monument.


There is some controversy between the major

black communities in the Netherlands about

the commemoration date. For the Surinamese

community the 1st of July is also the official

commemoration day in Suriname, while for

the Antillean community in the Dutch Antilles

the official commemoration is held on August

17th. And also the name is different, in the

Antilles it’s called the “Tula commoration”

and not “Keti Koti.”


For more information on this year’s festival in

Amsterdam, visit

or The National Institute for the Study of

Dutch Slavery and its Legacy at

“Keti Koti,” is

Surinamese for

“breaking the


On July 1, 1863 slavery

was abolished in the

former Dutch colonies

of Suriname and

Netherlands Antilles.

Thus ending a period of

more than 200 years of

slavery in the colonies.


Jesse Ow

By Juleon Lewis




Staying up all night the previous day had

made me tired. Very tired. So tired, in fact,

that for hours I had been in some weird lucid

state between exhausted and excited. Every

time I settled into a good sleeping position,

I found something new to focus on. For

example, the included meals on this flight

were surprisingly delicious - who knew! The

movies on the screen in the headrest were not

only current, but free! And the bathrooms in

this airplane were big enough to comfortably,

and finally, join the ranks of the mile-high


Of course, these things were only small joys,

thoughts that popped up every now and then

between the feelings of unbridled excitement.

I was finally accomplishing what I had been

claiming since high school - moving abroad.

And today... today was the day that I boarded

my first transatlantic flight to start the rest of

my life living outside of the States.

Armed with only what could fit in a common

school backpack, my iPhone and my

international debit card, the last vestiges

of my (un)common American life were the

only things that kept me convinced that this

moment was real! Sitting in my cramped

American Airlines seat, all I could do was

smile as I reflected on how my life came to be

what it was.

With family vacations to the Caribbean and

Mexico starting in my teenage years, the

travel bug bit me early in life bit. The tipping

point was my high school class trip to Costa

Rica, the dream trip I couldn’t go on because

I had an internship. That’s when I made my

JUNE 2016

To truly travel, as a

lifestyle, and embrace

all the world has for

you, you can’t plan,

you can’t control and

you can’t predict, but

you can choose how

you will respond.

first public declaration: “When I graduate,

I’m going to Costa Rica and I’m living in the


That declaration was met with scorn from

some, laughter from most, and stern, furrowbrowed

rejection from my parents. With both

parents having graduated from prestigious

universities with high honors, they felt so

passionately about my education that they

literally bribed me to go to school. So, I put

my dreams on hold. Then I graduated with

$60,000 in debt, so of course I had to stay

to pay it off, along with my car and my credit

cards. My dream was slipping farther away.

When I matured in my career and finances

stopped being a concern, other worries

popped up that prevented me from traveling.

What would I now do with my car and

motorcycle and mountain of possessions?

What about my grandparents, who were

getting older, and the business I wanted to

start? I’m athletic, attractive and have hazel

eyes; what if I went abroad and got kidnapped

and forced into sex slavery? Nope, I had too

many reasons to stay here. My dream started

to become more like a New Year’s resolution

- “I’ll do it next year, I promise!”

Then one day everything changed when

I suddenly got let go from my job. I wish I

could say that I confidently sold everything

and high-tailed it outta here, but I didn’t. The

same fears resurfaced and brought with them

some friends. What if this crazy move violates

the purpose God has for my life? What if I

leave and something happens to a loved one?

What if I’m as crazy as everyone says and

I just need to sit still and live a “traditional

life?” Most importantly, what if I go abroad,

squander my savings, and come back in a

few years in my mid-thirties with no money,

no job, and nothing of “value” to show for my

years gallivanting across the globe?

If anything, the fear of not getting any

further than a right-swipe on Tinder scared

me the most. Many of my friends, who

were in their mid-thirties and

forties, joined the battle cry

of my grandchild-less parents

in asserting that if I made

this decision, I’d basically be

throwing away any chance at

love and relationships until

I became “stable” again. For

me, a man that craves family

and community, these fears

stung like a hot knife.

So how did I assuage my

fears? I didn’t. Actually, I’m

still scared. I still have no idea

of where my life is headed. All

the questions I once had are

still there; but, I found myself

still on the plane and looking

forward to the road ahead

because of advice from great

friends and a few hard talks I

had to have with myself.

First, I admitted my fears

and then responded to

them with a logical answer.

Taking the unknown out of

things usually helps control

emotions and when I did that,

I found myself laughing at

how unnecessarily distressed

I was. For example, one of

the most common questions

asked was about money and

not having a job. The answer

is startlingly simple - I’ll work

and I’ll survive like most other

capable people that desire


The second key to my success

If anything, the fear of not

getting any further than a

right-swipe on Tinder

scared me the most.

was adding an affirmation

that directly addressed the

fear. Was I still scared that I

would run out of money, yes.

However I, in concert with

a few good friends, had to

remind myself repeatedly that

I would find a job and that I

am capable and resourceful.

Ultimately I, like most other

humans on the planet, will

adapt to the circumstances

that life throws my way. With

this attitude, I found myself

joyously reselling bottles of

water to hot travelers as they

got off the ferry in Koh Phangan

or teaching dance classes at a

club in Singapore. These were

all new experiences and they

were all ways that I was able

to fulfill the affirmation and

confront my fears.

Although we all have fears,

the key to still moving forward

lies in accepting that you can

and will overcome those fears

should they arise.

To truly travel, as a lifestyle,

and embrace all the world has

for you, you can’t plan, you

can’t control and you can’t

predict, but you can choose

how you will respond.

Honestly, what could prepare

you to get pulled over by the

police in Bali and bribed for 1

million Rupiah for not having

an international drivers

license? Or getting into a

fight with club bouncers in

Thailand because your friend

insisted on sneaking in

outside alcohol? Or meeting

a beautiful soul on the dance

floor of a club in Malaysia

who turned out to actually be

a princess and who you now

consider a close friend? The

obvious answer is: nothing.

First, I admitted my fears and

then responded to them with a

logical answer.

So go forth and explore.

Explore the world. Explore

yourself. Be prepared to say

“sure, why not” way more

than “no” and live the unique

journey that can only be

started when you confront

your fears and excuses and

just... GO.

Juleon has been traveling the world for months at a time

for the past two years. From Mexico to Chile to Indonesia

and other parts in SE Asia, traveling is a passion that

Juleon embraces. As he begins his transition to full-time

travel, he’s decided to start a blog and share his adventures

with you. Follow his adventures on his blog where

he shared travel and packing tips, best places to go, and

all the ups and downs of embracing this lifestyle.

Follow Juleon at




Shenita Outland, pharmacist and owner of

World Travels, LLC, was born and raised

in Houston, TX, and while she still calls

it home, she loves to jet set whenever she

can. Her love for traveling was sparked

by her grandparents; every summer they

would take a road trip. Thanks to them, by

the age of 12, she had been bitten by the

travel bug!

Fast forward to today, her passion for travel

has manifested in various ways. She started

a travel blog in 2012, World Travelista

(, as a means to

document her travels, share her experience

with others & motivate others to travel as

well. She was also once a contributing

writer for Travel Noire. That later evolved

into her idea to start a full-fledged travel

consulting agency, World Travels, (www. which she successfully

runs today. She also serves as a Girls Gone

Global Travel Ambassador.

Shenita truly believes that traveling is one

of the best ways to learn to appreciate the

world we live in, the people within it and

the lifestyles they live. Her personal travel

motto is: It’s not a hobby, it’s a lifestyle.





Sometimes I wish I worked amidst the bustle of

Nairobi. I imagine weekends hearing Maxi Priest

perform in Kampala or exploring the beaches of

Abidjan. However, I live and work in the much

more low-key capital city of Zambia. My nightlife

isn’t what I imagined, but the ability to make impact

in public service is something I never expected.

I love getting out of the capital of Lusaka- not down

south to the majestic Victoria Falls, but to places

like the rural villages of Gwembe, almost 300

kilometers north of the falls. A tough ride for the

weak stomached, Gwembe is more than an hour

off of the main road that stretches from Lusaka to

Livingstone and it is rocky. You bounce on narrow

roads that twist and turn among the district’s

gentle green hills. The children run out to the road

at the sounds of any vehicle passing and I like to

watch them wave at us long after the dust cloud

our tires stirred up fades.

New visitors don’t come out to these villages often

and the children usually flock to peek and investigate.

I traveled here to monitor the network

of community health workers in the area. These

volunteers support the overstretched nurses that

man rural health centers in the region. In these

centers, one or two medical professionals could

cover over 500 to 2,000 households dotted across

the remote landscapes.

There is a shortage of healthcare providers in

sub-Saharan Africa. In Zambia, the ratio of nurses

is 0.8 to 1,000 citizens (the internationally set standard

minimum is 2.5 to 1,000). With this limited access,

Community Health Workers increase accessibility.

They do it by using Nokia (“brick phones”)

to document data on to ground. This data makes

its way up to district, provincial and eventually

national stakeholders in the Ministry of Health- giving

them a real-time image of the state of health

in communities. The CHWs mainly work in malaria

and sanitation surveillance.

Zambia has so much land and is a prime location

for public service and development. I work in global

health and communications, and the country’s

political stability and environment for growth has

made it the perfect place for me to see programs

at work. Far away from the “hotspots” of Ebola on

the western region of the continent, passionate epidemiologists,

physicians and scientists don’t usually

flock to this southern African nation, yet it is

a breeding ground for a public health professional

to do good and tangible work. Infant and maternal

mortality rates are high, the effect of HIV/AIDs is far

reaching and malaria is still the number one cause

of sickness and death. With such high stakes, interacting

with these integral CHWs and working

towards strengthening health systems feels that

much more important.

Any given month, I may visit a community health

worker training in Kabwe, where these volunteers

learn how to insert data into their Nokia phones. I

traveled north to Mansa to shoot instructional video

on how indoor residual spraying reduces malaria

transmission. Next week, I will be throughout

southern province working towards eliminating

trachoma, the leading cause of preventable blindness,

in Zambia by 2017.

Sometimes I still wish I was on Grand Bassam

beach in Abidjan, especially when power cuts

leave me in the dark for 6 hours, but seeing the incremental

changes and tangible improvements on

the ground in Zambia makes it worthwhile.

Alexis K. Barnes is a multimedia journalist

currently based in Lusaka, Zambia as a

Global Health Corps fellow. Before Zambia,

she worked in the United Nations bureau of

Al Jazeera English in NYC. Before the Big

Apple, she worked in Washington, D.C.,

then South Korea and Thailand. Though

her roots are in print journalism, they have

evolved into proficiency in video, photo and

audio editing and reporting. Her passion for

telling and exploring human rights stories

has landed her work on the pages of quite a

few notable publications; including Vice and

Griots Republic.



A Country Balanced Between Old & New

Written By Yvette Santos Cuenco

For the last five years, I have lived abroad

as an international school counselor. I spent

three years in Tashkent, Uzbekistan and my

most recent post the past two years is in

Bangkok, Thailand. Look up any guidebook

for Thailand and the front cover will likely be

a pristine beach on one of its southern islands

with no cars, motorbikes, or tuk-tuks

in sight. The beautiful beaches are certainly

what helped propel Thailand to become one

of the top tourism/expat destinations around

the world, but it is not the only reason why I

chose to live here. One of the biggest draws

for me is Bangkok’s amazing mish mash of

old and new.

The klong (canal)

community sits along

an artery of the Chao

Phraya River, tucked away

from the tourist drag of

Wat Po and Wat Arun.

Bangkok is where one can enjoy the conveniences

of the ultra-modern malls and as the

locals say “hi-so” (high society) cafes or trek

out to a neighborhood housing a chedi dating

back to the ancient Siamese capital of Ayutthaya.

All without ever having to leave the city

limits. For travelers who enjoy cities with such

intense contrasts, Bangkok is the perfect destination.

When I moved here, it was my goal to

get to know the city and its layers.

One such place where you can find remnants

of Bangkok’s yesteryears is Klong Bang Luang,

home of Baan Silapin or the Artists

House. I’d heard about it from a good friend

of mine, Aloha, who’d lived in Bangkok for

several years and is a photographer, teacher,

and writer. She told me about this amazing

place in the city, but hidden away because it’s

not near public transportation or any of the

tourist landmarks. Having been there several


Baan Silapin is open daily from 9AM-

6PM. The puppet show is usually daily

at 2PM (except Wednesdays), unless

they are booked for a performance

elsewhere. There is no entrance fee, but

are welcome to leave a donation that

will go towards the house’s upkeep and

community programming.

times now myself, her description hits it right

on the head.

The klong (canal) community sits along an

artery of the Chao Phraya River, tucked away

from the tourist drag of Wat Po and Wat Arun.

According to Mark Wiens of migrationology.

com, Baan Silapin is approximately 200 years

old. It was purchased by Khun Chumpol Akkapantanon

and renovated into a community

art space. The aforementioned Ayutthaya-era

chedi is housed in Baan Silapin’s courtyard.

My first trek out to Klong Bang Luang was with

my friend Lauren who, like me, was an expat

curious to see a part of the city hidden away

from the highrises. We met at the Siam Sky-

Train station and boarded the train on the Silom

line, heading in the direction of Bang Wa.

I was a little bit anxious because of the language

barrier and none of the landmarks not-

ed in the blogs I read prior to

going were familiar to me. Following

Mark Wiens’ directions

from, we

got out at Wong Wian Yai BTS

and hailed a taxi. I asked the

taxi driver to take us to Charan

Sanit Wong Soi 3 and we

were on our way. I checked

the GPS on my phone and we

seemed headed in the right

direction. We turned down a

narrow alley or soi and the

taxi stopped at a dead end. A

bit confused, we got out and

200 years old like Baan Silapin.

The narrow sois leave no

room for cars – most people

get around on-foot, bikes, or

scooters. No skyscrapers or

large condo towers in sight.

This exudes a laidback intimacy

where the rest of the city

moves at a frenetic pace.

You can visit the different

shops and have a look at their

handmade goods. Or you can

buy some fish food, sit on

the bank of the klong, feed

all very friendly and helpful

regardless of the language


While I love walking through

the sois of the klong, the

heart of Klong Bang Luang is

definitely Baan Silapin. Here,

the community and visitors

converge to create a lively, interactive

space. Adorning the

walls and the upper floor are

paintings and sculptures by

various local artists.

Getting to Klong Bang Luang

and Baan Silapin

Baan Silapin is accessible by klong boat tour or by public transportation/taxi. Via

public transpo/taxi – take the Bangkok Sky Train (BTS) train along the Silom line

to Wongwian Yai station. Take the stairs down Exit 2. Catch a taxi and instruct the

driver to take you to Charan Sanit Wong Soi 3, Klong Bang Luang (Charan-sanitwong-soi-sam-klong-bang-luang,

ka). Klong Bang Luang is about a 10-15 minute

drive. The taxi will drop you off at the dead end of Charan Sanit Wong Soi 3. From

here you walk across the footbridge and Baan Silapin will be on your left. To get

back into the city – cross back over the footbridge and walk or catch the songthaew

(red truck taxi) up the soi to the main road. Once at the main road you can catch a

taxi back to the BTS.

the locals figured out where

we wanted to go. They pointed

out the little path to the footbridge

and within minutes we

were taking off our shoes at

Baan Silapin.

Upon crossing the footbridge,

it was immediately evident to

me why the Klong Bang Luang

community is a special place

in Bangkok. The wooden structures

and houses throughout

the klong are roughly 100 –

fish and watching the klong

boats motor past. The food

in the klong is very good and

cheap. I have tried the fresh

brewed iced coffees and iced

teas, curries, and boat noodles

from various vendors and

have never been disappointed.

Average price for a plate

or bowl of food is 30-70 baht

($1-$2.50 USD). Not many of

the locals speak English, but

don’t let this be a hindrance.

From my experience, they’re

When not in use, the puppets

of the Kham Nai traditional

puppet troupe are on display

so you can get up close and

personal, admiring their intricate

details. On the ground

floor is a little café and gift

shop where you can purchase

locally made silk screens,

postcards, and books written

in Thai. On weekends, the

house’s groundfloor hosts

a Kham Nai puppet troupe

performance. They present

a chapter of the Ramakien – Thailand’s take

on the Hindi epic Ramayana. It highlights the

intersection of Hinduism and Buddhism that

makes up Thai culture. You might even catch

the dance and puppeteering lessons geared

towards the local youth.

If you want to flex your painting skills, you can

sit down in the café and paint a mask. Lastly,

while tour groups do come, Baan Silapin and

Klong Bang Luang is still very much a popular

stop for locals as well. On the days I’ve gone –

only weekends did I see tour groups who were

mostly coming to see the Kham Nai show. On

the weekdays I’ve gone – most visitors were

Thai. Take the day and soak it all in.

It is not uncommon to hear travelers in Thailand

say “If you want to see the real Thailand,

don’t stay in Bangkok – go to Chiang Mai (the

Queen city of the North) or go to Pha Nga province

in the South….or….” If you ask them to explain their

reasoning further, it becomes evident that

they have a very idealized picture of Thailand

– one that only exists in pictures. What they

fail to acknowledge is that Thailand prides itself

in offering the old and the new. Bangkok

exemplifies this contrast and the Klong Bang

Luang community is just one of many examples

throughout the capital city where one can

experience a distinct shift from modernity

amidst the urban jungle. That shift, to me, is

“the real Thailand.”

Yvette Santos Cuenco, aka The Roaming Filipina, is

an international school counselor originally from the

San Francisco Bay Area. Prior to moving abroad,

Yvette lived and worked in Brooklyn, NY as a licensed

social worker for seven years. She can trace her

wanderlust to her first trip abroad, the Philippines, in

the 1980s. On her spare time she enjoys dabbling in

street photography, cooking, enjoying epic food and


Follow her adventures at

Twitter & Instagram: @vettievette

Since 1865

The Traveler's




© Tiphany Overzat

American post-racial idealism often lends

itself to cultural erasure among a myriad of

other disturbing realities. In our quest for

global equality, contemporary models of consumerism

can cause us to make room for new

trends and popular methods by which we celebrate

our “Blackness.”

As a child growing up in New Jersey in the

1980s, African-American History in public

sectors was confined to Black History Month.

During February, book reports on George

Washington Carver’s amazing peanut and unlicensed

cartoon cutouts of Martin Luther King,

Jr. adorned my elementary school halls. Awkward

recitations and reenactments of Harriet

Tubman’s speeches and Nat Turner’s revolt

sufficed as proper homage by Youth Ministries

in church on the third Sunday in February. The

following Sundays were reserved for “wear

your Kente Cloth to worship” at the 10 o’clock

service. There is absolutely no wrong way to

celebrate our history as African Americans,

but we must be vigilant in discussing and celebrating

our history outside of the confines of


Where backyard barbeques used to be the

maximum holiday enjoyment for previous fiscally

restricted generations, Millennials are

now catching flights to relax on beaches and

booking the flyest Airbnb accommodations in

Cabo. Despite the trends and advancements,

there is still a particular celebration so specific

to the Black experience in America that, in

some ways, it is a sort of a cult classic in the

Black American canon of unbelievable resil-

© Tiphany Overzat

The following Sundays

were reserved for

“wear your Kente Cloth

to worship” at the

10 o’clock service.

ience and celebratory traditions - Juneteenth.

On June 19, 1865, nearly two and a half years

after Abraham Lincoln’s famed Emancipation

Proclamation, news of the end of chattel slavery

reached Galveston, Texas by way of Union

General Gordon Granger. The justification for

the delayed liberation of Texas slaves is unclear

and attributed to several claims of deliberate

withholding by slave masters who sought

to reap the benefits of a final crop yield, assassination

of messengers, and a rogue Texan

establishment unchecked by the then weakened

Union army. Whatever the cause, news

of liberation was shared to mixed reviews.

Some slaves immediately evacuated plantations

and sought independence, while others

stayed on to attempt to eek out suitable lives

collecting wages as employees of their former


No matter the response, June 19th became a

day of marked pride and supplication where

free black men and women celebrated their

new state of independence in Galveston with

speeches, prayers, parades, rodeos, fishing,

baseball and barbecue.

As the migration of blacks from the southernmost

reaches of Texas radiated to northern

destinations, the tradition of the Juneteenth

celebration traveled with them.

The year 2015 marked the 150th year celebration

of Juneteenth and with it brought an

array of music festivals, lectures, community

health events, picnics, and weekend long

celebrations across America. International

Juneteenth events have been held throughout

the continent of Africa, Korea, Europe, South

America and Japan. Currently, 45 states recognize

Juneteenth as an official observance

and legislation is in place seeking to establish

the 19th of June as Juneteenth Independence

Day in America. In the meantime, some of the

largest Juneteenth celebrations in the country

might be happening right outside your front







Galveston, TX is the birthplace of Juneteenth.

The African American Museum Juneteenth

Family & Friends Festival boasts blues, gospel,

Zydeco and R&B performances alongside delectable

seafood and barbecue vendors.



Houston, TX says that they have the world’s oldest

celebration at what they call, ‘Juneteenth

Emancipation Celebration,’ held at Emancipation

Park inside Houston’s Third Ward. Check

the website for details as the recent park remodel

was delayed due to early spring floods

in the surrounding areas.


San Jose, CA is serving a diverse celebration

with musical headliners such as Pete Escovedo

and Tweet Charlene splitting the Father’s Day

Weekend bill while engaging Silicone Valley residents

in activities involving technology, health,

family and heritage.


Portland, OR surprises us with a rich history of

Juneteenth traditions. The Clara Peoples Freedom

Trail Parade is named for Muskogee, OK

native of the same name who is credited with

initiating Portland’s first annual Juneteenth

celebration in 1972.


Denver, CO also has one of the most premier

Juneteenth celebrations in the country every

year in the historic Five Points District of Downtown

Denver. A music festival, the Denver Juneteenth

celebration crowns an African American

Ms. Juneteenth every year for her outstanding

achievements and community involvement.

Denver celebrates with a parade and subsequent

block party with live music performances

throughout the weekend.


Minneapolis, MN boasts one of the countries

largest Juneteenth celebrations! This year,

with the recent and tragic passing of the Twin

Cities’ own, Prince, the musical tributes promise

to be astounding and this is sure to be a

celebration that you don’t want to miss!


Philadelphia, PA is getting on board with organizing

efforts from Philadelphia Community

of Leaders who are hosting the inaugural

Juneteenth event in the City of Brotherly Love.

This event promises to showcase marching

bands, drill teams, guest speakers, live musicians,

food vendors and more!

There are also Juneteenth celebrations as far

reaching as Atlanta, Albuquerque, Boston and

Jacksonville. Do not miss out on your opportunity

to enjoy some rich African American culture

and delectable barbecue this month!

A 2006 National Poetry Slam

Champion, and recipient of

Westword’s Mastermind Award

in Literary Arts for her work as

hostess of Café Nuba; Ebony Isis

Booth is committed to her work.

She continues to fuel her drive

toward art-ivism as Programs

& Communications Coordinator

for Harwood Art Center while

simultaneously writing and

performing original poetry,

heralding social justice, self love,

and perseverance in and around

New Mexico.




Sonjia Mackey, simply known as “Lioness” to the rest

of the world, is best known for her extensive travel and

bucket list adventures which have taken her to 36 states,

67 countries, and all 7 continents. She has done everything

from wrestling 10-foot alligators in the U.S. to

polar-plunging into the freezing waters of Antarctica to

sky-diving over the Palm Islands of Dubai to spending the

night alone in a tree house in the African bush!

She is the founder of (Im)Possible Living, LLC – a company

created to help people take responsibility for their own

happiness and create the life of their dreams: (Im)Possible

= (I’m)Possible! One branch of the company is “Bucket

List Beasts” – a travel and lifestyle movement initiated

to help people remove mental and emotional blocks; step

outside their comfort zones; overcome their fears; and in

doing so, live their best, happiest, most fulfilling lives.

Through the Facebook social community of the same

name, Lioness hosts travel adventures that enable people

to check multiple items off their bucket lists. The signature

adventure is an annual “mystery” trip, where a limited

number of travelers pack their bags and head to the

airport for a 9-10 day international getaway with no idea

where they are going, where they will be staying, or what

they will be doing!

Lioness is currently authoring two books about her inspirational

life; developing an online course about conquering

fear; and expanding her professional coaching

practice where she helps people redesign their lives for

maximum impact, living, and enjoyment.

To learn more, visit the current Facebook and Instagram

communities and the soon-to-be launched website – all

under “Bucket List Beasts”.




On navigating the unexpected

and living in Seoul

B y J e s s i c a C o b b s

If ten years ago, you would have told me

I’d someday quit my “adult job,” donate

all of my worldly possessions and board a

one-way flight to South Korea, I likely would

have thought you were crazy. As a self-proclaimed

Latin American culture-enthusiast,

East Asia is the last place I envisioned

spending two years of my life.

However, after an unexpected, yet fortunate

series of events, I now find myself navigating

the ins and outs of English language

teaching at an elementary school in Seoul--

South Korea’s largest city and cultural hub.

Expat life in Korea has been fun, challenging

and everything in between. As a Black

American woman amidst a sea of Korean

faces--in one of the most ethnically homogenous

countries in the world--there’s been

no shortage of hilarious, eye-opening and

sometimes frustrating experiences. People

aren’t shy about staring; my students still

can’t seem to understand how my hair changes

so frequently; and the language barrier is

an ongoing issue, but my time here has been

mostly positive and enjoyable.

Seoul, the place I call home (at least for now),

is a densely-populated metropolis of 10 million

people--25 million if you include the surrounding

metropolitan area. It features stateof-the-art

infrastructure and technology, an

extensive subway system, and some of the

fastest Wi-Fi in the world.

Despite its relative modernity and technological

advances, touches of traditional architecture

and old-world charm are still present in

the city’s hanok homes, numerous palaces,

and Buddhist temples. When I’m lucky enough

get sucked into spending an entire paycheck

during the daily commute.

While I’m not too partial towards buying

clothes, I admittedly spend a lot of money

on food. Living in a tiny, employer-provided

apartment with one stove burner and no oven

means that I cook a lot less than I used to

in the States. However, this isn’t necessarily a

bad thing, because there’s so much to sample.

Korean cuisine is fairly diverse, cheap and

plentiful, and Seoul offers a little bit of everything--street

food; upscale eateries; traditional

markets (Gwangjang Market being my

personal fave); and hole-in-the-wall joints featuring

your Asian grandmother’s home cooking.

Despite having spent nearly two years

to host visitors, I never hesitate to bring them

to Bukchon Hanok Village and Gyeongbokgung

Palace, located in the heart of the Seoul’s

Jongno district.

Though I typically avoid shopping like the

plague, it’s a popular pastime and essentially,

a way of life in Seoul. With a myriad of stores

and restaurants lining the insides of the city’s

subway stations, it’s easy to see how one could

in this country, I still haven’t gotten tired of

Korean barbecue, and although it may sound

blasphemous coming from the mouth of an

American Black girl with roots in the south, I

think Korea’s fried chicken may be among the

best in the world!

When I’m not stuffing my face, I try to get outdoors

and enjoy the scenery. One of the best

parts about living in Seoul is having access to

amazing mountains. Some may assume that

natural beauty would be limited in such a bustling

metropolis, but when the weather is ideal,

it’s easy to hop on a train and venture out

for a trek through one of the city’s national

parks. Hiking culture is huge in Korea! I’m not

exaggerating when I say that I’ve seen both

senior citizens and five-year-olds effortlessly

out-pace my steps as I struggled to catch my

breath during a mountain ascent.

Perhaps some of the most unique--borderline

odd--experiences I’ve had in Seoul involve visits

to various theme cafes. If you’re an animal

lover, the dog cafe, cat cafe (and even sheep

and raccoon cafe) are worth exploring. My

recent obsession is CaFace, where the baristas

superimpose your selfie on the foam of a

beverage. To date, I’ve taken nearly 15 out-oftown

guests here.

Finally, I’d be remiss if I failed to mention that

Seoul truly is a city that never sleeps. The saying

“Work hard, play hard” takes on a whole

new meaning here; Seoul’s nightlife is some

of the best I’ve experienced anywhere in the

world. During a typical weekend night, when

I’m ready to retire to my apartment at around

2:00 am, Seoul’s pulse is still alive and kicking,

with no signs of slowing down, especially

in neighborhoods like Hongdae (which I love),

Itaewon, and Gangnam.

Compared to its nearby neighbor Japan, Korea

may not necessarily be a place that the

average Westerner is well-versed in or one that

some would venture out of their way to visit;

admittedly, before I decided to take the plunge

and move here to teach English, my knowledge

of the country was quite limited. However, two

years later, I guess you could sort of call me

an expert. My experience has been transformative

and one that I do not take for granted.

Jessica F. Cobbs is a Seoul-based expat

with a passion for travel, photography,

and foreign languages. Originally from

Chicago and a graduate of the University

of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Jessica

has lived and studied in Mexico, Costa

Rica and now South Korea.

Though most of her days are spent

teaching adorable Korean children

English fundamentals, her professional

background spans international

development, community organizing and

immigrant advocacy.

She regularly shares her adventures in

expat life on social media at: @froonthego.


It’s usually not difficult to sell me on the

idea of going someplace new. In the past 20

years, I’ve had over 25 different addresses in

8 different states and quasi-lived in 3 different

countries other than the U.S. Some have

said I have a problem with commitment and

with respect to settling somewhere; I used to

agree, until now. Finally, I’ve found a place I

can call home and feel comfortable wearing

out my welcome in— Florence, Italy.

If Florence is on your destination horizon,

bravo! And if not, seriously consider making

it an addition to your list of must see places.

Florence (or as the Italians call it, Firenze)

is one of the most beautiful little cities you

will ever experience. Visiting the home of the

Renaissance is truly like taking a page out of

history, but Florence won my heart for all of

its hidden charm; all of the stuff that makes

it feel like any other normal European city,

and not a hub for the 16 million tourists that

descend on this little gem every year. Finding

its soul wasn’t easy but after two years, it finally

started feeling familiar. I’m no longer in

that phase of trying to “fit in” with Florence.

Right now, we are like old friends. I know just

enough about this city to keep my calendar

stimulating. So here are my tips for those of

you interested in seeing Florence like a quasi-local.

Florence is very easy to navigate by foot so

bring some comfy shoes and an eagerness

to walk a lot. Most places are reachable in a

20-minute timeframe but the maze-like layout

of the city can be intimidating at first. Do

yourself a favor and take the first couple of

days to just wander the streets and get familiar

with it. There is so much history and beauty

at every turn, and every street leads back to

the river, the Duomo or the central station, so

it’s really hard to get lost.

Along the way, enjoy the sights and copious

amounts of gelato. Just make sure it’s the

good stuff, because there is definitely a difference

in quality and you don’t want to spend

your entire trip eating bad gelato. The general

rule is to avoid places with huge mounds

of gelato with fruit or candy sprinkled on top.

Stick to places that are artigianale, or have

lids on the containers. It’s perfectly normal to

ask to sample the gelato first, so why not?

The hip crowd hang out in the Oltrarno area,

across the river from the Duomo. There are

less tourists on this side of town and it has

a more “local” feel to it. Santo Spirito is kind

of like the central meeting place for locals in

Oltrarno. It’s a great place to enjoy a spritz or

grab a bite to eat.

If you get tired of wandering aimlessly, there is

always some event going on in the city. Check

out The Florentine magazine for information

on current events. If you happen to be visiting

this time of year (during the spring/early

summer months), Fabbrica Europa, Notte Bianca,

and Pitti Uomo are great venues to see

art and fashion. No matter what time of year

you visit, there is always something to do.

18 The general rule

is to avoid

places with huge


of gelato with

fruit or candy

sprinkled on top.


One of the things I adore about Florence is

Mercato Centrale. This is the best place to find

the sweetest fruit and freshest meat, fish and

cheese. It’s in the heart of the city and there

really is no better place. If you go, get there

before it closes at 2 pm (it’s not open Sundays)

and remember, it is not polite to touch

the fruit.

The second floor of the market opened a couple

of years ago and it’s a cool spot to grab a

bite to eat and just people watch. Right outside

is the San Lorenzo Market, which is not

hard to miss. In a nutshell, it’s a good place

for trinkets and things but not for high-quality

goods. Buy with caution.

If you’re into fashion, you can’t go wrong in

Italy. Besides being the home of many top designer

brands, Florence also has some incredible

vintage stores. Be on the lookout for them

as you wander but remember, most businesses

close between 1pm and 4 pm for lunch, so

time yourself accordingly.

It’s really hard to go wrong with restaurants

here and the list is long so instead of listing

them, my best advice is to see what’s close by

and just check the ratings before you reserve.

What I can recommend however, is the Fiorentina

bistecca if you eat meat. This is what they

are known for. Also, Tuscany is truffle land so

don’t miss out on enjoying truffles at some

point during your dining excursion. Otherwise,

eat anything and everything that looks and

smells good. You won’t be disappointed.

The last thing I want to recommend, especially

if you’ve had enough of the museums and

walking until exhaustion, is to have a picnic in

one of Florence’s many beautiful free parks.

They truly are amazing. Grab your book, blanket,

and a bottle of vino and head to Giardino

delle Rose, Giardino Villa Strozzi, Parco di Villa

il Ventaglio or Cascine park to name a few.

Find a tree, relax and enjoy!

Aniya Dunkley is originally

from Brooklyn, NY. She

practiced law for 12 years

before moving to Italy where

she is currently working

on a Masters of Fine Arts

(MFA) in contemporary

jewelry design at Alchimia

Contemporary Jewelry

School in Florence.


Written By Shavonne Davis

Tokyo is a traveler’s playground.

Home to some 37 million people, it is easy to

imagine that there is a bit of something for

everyone. As an international school teacher, I

have lived in Tokyo for 4 years. I have greatly

enjoyed my life and experience here but… I

am still getting lost.

A few months ago I was off to a department

store that I visit semi-regularly just outside of

Shinjuku station but this time I took the wrong

exit. According the Guinness Book of World

Records, Shinjuku boasts being the world’s

busiest train station with approximately 3.64

million riders a day. Operated by 5 rail companies

with 36 platforms and over 200 exits it

not hard to imagine how even a resident can

get lost in its intricate network of hallways,

passages, shopping arcades and department

stores. It’s practically a destination in and of


On this outing, I accidentally took the west exit

of the station instead of the east. There, in

the underground, were signs with directions to

the Tokyo Metropolitan Government buildings,

which host two of the highest free observation

decks in the city. I had been meaning to make

my way there, but it wasn’t until this episode

that I took the opportunity to do so.

Located on the 45 floor of each building, you

get a real taste of how densely populated Tokyo

is, how wonderfully greenery plays a major

part in the organization of the city and you get

to see Mount Fuji if you are lucky (I was lucky).

Shinjuku is also home

to cat cafes, owl cafes,

fishing cafes (catch

your own fish) and

Alice in Wonderland

themed cafes.

The Odakyu Department store is directly connected

to that exit, though Isetan and Lumine

on the east are a bit more exciting.

Bic Camera and Yodobashi Camera are a short

walk away. If you have never been to a Japanese

electronics store then you are in for sensory

overload. Each floor specializing in something,

mobile accessorises, toys or health and

beauty. You may walk in for a phone case but

end up playing the Nintendo Wii U, checking

out the latest in face steamers or crazy robot

vacuums. For anyone with a remote interest in

electronics or technology, these stores are for


The East exit provides equal, if not more, excitement

on any given day. I have often gotten

lost down the interesting streets lined with

massive shopping stores. Personal favourite,

Don Quijote in Kabuki-cho can be found here.

To any visitor to Japan, Don Quijote epitomizes

the absolute randomness availed to this

culture. A great place for souvenirs or for just

pure time wasting, you won’t soon be bored

in this store. From high-end products, expensive

bags and watches to Pikachu body suits

and sex toys, this store has everything. This is

what a true variety store was meant to be like.

Kabuki-cho itself is known as Tokyo’s red-light

district. Minus the red-lights, it is filled with

bars, nightclubs, Pachinko parlours (sort of

weird Japanese gambling madhouses), and

love hotels. This area tells the story of the

shadiness of Japanese culture. For example,

the Robot Restaurant is one such attraction

where scantily clad women dance around and

perform amongst robots all in the name of entertainment.

Walking through the district at night, the well

lit neon signage basically beckoning you in,

people watching is at its best. From the hordes

of Chinese and Korean tourists, to the African

men trying to talk you into the gentleman’s

clubs and the host girls dressed in maid outfits,

a regular smorgasbord for the eyes and


Shinjuku is also home to cat cafes, owl cafes,

fishing cafes (catch your own fish) and Alice

in Wonderland themed cafes. The Department

stores: Isetan, Odakyu, Lumine 1 and 2 to

name a few, and malls (Takashimaya is huge)

live up to the true meanings of “large stores.”

The basement of Isetan is a food floor, full of

food stalls selling everything from meat, to

rice balls and macaroons; simply put, a fatkid’s


A walk through the underground passages on

my way back to the station gives allowance for

a delicious dinner, cute hosiery, hair accessories

and cheesecake. To imagine that I simply

left my house to buy some wool, it’s amazing

what a day of getting lost can do for you.

Shavonne Davis is an international teacher

currently living and working in Tokyo, Japan. Born

in Toronto, Ontario, Canada to West Indian parents,

she has single-handedly gotten her family to visit

parts of Asia. Other than a love of travel, she also

enjoys sports, photography and knitting.

Twitter: @qspeedy_shivi





“The measure of a man is not where he stands in moments

of comfort and convenience, but where he stands

at times of challenge and controversy’’are the words

spoken by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and practiced by

Alonzo Cartlidge., II.

Having heard the family legacy that Cartlidge men did

not live beyond their 30’s, Alonzo felt a need to make his

impression on the world as quickly as possible. His being

educated mainly in the south was a major reason for

his participation in the desegregation movement during

the sixties. During his career, he became the youngest

administrator to be employed as Director of Student

Activities at Benedict College. At the age of 21, he became

the Assistant Dean of Students at Colgate University

in Hamilton, NY. Cartlidge’s professional career has

impacted students from all nationalities, and from all

walks of life at the City University of NY, Kean College

of New Jersey, Raritan Valley Community College, and

Saint Peter’s College, where he served as Assistant Dean

of Academics.

Today, Cartlidge serves as President of Our Gang Group,

LLC., a travel and event planning corporation headquartered

in Maplewood, NJ. With offices in Brooklyn, NY

and Atlanta, Ga., Our Gang Travel is celebrating it’s 30th

Anniversary in the industry, and has received accolades

from many travel partners, including recognition by Royal

Caribbean International as Regional Travel Partner for

three consecutive years.

In his office, Alonzo has a prominent display of “The

Measure of a Man,” along with two other framed sayings.

Ecclesiastes 3:1—12, “All Things In Their Time”

and “It doesn’t matter where you go or what you have,

but who you have beside you.”




Written By Majida Mundial

I remember, quite clearly, my first introduction

to Spanish culture in fourth grade. A tall,

dark haired and brightly smiled woman walked

into my classroom wearing a skin tight, yet

frilly, red dress, a full face of makeup, and

what looked like a chrysanthemum in her hair.

To us, a class full of Brooklyn’s finest white

and dark chocolate 80s babies, the lady in red

had to be the Señorita that everyone goes to

the Kentucky Fair to see. We were convinced

and proud that Ms. Beverly, our teacher, was

an undercover celebrity and used her pull to

get La Señorita with flowers in her hair to

teach our class about Flamenco dance and

Spanish culture.

My advice,

when it comes to

experiencing Spanish

dance - just stick to

the traditions that

hail from Andalucia,

namely, Flamenco

and Sevillanas.

Little did I know, it would be my first experience

with duende - a strange spiritual, magical,

and moving presence that everyone watching

a performer deeply embodying their craft

can feel, but not explain.

My experience with duende stuck

with me into my adulthood and

I eventually decided that it was

necessary for me to figure out

a way to move to Spain. I never

thought I would teach English

in a foreign land. However,

when I realized that doing

so would provide a way for me to

explore new culture and expand myself

as a citizen of humanity, I decided

to give it a try – I’m glad I did.

Spain is a beautiful country with a rich multicultural

history that is both kept very much

alive and suppressed at the same time. The

country has been conquered and ruled by a

plethora of ethnic groups and political regimes

whose presence have significantly impacted

all facets of modern day Spanish life -

including art, culture, and expression. Dance,

however, continues to play a major role in

Spanish culture.

For many foreigners, the idea of Spanish

dance only brings forth visions of strumming

guitars, stomping feet and sexy women

in brightly colored flamenco dresses playing

castañuelas. However, this idea of Spain is

only representative of one region, Andalucia.

A more accurate image of Spanish dance

would be one that included the use of bagpipes

and tambourines, as they are the main

instruments for accompanying the traditional

dances across the north of Spain! And yes,

they are as boring as they sound. My advice,

when it comes to experiencing Spanish dance,

just stick to the traditions that hail from Andalucia

– namely, Flamenco and Sevillanas.

The word Flamenco describes an improvised

and expressive family of over 50 different

song and dance styles, rather than just one

style. The history of these traditions is not

precisely known and has only been documented

for the last 200 years. Most of what

is known regarding Flamenco before this time

is based upon stories which have been orally

passed down through family dynasties - leaving

much room for speculation and debate.

It is generally accepted however, that Flamenco

was birthed as a result of a unique fusion

of Gypsy, Islamic, Sephardic, and native Andalucían

cultures that existed in the south

of Spain during the late 15th and early 16th


Often confused as being Flamenco itself, Sevillanas

is believed to have evolved from a

15th century Castilian dance called the Seguidillas.

This dance was later influenced

by Flamenco and other forms of dance

to transform into what is known as Sevillanas


Sevillanas is a choreographed four

part traditional folk dance (and genre

of music) done mostly in the Andalucía

region of Spain at most social

gatherings. Sevillanas is usually performed

in pairs, although sometimes

in groups, and is danced by both men

and women.

Every year people come from all over

the world come to Spain to experience

Flamenco and Sevillanas. If you

are planning your next trip to Spain and

The word Flamenco

describes an

improvised and

expressive family

of over 50 different

song and dance

styles, rather than

just one style.

would like to include seeing some of the best

Spanish dancers perform, consider grabbing

tickets to one of the following events or venues:

develop on your own. Nevertheless, if you´re

like me and find exploring on your own to be

even more enticing, then check out the following

locations to start classes:

Coral de la moreria (Madrid)

El cordobes (Barcelona)

Tablao Arenal (Sevilla)

Los Gallos (Sevilla)

La Bienal Flamenco Festival (Málaga)

La Bienal Flamenco Festival (Sevilla)

Fundacion Conservatorio

Flamenco Casa Patas (Madrid)

Centro Amor de Dios (Madrid)

Universidad de Flamenco (Madrid)

Adrés Marín Studio (Sevilla)

Úrsula López Studio (Sevilla)

If you are interested in learning how to dance

Flamenco, you should be aware that because

this tradition has been passed down orally,

not much of a formalized pedagogy has been

developed. This means that classes are mainly

taught in apprenticeship settings and there

are many things that you will have to learn and

If you are interested in learning

more about teaching

English in Spain, start here:

Majida Mundial is an advocate for

passion-filled lifestyle creation and a

believer that anything you want can

be yours at anytime, if you believe

enough. It’s never too late to grow,

change, shift, and be who you desire

to be. Always open to making new

friends, connect with her on instagram


With no back up birthday plans, a novice

traveler sets off to explore "Gwada"

Written by Alicia Mitchell





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Promising myself a 30th birthday celebration to

remember, visiting the French Caribbean islands

of Guadeloupe fit the call. Having agreed to visit

a close friend more than seven years ago, this

trip served a dual purpose: staying true to my

word and escaping the unforgiving New York winter

weather. A round trip, nonstop Norwegian Air

flight departing from JFK sold for $350. That’s a

steal of a deal considering prices regularly settled

around double or triple the rate.

As the trip drew near, I grew in excitement. Researching

travel notices kept me grounded and

added an air of caution to my preparations. According

to the World Health Organization, the

Zika virus infection was recorded in Guadeloupe

in January 2016. The Center for Disease Control

and Prevention outlined that subtropical climates,

like that of Guadeloupe, are ideal for mosquitos

infected with Zika to spread to humans. No medicine

or vaccine exists for Zika; aside from wearing

bug spray as perfume for the week— c’est la vie.

As a novice international traveler, coming to the

airport three hours in advance was something

new. From my experiences flying domestically,

arriving that early seemed optional. Having

thoroughly packed, planned and researched this

trip, the severity of my oversight was shocking. I

missed my flight to Guadeloupe! Purchasing another

ticket or cancelling the entire trip were the

only options. However, no contingency birthday

plan in New York could contend with the high expectation

of exploring the French West Indies.

Finding a new flight was expensive, but necessary.

Southeast of Puerto Rico, between the Caribbean

Sea and the tropical Atlantic Ocean, rests

the picturesque islands of Guadeloupe. Before

Christopher Columbus discovered Guadeloupe in

1493, the Carib indigenous people of the Lesser

Antilles inhabited the land and named the island

Karukéra, which means “the island with beautiful

water.” However, the Spanish were unsuccessful

in colonizing the island, losing the battle to the

warlike Carib Indians. The French were able to

defeat the Caribs and were the first to colonize

the island.

An overseas region of France since 1635, this

Caribbean best kept secret has preserved its authentic

way of life and respect for the sun-kissed

people, land and sea. Although a cultural mix of

the African and French islanders, a majority of

Guadeloupians speak French, the country’s official

language. Creole patios is also widely spo-

intention. Having hired a native islander

as my guide and translator, I experienced

Guadeloupe from a local’s perspective

and it was a real treat.

Basse-Terre is the capital city of Guadeloupe

and the bigger of the two main

islands. An adventure seekers paradise,

La Grande Soufrière is one of the

youngest and most active volcanoes in

the Caribbean. Nearly a mile high, lush

tropical rainforest vegetation surrounds

the volcano with hiking trails ranging in

distance and difficulty. Advancing closer

towards the craters, temperatures

considerably drop, visibility decreases

and the sharp scent of sulfur encases

your nasal passages. Getting lost in

the tranquil beauty of the waterfalls,

soaking away my worries in the natural

hot springs of Basse-Terre, which is

supplied with hot water from La Grande

Soufrière volcano, was a euphoric experience

I won’t soon forget.

The steep and narrow roads along the

tops of towering sea cliffs made driving

a challenging and uncomfortable task.

Resting my faith in the skill level of my

friend, I refused to sit in the driver’s

seat, even with the rental car under my

name. The roundabouts, tight bends

and poor lighting after sunset along

Basse-Terre’s mountain roads felt too

dangerous for a non-driving New Yorker

to handle.

ken, which is a mixture of French, English, Spanish, Carib,

Portuguese, and African dialects.

The butterfly-shaped islands of Basse-Terre and Grande-Terre

are the main territories of the stunning French archipelago of

Guadeloupe. The two islands are separated by the Salée River

and a bridge connects the islands to one another.

With more hotels than any other island in the archipelago,

Grande-Terre is the ideal tourist backdrop. A beach-lover’s

paradise, miles of sandy white beaches, great restaurants and

nightclubs align the exotic east coast. Vacationing during the

high season, but avoiding the mainstream delights was my

All roads led to amazing cuisine, especially

at Deshaies La Plage de Cluny.

Off the beaten path, this quaint and

clothing optional beach is targeted towards

adults seeking tranquility and no

tan lines. Local vendors offered tasteful

surroundings and strong Ti Punch,

a rum-based mixed drink popular

throughout the island. French dishes

with a Caribbean twist— the richly

flavored fresh seafood echoed why

Guadeloupe is world renowned for its

extraordinary cuisine. An unforgettable

experience worth repeating, Guadeloupe

offers an escape from the fastpaced

life and easily coaxes visitors to

relax, release and repeat. A welcomed

disconnect and necessary indulgence.

On the hunt for passport stamps,

increasing international travel is a

goal with noexpiration date. A New

York implant, Alicia Mitchell is a digital

project manager, softball manager,

and lover of life and new experiences.



Celebrate the summer with a string

of Beer, Whiskey and Wine Festivals

Written by Bruce "Blue" RIvera

Whether for personal milestones, recognizing

one’s heritage, patriotism, religion, music

or a myriad of other reasons, all cultures love

celebrations and festivals. Probably some of

the most common and celebrated festivals

usually revolve around alcoholic beverages.

Why? Besides its bodacious flavor and notoriety

as the ultimate social lubricant and

party starter, alcohol has the magical power

that makes the world go round.

Liquor, wine, beer and cocktail festivals have

been around in some fashion forever but lately

have become particularly popular worldwide

as droves of enthusiasts flock from all

corners of the planet to experience some of

the best festivals the world has to offer. So if

you enjoy a nice cocktail when on your travels,

maybe it’s time you travel to drink.

Here are some of my recommendations to

the best beer, wine and cocktail events going

into the fall of 2016.

Haro Wine Festival

Where: Spain

When: June 28th -30th

According to the Haro Festival organizers,

each year between the 28th and 30th of June,

thousands of thirsty locals and a handful of

lucky tourists climb a mountain in La Rioja,

Spain, and throw massive amounts of wine

all over each other.

This festival was historically known as St Peter’s

Feast Day, but as this festival has grown

in size over the years it seems the historic

religious significance is practically lost in the

puddles of red liquid that are wiped from the

streets after the weekend’s events. This event

is most popularly known as “La Batalla de

Vino de Haro” or better known as the “Wine


This wine war is declared to celebrate its numerous

wineries attended by thousands of

tourists and wine loving locals alike. There



#WhatsNext in Urban Travel


are many events that follow this 50,000-liter

wine battle; from bullfighting to numerous

wine-tastings, there’s something for everyone

at The Haro Festival, as long as you love wine.

Make sure to get rest and rise early and bring

your corkscrew because festivities start at 7

am. Wine for breakfast anyone?

Tales of the Cocktail

Where: New Orleans

When: July 2016

Tales of the Cocktail is held annually in order

to gain a higher level of cocktail education or a

higher level of inebriation, depending on who

you ask. The festival is said to be the world’s

best cocktail festival highlighting what’s new

and up and coming in the cocktail industry.

The masterminds behind this festival have created

a place where people can come together

to embark on an adventurous journey of the

taste buds. Experience some of the best food

and craft-cocktail recipes created by the who’s

who of the spirit industry. From food served on

the finest of china to giant punch-filled trash

cans, anything goes as long as it’s innovative

and a crowd pleaser. But be mindful that when

you’re not tossing them back, this festival is

extremely informative and educational.

Tales of the Cocktail takes its instruction very

seriously, hosting not only informative parties

and tastings but also award ceremonies and

in-depth recipe composition and cocktail history

classes. Plain and simple, the organizers

really know cocktails and most importantly

how to enjoy them. The skillfully shaken itinerary

of events and guest speakers will keep any

attendee occupied as you learn how to mix

like the best and see firsthand the pulse of

what the spirit marketplace is all about. New

Orleans, with its rich history and knack for

unbridled flare in entertaining, surely will not

disappoint. So bottoms up!

The Joy of Sake

Where: Honolulu, Hawaii/NY, NY

When: July 22nd / Sept. 16th 2016

The Joy of Sake is the world’s largest sake

celebration outside of Japan and the festival

makes its appearance in Honolulu Hawaii Friday,

July 22nd and in New York NY Saturday,

September 16th with an array of more than

300 sakes. Made in traditional and contemporary

Asian sake style, top local chefs serve

sake inspired culinary delights and creations.

If you love sublime food and sake in peak condition,

then grab some of your closest tomodachi

and head to this one-of-a-kind event.

Perfect for passionate sake enthusiasts or

someone looking to get introduced to the wonderful

gift of sake from our friends in the far



Where: Munich, Germany

When: September / October

Oktoberfest is the world’s largest beer festival

held annually in Munich, Bavaria, Germany. It

is a 16-day festival running from late September

to the first weekend in October with more

than 6 million people from around the world

attending the event every year. The event is

all about one thing and that is beer and only

beer (no cocktail umbrellas or wine in sight

for miles).

One huge misconception is that Oktoberfest,

in all its beer filled glory, is a reason to partake

in massive consumption of beer. While

that may be partially true of this festival, it’s

only part of story. This heavenly brew is more

than a drink for the people of Munich; it is

integrated into the cultural fabric and foundation

of the city.

History states when founded in 1810, Oktoberfest

celebrated the marriage of the Crown

Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese of Saxe

Hildburghausen. It has increased in size over

its 200 -year history, most notably with the addition

of droves of bros, hipsters, beards, wifi,

bratwurst, electricity and glass beer steins

(not in any particular order).

The 16-day festival traditionally opens with a

military style twelve gun salute and the tapping

of the ceremonial first keg by the mayor

of Munich. The mayor also employees the

service of nearly 2,000 toilets and urinals

to provide relief for the more than 6 million

brew filled bladders in attendance during the

course of the festival. Officials estimate more

than 7 million liters are served over the 16-

day festival. So if you are ever in the mood

for a nice beer with 5,999,999 of your closest

friends, without a doubt Oktoberfest is the

only place to be.

Honorable Mentions

Whiskey Fest

September 23, 2016

San Francisco, CA US

Cape Town Bierfest

December 4th 2016

Cape Town, South Africa

Rum Bahamas

February 24th - 26th, 2017

Nassau, Bahamas

Plum Hollow

Moonshine Festival

May 26th – 28th 2017

Campobello, SC US

Bruce Blue Rivera , The Urban Mixologist,

is an accomplished mixologist

with over 16 years of bartending, wine

and spirits experience. Boasting an

impressive resume that spans across

12 countries and many awards and

winning cocktail recipes to his credit,

Bruce Blue Rivera teaches the history,

culture and application of bartending

and has been featured on Spike TV’s

Bar Rescue and Wendy Williams to

name a few.



We want to know how to serve you better. If you have a m

please visit to take our confident

We appreciate you support!



oment, then

ial survey.

An Urban Black

Travel Mag

Griots Republic Vol. 1 Issue 6

June 2016

Editor in Chief Davita McKelvey

Deputy Editor Rodney Goode

Copy Editor Alexis Barnes

Video Editor Kindred Films Inc.


Brian Blake

Business Manager

Alexandra Stewart


Mail To: 405 Tarrytown Rd STE 1356,

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Phone: 1 929-277-9290

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authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect

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