2016 is coming to an end and in this issue of Griots Republic Barrington Irving and Calvin Ramsey join us to talk about the Legacy of Black Travel. We also have stories on Moore Town's Freedom Fighter, Global Bath House Culture, Christmas Markets in Cologne, and the Cocktail scene in Shanghai. Do not miss our "REAL" articles on "Runcations" and traveling to Antartica!






Are you #TeamStay

or #TeamGo?



The Story of

Jamaica’s Female

Freedom FIghter

Dubai Blackout

Blackboard Africa

Travel As Spiritual


Calivn Ramsey, Barrington Irving & The Heritage

of African American Travel

Twelve issues completed and we are just as excited about the future

as we are about what we’ve all accomplished together this year.

Now let’s get into December...This is our Legacy issue, so we reached

out to some of the people who have broken the mold in travel. Barrington

Irving was one of the first people we interviewed and he literally

had us on the edge of our seats while telling us his story. Calvin

Ramsey, author, documentarian, and playwright of all things “The

Green Book” also sat down and talked with us about the legacy of

Black Travel. His interview is a must watch.

In this issue we also asked several travelers to keep it real and tell

us how we can replicate some of their experiences. Sonjia Mackey

was the first to step to the plate with her article on visiting Antartica.

(You know that the information is going to be good when the first recommendation

is that you reconsider it all together.) Joseph Gordon

also helped out by detailing how he organizes his “runcations.” If

you have any marathon goals for 2017, then definitely check out his

article. Looking for a new spa experience, then the ladies have you

covered with Bath houses around the world.

In this issue, we had to touch on the conversations many travelers

were having after the election - stay or leave. The questions raised

in the Great Debate article are questions we ask ourselves regularly

and we’d love to keep sharing your insights on this idea of fighting

through flight.So please read the article and send us a note because

we will definitely be continuing this conversation.

With all of that said, we want to wish you all Happy Holidays and

Merry Christmas. We will see you all in the New Year.


The Archivists







By Kamara Coaxum



By Kamara Coaxum

Traveling nowadays isn’t for the

faint at heart. Add a pet into the

fray and it might cause you to nix

a trip before it even gets started. Don’t!

Traveling with a pet can be rewarding

and with a few simple preparations, can

be as easy as finding that next flight



When it comes to flying there are certain

factors that you should consider,

such as, cabin vs. cargo cost, airline,

length of flight and cost.

Some of the best airlines to fly with

pets are Delta and JetBlue. Delta has

a track record for high on time departures,

great customer service and fewest

cancelled flights. These factors

make for a smoother flying experience

for you and your pet. JetBlue is the only

airline to offer a frequent flyer program

for pet called JetPaws. They also have

an online boutique where you can purchase

an assortment of travel-related

products for your fur baby.

Typically, prices for flying domestically

with pets range from $75 on Southwest

to $200 on Delta as either in cabin or

as a checked baggage.

Please note that making the decision to

check your pets as baggage is a personal

choice and should not be taken

lightly. Many airlines will decline to fly

brachycephalic breeds (pugs, shih tzus,

bulldogs and more) because of their

short muzzles and noses that could

compromise breathing. If you have no

other choice but to check your pets

as baggage, rest assured that the below-cabin

compartments are temperature

controlled and pressurized.

Depending on the size of your pooch,

they may be able to fly with you in the

cabin, under the seat in an airline-approved

carrier. Some airlines, such as

Southwest, only allow small pets on

board and do not offer the option to fly

them below-cabin.


Whether you fly or drive, come nighttime,

you and your pooch will need

somewhere to stay. Fortunately, there

are hotels for every budget that accommodate


Four Seasons, Fairmont and Lowes of-

fer extraordinary services for your small

pet. Upon check-in, your pet receives a

bed, food and water bowls and name

tags. They also provide pet concierge

services and offer handmade treats

and other pet goodies. Lowes even has

a room service menu dedicated to pets.


Kimpton, ALOFT and Ace hotels do

more then leave the light on, they also

provide pet concierge services that help

you find pet friendly restaurants and

parks. Kimpton even hosts a complimentary

wine reception where pets are


La Quinta, Best Western and Red Roof

are great options for those traveling

with pets. While you won’t find pet concierges

or wine tasting, you will find a

wonderful community of animal lovers.

Best Western allows larger dogs up to

80 pounds. With more then 800 locations,

LaQuinta is an industry leader

and allows two animals per room free

of charge.

Typically, hotels will only accept animals

weighing less then 25 pounds and

only accept two per reservation. Make

sure you call and let them know your

pet is traveling with you. Prices for pet

sleepovers range from free to $100 a


silicon or fabric not only save space but

are easy to pack. Depending on where

you go, you may want to pack a sweater

or boots to keep your little one warm

and dry. Don’t forget your pet’s favorite

food and toys, this will help them settle

into new quarters while traveling.

So, grab your bags and let your pet stick

his head out the window and allow the

breeze to whip though his fur. Have fun!


While pets don’t need their own suitcase,

there are a few things you should

not leave home without.

No matter your mode of transportation

you should always have your pets medical

records with you. Just to be safe,

make copies and store them separately.

Your vet should be able to print out

a report with up to date vaccinations

and medications. If you’re flying with

a pet, the airlines may require you to

have this. Don’t forget their rabies and

ID tag.

Your pet’s comfort is a top priority so

be sure to have a comfortable carrier

for them to rest and relax in. You will

need one to fly with your pet and whether

you have one for your road trip is

up to you. Leashes and harnesses are

necessary for walks wherever you go.

Bring a spare in case one gets lost or

destroyed. Collapsible dishes made of

Kamara has been an avid traveler

her whole life. She has

traveled to over 40 countries

and has lived in Abu Dhabi,

UAE and Beijing, China. She is

currently learning Arabic and

aspires to become a member

of the Traveler’s Century Club

within the next five years. Kamara

lives with her fur baby

Cinnamon in New York City.



After a long flight the first thing

most of us want to do is eat. Being

“hangry” is never a fun way to

start a vacation. Airport food is notoriously

underwhelming and overpriced,

and there are usually lackluster options

close by. But Maui is an exception. Da

Kitchen’s decadent Hawaiian “soul

food” is only a five-minute drive from

the airport. It is the perfect welcome to

Maui, literally giving visitors the local

flavor of the island.

Da Kitchen is an unassuming, family-friendly

restaurant tucked away in a

strip mall a couple of miles from Kahului

Airport. However, it’s been a Maui

institution for 16 years which explains

why there’s always a line. Between the

two locations (the other is a take-out

spot in Kihei) they serve 1500 to 2000

locals and tourists each day depending

on the season. But don’t let that deter

you, it’s worth the wait. Grab a plastic

chair outside and read a free copy of

“Maui Time,” the free weekly alternative

newspaper to find out what’s good

on the island.

out container, and serve it on a real plate

along with table service. “No one was

doing that when we first started. We pioneered

the fancy plate lunch,” shared

Brown. The menu comes from the type

of food they ate when they were growing

up so they tweaked each dish to make it

unique and bring out amazing flavors.

According to Tomita, he comes up with

recipes while he is sleeping!

The Notorious BIG Moco, Kalbi Ribs,

Fried Spam Musubi, Chicken Katsu, and

Hawaiian Plate are the most popular,

representing a variety of contemporary

Hawaiian cuisine. I’m regretting not

trying their famous Fried Spam Musubi

(grilled spam on a bed of rice wrapped

in seaweed and then fried) especially

since it was featured on the Food Network’s

“Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.”

The staff are incredibly friendly and accommodating,

certainly embodying the

“Aloha spirit.” Their extensive menu of

“Hawaiian soul food” is a collection of

Hawaiian dishes representing the fusion

of numerous ethnic groups like Japanese,

Chinese, Hawaiians, Filipinos, and

Koreans on the islands. Da Kitchen uses

fresh, local ingredients and offers gluten

free options. The owners, longtime

friends, Les Tomita and Mariah Brown,

wanted to have a restaurant that took

the typical Hawaiian plate lunch, which

was always served in a Styrofoam take

Spam gives me the heebie-jeebies but

when I saw it on my neighbors table, I

was envious. Instead, I chose the “Polynesian

Paralysis” with fish tempura,

their signature Kalua pork, fried rice,

onions, brown gravy and a fried egg

on top. I also got a side of kimchi because...digestion.

It was both flavorful

(especially that tender and juicy Kalua

pork) and plentiful! I ate it for lunch and

had my leftovers for dinner, breakfast

the next day plus an afternoon snack.

Let’s just say I visited Da Kitchen two

other times during my five days in Maui

ordering the same meal and then trying

a solid but boring ahi poke bowl. Stick

to the “Mocos” to really experience lo-

cal Hawaiian fare. Food, both in restaurants

and grocery stores, can be quite

expensive in Maui, but Da Kitchen gives

real value for your money.

Tomita and Brown have come a long

way since their opening in 1998 when

one of their partners took their investment

money and disappeared. They had

no restaurant experience and almost

closed their doors because of debt. But

thousands of locals petitioned them to

stay open so they renewed their lease

and have been feeding folks ever since.

In the years that followed they were

invited to participate as local chefs at

President Obama’s Inaugural Luau in

2009 and say how honored they were

to represent their state in Washington

DC. Da Kitchen has been featured on

the Travel Channel and in numerous regional

media outlets. It is now a thriving

award-winning business, and Tomita

and Brown are looking to open another

location in O’ahu.

So, when you land in Maui, don’t let anyone

tell you differently: eat at Da Kitchen.

Their Aloha spirit and savory dishes

will take you from hangry to happy.

Janna Zinzi is a travel, arts

and culture writer chronicling

fierce folks making positive

change and creating joy in the

world. She is also an artist, activist

and co-founder of @GoddessesRising.

Follow her adventures on

Instagram: @goddessjaz.





Historically, the traditional drinking culture in China

involved drinking shots of alcohol called Baijiu

(also known as Shaojiu, which means “burning

alcohol”) over long periods of time while screaming

“Ganbei” meaning “dry cup” in mandarin. Baijiu looks

exactly like vodka or gin and is predominantly distilled

from sorghum.

Baijiu is produced all over China, but can taste very different

based on the region it was created in. For example,

in southern China, it is made from rice grain; while

in northern China it is derived from sorghum, millet,

barley and wheat. Baijiu can range anywhere from 38%

to 60% proof, so it’s pretty safe to hold onto your beer

or Shirley Temple. Unless you are an avid and accomplished

drinking professional this is not made for the

novice at all.

If a toast is presented to you it would be disrespectful

to turn down or decline the offer of said drink, especially

in terms of discussing business, or in meetings.

Conducting business over Baijiu is not rare by any

means. It’s a norm and some would say it is “the cost

of doing most business” in the competitive landscape

of Shanghai. The Chinese have a belief that to foster a

good relationship with clients or potential

business partners you must host or

impress in grand form to gain respect

and admiration, but most importantly

their business. However, once you start

Craft cocktails

have been a highly

overlooked aspect

of bartending in

Shanghai for a very

long time.

partaking in this drinking labyrinth of

ego and pride, it may be difficult to

back out and you may be “diu mianzi.”

In other words, you will “lose face” or

“lose standing” with future business opportunities.

So a high tolerance in consuming

your fair share can be interpreted

as having good business practices.

It’s pretty amusing considering most

business men will likely have no recollection

of what type of contract or deal

they may be signing up for while drunk.

Even with the horrors of drunkenly created

Mega deals and contracts, there is

something far worse than throwing in

the towel while out on a business meeting

drink fest – it’s creating a bad reputation

for your boss and your company.

So it is best to be prepared to stay out

all night and work on that tolerance.

Now for those that have a love for business,

but may not be the greatest drink-

er, there is good news for you. It is permitted

to bring someone and delegate

them as your designated drinker. Yes,

you read that correctly. Having a designated

drinker is a common practice

amongst upper level executives who are

generally older or have health problems

that prevent them from such binge

drinking activities. These executives

happily elect representatives from their

company to guzzle down large quantities

of alcohol and save the company’s

reputation. Most representatives find it

to be an honor, bringing a whole new

meaning to employee of the month in

China. So with all the focus on hosting

and saving face, where does the craft

cocktail, décor, the bartender, the mixologist,

and the elegance of creating

cocktails come to play?

Craft cocktails have been a highly overlooked

aspect of bartending in Shanghai

for a very long time. Especially in

the very opulent, yet business centric,

bar industry Shanghai is best known

for. However, the culture has been getting

a bit of a facelift. With the arrival of

younger and extremely talented mixologists

and bartenders from around the

globe, the industry is going through a

cocktail revolution and it’s shaking and

stirring up something very new. Baijiu is

still considered the most popular drink

on the dinner table, as it is a tradition

passed down for generations. Also,

most locals still do not regard cocktails

as serious drinks. However, as more

cocktail bars open and provide people

with greater exposure to the cocktail

culture, a change is imminent.

Interestingly enough, Shanghai’s original

cocktail culture started around the

early 1990s when foreigners began to

open a number of bars and nightclubs

in the French Concession. This was the

spark of what many experts say ushered

in Shanghai’s new cocktail renaissance

that began in 2012. Shanghai’s

cocktail culture isn’t growing, it can be

seen as more of an explosion of new

talent and tastes the likes the world

has never seen. The old craft cocktail

landscape, void of much emphasis on

creativity and quality ingredients such

as fresh-squeezed juices and housemade

syrups, really created

a frontier for those willing

to accept the challenge of

introducing this side of the

industry to Shanghai.

Few were brave enough to

answer this call and bring

forth not only a quality product,

but also an experience

that can be used to impress

and attract corporate hosts.

To say that this was a tall order

would be an understatement,

but the professionals

that have risen to the challenge

are beyond outstanding

and are superstars in the

mixology & spirit industry

worldwide. People like Shingo

Gokan, the acclaimed

Japanese mixologist who

entertains at Speak Low,

a speakeasy where the entrance

can be found hidden

behind a bookshelf. Speak

Low finds itself is ranked

#15 on the world’s best bars

list and Gokan is also known

for running the famous Angel’s Share

bar in New York.

Others are Eddy Yang, Brand Ambas-

sador & Drink Magazine Asia Business

Development Manager and owner of

Tailor Bar. Also, Texas-born Yao Lu,

currently the co-owner and bartender

of The Union Trading Company, a

bar that has already been placed #9 in

the Asia’s 50 Best Bars in 2016. Sam

Kuan, owner at Barules Cocktail Club,

has also crafted a special display at Barules

that embraces and educates patrons

on the historical heritage of the

cocktail industry. Another notable is

Puerto Rican native, Macarena Rotger,

Bar manager at Shangri-La Hotels and

Resorts. He arrived in China earlier this

year but wasted no time in creating an

exquisite high end hotel bar program

that is second to none. These trail blazing

taste making pioneers are unapologetically

at the forefront of a tremendous

movement in many different ways,

but all with one goal in mind, to make it

known that “Shanghai is absolutely China’s

top cocktail city right now.” “The

amount of talent, passion and support

here is bar none compared to other cities

in the country,” said Yao.

Shanghai’s cocktail

culture isn’t growing,

it can be seen as more

of an explosion of new

talent and tastes the

likes the world has

never seen.

The shanghai cocktail industry and its

enthusiasts are taking note as fine quality

bar experiences are becoming much

easier to find in this large city. At the

start of this movement there were only

a few craft cocktail bars around for patrons

to go to, but today you can easily

find at least 20 quality bars in Shanghai;

some are run by Master mixologists/

bartenders and worldwide bartending

champions. One can only appreciate

this transition and watch with awe as

the culture replicates, adopts and manifests

its own path, expanding to match

the limitless imagination of the people

creating it.

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’s spans

across 15 countries with many award winning

cocktail recipes to his credit. Bruce “Blue “

Rivera teaches the History and cultural application

of bartending and has been featured

on Spike TV’s Bar Rescue and the Wendy Williams

Show to name a few. To learn More

about The Urban Mixologist Check out www.


Black Travel Profiles

Captain Barrington Irving, born in Jamaica in 1983, has traveled to 50

countries, conducted over 30 STEM expeditions, successfully challenged

middle school students to build a car faster than a Ferrari 430,and had

high schoolers build a plane he flew on its test flight. In 2007, he set two world

records—at age 23—as the youngest person and first black pilot to fly solo

around the world. He has a passion to explore, inspire, and educate others.

With his innovative Flying Classroom curriculum, Barrington is transforming

the way students learn STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) by

engaging them in problem-solving activities that enable them to overcome new


A Magna Cum Laude graduate of Florida Memorial University, Barrington was

the recipient of a 2008 Congressional Resolution acknowledging his work in

aviation education. He received the Guinness World Record as the youngest

person to fly solo around the world and was named a National Geographic

Emerging Explorer in 2012.



By Rosalind Cummings-Yeates

Bumpy roads and steep hills lay the path to Moore Town, located deep in

the Blue Mountains and along the Rio Grande River of eastern Jamaica.

Lush, tangled foliage covers most of the rugged landscape; pointing

to the area’s history as a hard to reach refuge for the enslaved. Also called

New Nanny Town, in honor of the legendary freedom fighter and Jamaican

National Heroine, Nanny. who founded the community in 1739, Moore Town

represents a phenomenal legacy of independence and preserved culture.

I walked into the Moore Town cultural center, a small, tin-roofed dwelling

painted with scenes from the village’s history, feeling nervous anticipation.

Years ago, I had visited the Jamaican Maroon village of Accompong, in the

parish of St.Elizabeth but the colonel wasn’t available for me to get a full

tour. Only the community-elected colonel can approve an in-depth visit and

this time, Colonel Wallace Sterling was waiting to explain the significant history

of Moore Town and its freedom fighters.

“Akwaba,” said Col. Sterling, a wiry and placid-faced man who has led the

Moore Town village for over 20 years. “That means welcome in our Kromanti

language,” he explained. “Our foreparents

mostly came from Africa and some

were indigenous inhabitants:Arawaks

and Tainos. Africans came with Columbus

too but nothing remained the same

once Columbus came to this part of the

world. Most of our African foreparents

joined with the Amerindians living in the

mountains to escape the Europeans.”

But living in a secluded mountain hideaway

wasn’t all that Sterling’s ancestors

did. Under the leadership of “Grandy

Nanny” as they call her, the group battled

the British with stunning guerilla

warfare, resisting capture for almost

80 years and forming free communities

of hundreds of the formerly enslaved.

“They were good at ambush,” explained

the colonel. “They would be camouflaged

as trees and when soldiers were

close, they would slit their throat. They

would blow the abeng {traditional horn

made from a cow’s horn} to tell people

the soldiers are coming. There are

different notes that represent different

things. It’s our code. You can use it anywhere

in the hills. It’s the original cellular


As the community welcomed me and

other visitors, a man with his locs

piled high in a black cloth, pulled out

the abeng to commemorate the occasion.

He blew short blasts that echoed

through the room and surrounding

area. Several teens in casual summer

shirts gathered around two drummers

who beat handmade goatskin drums.

They danced with intricate steps, as the

drummers chanted in Kromanti. Watching

the dancers and how they responded

to the music, it was clear that the Kromanti

traditions that the group brought

from Ghana were still alive. “We make

drums the same way our ancestors did

200-300 years ago,” said the colonel.

“We play the same rhythms, the same

songs that record the history of our ancestors.”

Besides English, the community

also speaks the language handed

down from their Ghanaian descendents.

“Twi and Fante (dialects spoken primarily

in Ghana) dominate our language,”

he said. “The government called our

grandparents Maroons, which comes

from the Spanish cimarron, which

means wild and untamed. It’s a derogatory

word. They called themselves

yenkunkun, which means free, independent

people in Akan.”

Guiding us outside to the community’s

most sacred spot of Bump Grave, where

Nanny is buried, the colonel showcased

the rolling acres of land that his ancestors

fought for in order to retain their

freedom. According to the Jamaica National

Heritage Trust, the 1739 Peace

Treaty originally provided 500 acres but

Nanny pressed for more and eventually

acquired 1,270 acres of tax free land

that remains under the community’s

autonomous control The land stretches

out in green hills that seem to be covered

in a peaceful, mystical vibe. Just

outside of the cultural center, Bump

Grave rises as a simple stone monument

to Nanny. It’s surrounded by a

fence that adds to the solemnity of the

spot, which overlooks a tree lined hill

that offers a sweeping view of Moore

Town. A short walk along the river reveals

Nanny Falls, the legendary waterfall

behind which the freedom fighters

would disappear during battles with the


Before I left Moore Town, I bought a

necklace strung with the red seeds from

a local tree, handmade by Karan, a soft

spoken teen whose eyes flickered with

pride of his heritage. I wear it whenever

I want to call up the strength of Nanny

and the Moore Town freedom fighters.

Rosalind Cummings-Yeates is a Chicago

based writer, author and blogger. She specializes

in cultural travel stories that reflect

a destination’s history and traditions. Island

hopping is one of her favorite hobbies

and Jamaica is always at the top of her itinerary.

Follow her adventures with her blog,

Farsighted Fly Girl at

and on Twitter

and Instagram @farsightedgirl.



By Mike Haynes-Pitts

As an atheist, for me spirituality means finding solace in a number of

different ideals that help you in your journey to inner peace. Many

people have religious or spiritual moments when they travel that attune

with these instances. In my experience, travel is the spirituality. If

you think about what you usually do when you travel, there are many similarities

from packing rituals, to understanding new beliefs, marveling at

works of religion, and experiencing transcendental moments.

Whenever I get ready for a trip, I have rituals and practices that I always do.

From making sure I have flights, lodging, sights and experiences in order

for each respective country. This process never fails and it is always my

ritual. As for the true spiritual experience, this happens at a few specific

occurrences on journey: walking and meeting the local people, seeing the

highlighted sights and nature, and simply interacting with the experience

of being within a new setting.

Meeting people in other countries is a deeply moving experience. When I

traveled on a plane from Johannesburg to Cape Town I met a Bantu lady

who was so excited that I had decided to visit, in my case the Fatherland,

that she wanted to give me a tour. She also gave me a lot of insight into

the country, post-apartheid in terms of race relations and the prevalence

of Christianity. She and her friend showed me their home, which was much

nicer than my own. Afterwards, we went to the slums of Cape Town for a

great braii (South African barbecue) at a joint called Mzoli’s. This was

spiritual in that it was my first time meeting and seeing how Africans lived

in Africa. As such, seeing the difference of what you had always grown up

thinking about Africa versus being there was startling. It is most welcom-

At times the spirituality

of travel comes from

being in an unfamiliar

place that welcomes you

into their culture with

open arms.

ing when you go to a country you have

long wanted to and the people welcome

you with open arms.

As many of my spiritual journeys overseas

were through experiences with

people, many instances of spirituality

came through a combination of people

and structure. Within Myanmar,

my most spiritual moment came from

talking to a Theravada Buddhist monk

at the Shwedagon Pagoda. The monk

had impeccable English and wanted

to educate me on the tenants of Buddhism.

As I knew a lot about Buddhism

from having taught the history of it at

my school, I was able to discuss a lot of

the knowledge with him. While we conversed,

many Myanmar people stared

in awe of me, as they have had limited

tourism since 2011, so I stood out to

the large amount of local tourists.

The true moment of spirituality was

when we walked around the huge and

glorious (one of the largest temples

in the world) Shwedagon Pagoda and

poured water on my necessary holy

day. This was a ritual and most vividly

this was a spiritual experience in seeing

Buddhism from a place of origin. At

the same time, the Americanism of the

monk made for a duality that makes

the essence of travel spiritual in and of


At times, the spirituality of travel comes

from being in an unfamiliar place that

welcomes you into a culture with open

arms. No more was this more apparent

than the night that I prayed with Muslims

at the Umiyyad Mosque (the oldest

university in the world) in Fes, Morocco

during Ramadan. I met an Indian Muslim

friend in my hostel that had been

praying for Ramadan. He said that not

only would I blend in, but that my respect

for the Muslim faith would be welcomed

in the university.

We practiced the prayer for Ramadan

and I went through the whole process

of observing Ramadan in breaking fast,

praying the correct way in unison with

the other men and giving greetings.

Still, the highlight of this experience

was standing with other Muslims in reflection

of the Umiyyad Mosque for all

that it symbolized; as the oldest center

of knowledge in Africa, a continent that

is consistently shunned for its apparent

lack of foundational education in my

home country of America. The respect

I already had for Islam due to my time

visiting mosques in Turkey, was only

deepened by this spiritual experience.

Through my experiences, there are

many facets to the world that can be

summed up in a spiritual sense. However,

the spiritual journey of travel can be

deeply cathartic as it allows for breaks

from the normal routine and a chance

to partake in new experiences that can

teach you about yourself. Through the

people of the new lands and the experiences

I have with them, I am often

able to have a spiritual awakening that

comes from leaving behind the familiar.

This is what makes coming home always

difficult. When I am abroad, I reach nirvana

through the act of changing my

mindset in foreign lands. As such, I encourage

you to take your spiritual journey

of enlightenment in whatever travels

you take on next.

Mike Haynes-Pitt is the writer behind

the blog and website Multiethnic Mastery.

There he seeks to educate people

about knowledge in a variety of categories.

Visti Mike at the following:



Instagram: mhptonyc

Twitter: CaliforniaHP

Facebook: Mike Haynes-Pitts

By Founders Zingisa Socikwa & Amonge Sinxoto

Blackboard is a platform for

African youth to build and

freely express our perceptions

about the past present and future.

We want to redefine and model how

people in the world view our African

identity and move away from negative

preconceived colonial settings. The

need came about when we stumbled

across a disturbing conversation of

teenage boys discussing the portrayal

of black girls and how they do not

deem us as an ideal fantasy. These

conversations were increasingly doing

their rounds and gaining popularity in

schools around Johannesburg leading

to some heated exchange of differing

perspectives from other young people

We recognize

that it’s time we

pay attention

and revisit the

depiction of

black girls in our


as they shared hair-raising arguments

with interactive text and voice notes in

their group chats.

The whole situation became very

sad when we realized that the image

of the black girl has been severely

damaged, corrupted and tarnished

over the years both in our minds and

in the minds of those around us. This

relates to people’s view on “Beauty”,

“Intellect”, “Strength” and “Esteem”.

It was rather appalling to see how black

girls are increasingly being viewed in a

strange and distasteful manner in our

society. Similarly, we see that popular

culture and media has played a critical

influence in defining what the ideals

and model characteristics of a perfect

girl should be. It became clear that

this was not just an isolated instance;

it was part of a growing social fabric

producing fruits of deep-rooted

indoctrination that stems from a long

history promoting white supremacy.

The minds of young people today

are still largely influenced by strong

colonial themes that degrade black

people and exalt whiteness.

How were the young black African girls

affected by the obvious distain towards

African female figures? Many felt

violated and it exposed the common

frustrations that numerous girls face on

a daily basis. There was now common

ground for such conversations but

no space for them to reside and as a

result revelations like this were made

a big spectacle for a few days but then

it would pass. No one would take note

of how people were affected. That was

when we realized that the need for us

to have a space to vent, praise and

just engage with like-minded people

was necessary. We recognize that

it’s time we pay attention and revisit

the depiction of black girls in our

generation. Consequently, Blackboard

was born.

We called our movement Blackboard

because it carries a timeless metaphor

that we want all young black girls to

remember. We are black, and made

of hardened material but at the same

time we are smooth and soft. We have

been written onto by society’s “white

chalk” since the beginning of time.

Blackboard is about us erasing all of

that and being the ones to portray

ourselves in the way in which we feel

we need to be portrayed. Blackboard

is aimed at Africans because that’s

where we identified the most lack. We

do recognize that there is a lack in the

black community in general but we

wanted to start at home.

We started our website www. and that

is where the bulk of our content

lives and breathes. Blackboard is a

collaborative project so we try to get

people in our immediate access to

share their experiences and stories.

We want to promote a lifestyle in its

entirety the hard hitting issues but

also an everyday culture. Our website

is the first building block for what we

are trying to drive, it’s a cyber space,

thus making it accessible to a broader

audience. Our ultimate goal is to travel

the African continent and connect

with other African youth. We have

also recently branched out to create

a physical space for constructive and

insightful conversation to animate.

Our current projects are only the

beginning because we understand

that there is still so much that needs

to be done. We need to get into a

critical thinking mindset. Liberation

of young black minds is fundamental

to cultivating reform. That’s a weight

that we as the youth need to bear for

ourselves and we must use the current

leaders as our mentors.

Blackboard. A place.

A person. A purpose.


Black Travel Profiles

Nathan Fluellen, the creator and host of World Wide Nate – the quintessential

guide to living a global lifestyle, has been traveling the world since 2004. He

has visited 50 countries and 6 continents, making it look thrilling and chic.

His interest in traveling was stoked during high school, when his mother would

travel on missionary trips abroad. Her stories and experiences helped him realize

that traveling the world was not only an option, but also a necessity. While at Tennessee

State University, Nathan’s professor, Dr. Gallen Hull, who had visited over

80 countries, further ignited his interest in traveling, by sharing his autobiography

and challenging Nathan to see more of the world than him. He aptly accepted.

Nathan’s adventures have been sponsored by Chase Marriott, Time, Fortune, Travel

+ Leisure, Ford & Lincoln Motors,,,, & South African Tourism Board. He is a 3-time winner of LAWebfest’s

Most Outstanding Series and Series Host.

You can follow all of World Wide Nate’s adventures at and

on social media via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and SnapChat @worldwidenate.




Start Planning Your 2017 “Runcation” Now

By Joseph P. Gordon II


Runcation can be summed up as

planning a trip or vacation around

running. “Wait? Runcation? Did you

just make that up?”, you may have just

asked. There may even have been a follow

up question of “Why would I ever run on

my vacation?” Although the word runcation

is fairly new and made up, the idea

of using vacation time to run has been

gaining traction and popularity in recent

times. This can be seen on the domestic

and international front.

For the avid runner, this is your time to

explore new terrains. You will be exposed

to different routes, scene, and running

conditions to keep yourself entertained

and yet challenged. This may also be

used as a time to escape. This can be an

opportune time for you to leave the brutal

winter conditions and run the Reggae

Half Marathon in sunny beautiful Jamaica

for example.

For the avid traveler, this is your time to

explore the city in a new way. Why do a

hop-on hop-off bus tour, when you can

run the city? This is just another way to

be submerged in the culture of the city

you visit. You also get to enjoy the many

health benefits of running. Imagine being

on vacation, but also improving your

mental health, losing weight, relieving

stress, preventing disease (especially diseases

that African Americans are more

susceptible to such as high blood pres-



Did you

just make

that up?”

sure). This sounds like a dream vacation!

It is important to note that the trip does

not have to focus on a full marathon of

26.2 miles. You know what you are capable

of doing/training for. There are plenty

of OCRs, 5Ks, 10Ks, etc. depending on

what your passion and level of running

is. Any amount of activity is beneficial for

your health and can be enjoyable.

My first runcation was in 2015 when I

traveled to Reykjavík, Iceland to run the

Reykjavík Half Marathon. I went to Reykjavík

with like-minded urban travelers as

a meetup event. The goal was to finish

the race, while still enjoying the vacation

time and absorbing the beauty of Iceland.

When it comes to the race itself, this was

an amazing experience. This experience

was quite different compared to previous

half marathons I have completed locally.

Running 13.1 miles with the beautiful

Icelandic scenery in the background is a

stark difference to running loops around

a park in a busy city. Although the crowd

participation and spectatorship during

the Reykjavík Half Marathon was nothing

compared to bigger races, such as

the New York City Marathon, it was still

amazing to see the local Icelanders come

out and bang on their pots and pans to

show support. After finishing the race,

we were able to stay a few more days to

enjoy the scenes and attractions, such as

a well-deserved soaking in the Blue Lagoon.

As a runner and traveler, this trip

fulfilled two passions at the same time.

There are different ways to go about booking

your first runcation. If you want to be

more cost-efficient and put in some time

and research, you can build your runcation

itinerary from scratch. This was the

method I utilized for my first trip. Once

you have the potential race or country in

mind, you can start booking other essential

basics such as lodging, airfare, local

transportation, race fees, etc. You will be

in charge of making sure everything is

planned and the logistics are done properly.

If you want to minimize the preparation

needed and just show up and run,

there are travel agencies that specialize

in global marathons and races. These

agencies will book everything for you,

from airfare, to race fees, to lodging. This

will free up your time to focus on training.

Most of these global marathon travel

agencies specialize in different type of

races so there is something for everyone.

There are some agencies that focus on

large and famous races, such as the New

York City Marathon or the Boston Marathon,

while some focus on exotic races/

locations, such as the Havana Marathon

[Cuba], Great Wall Marathon [China], or

the Antarctica Marathon [Antarctica].

Imagine running a race in Antarctica!

This could be on your bucket list too! So

go out and run the world!

Joseph Gordon is currently a Certified

Public Accountant (CPA) by day and a

Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) by night.

He considers his passions to be working

out, running, traveling and helping others

however possible. Although there are

a few career paths that interests him at

the moment, he ultimately want to open

his own gym/ fitness center to help those

that need it reach their full potential. He

also wants start a not-for-profit to help

kids fight childhood obesity.

Twitter and IG: senor_gohard




As a frequent traveler and avid bucket-lister,

it was always a goal of

mine to visit all seven continents

of the world, which I accomplished this

past May! As I started planning and researching

my trip to Antarctica; however,

I realized very few people I knew had

ever been there. In fact, according to

statistics from Iaato and Index Mundi,

less than 1% of the world’s population

will ever visit this wild, remote frontier!

From the people who said, “Bring me

back a t-shirt from the Hard Rock

Café!” to the people who said, “Get me

a souvenir cup from Starbucks!” to the

people who asked, “What hotel did you

book?” – it was clear to me that general

knowledge is lacking and there are

many misconceptions surrounding this

largely unexplored continent. The following

tips will not only help you understand

more about this mysterious

continent, but plan your own potential

journey to the land of penguins, seals,

whales, and glaciers!


Antarctica is not for everyone! If you

don’t like: nature or animals; cold, dry

weather; cruises; long cruises; if you

get severe motion sickness (the twoday

Shake & Bake Drake Passage is notorious);

if you aren’t physically fit or

have difficulty walking; if you’re afraid

of the water; if you don’t have many

vacation days; if you only do cheap,

budget-friendly trips; if you need a

kid-friendly trip – if you fall into any of

these categories, you should seriously

reconsider if a trip to Antarctica is

right for you. Antarctica should NOT be

an ego trip (pun intended). If you don’t

carefully consider these variables, you

could be in for one of the worst travel

experiences of your life!


While skipping the cruise and Drake Passage,

and flying directly into Antarctica

is possible, the vast majority of travelers

cruise into the continent, which is less

expensive. This is an important consideration

given the overall trip will probably

be one of the most expensive trips

you will ever take! The cruise option is

also selected

more often

because people

want the

full Antarctic


the same experience


explorers had

upon the first discoveries of Antarctica.

The continent can be inhospitable, unpredictable,

and potentially dangerous,

and a cruise there is considered an expedition,

not a vacation. Consequently,

it’s important to select an expedition

company with years of safe, reliable

experience in the region. Ships include

typical cabin accommodations, basic

amenities (e.g. gym, spa), and a restaurant

serving a variety of foods to please

different palates, but don’t expect the

variety and caliber of entertainment

and amenities found on the current

mega-ships by operators such as Carnival,

Princess, or Royal Caribbean. The

guests on the average Antarctic cruise

are anything but average. While they are

low in diversity and tend to be older in

age, most are well-traveled, with many

checking off their last continent with

the trip to Antarctica.


The majority of travelers fly into Buenos

Aires, Argentina. They spend the night,

then take a three-hour charter flight

to Ushuaia, Argentina to explore this

quaint little town before boarding the

cruise ship. The typical Antarctica cruise

is a minimum

of nine days,

not including

Antarctica should

NOT be an ego trip

(pun intended)

time spent

in Argentina.

Many cruise


may offer

savings by including

the night in Buenos Aires, charter

flight to Ushuaia, breakfast, and

transfers in their Antarctica packages

so be sure to check for that. Because of

these discounts, travelers will reserve

A trip to Antarctica

will probably be

one of the most

expensive trips

you will ever take.

Antarctica cruises early – as much as one

to two years in advance – so book early

for the best pricing! For U.S. citizens, no

visa is required for Argentina or Antarctica;

however, you do need to pay a reciprocity

fee (~$160) for Argentina, which will be

verified in the U.S. at airport check-in and

again upon arrival in Argentina.


Most cruise operators have zodiac (small

raft) excursions twice a day where you explore

land and water for glacier and wildlife

viewing. You will see all manner of

penguins, seals, and whales during your

expedition as well as large (often calving)

glaciers of various shapes and sizes. Landings

will often involve ascent hikes allowing

you to get a bird’s eye view of the surrounding

area. Besides amenities like the gym

and/or spa, almost all cruise operators offer

lectures and videos educating guests

on Antarctica. Additionally, adventurous

activities such as kayaking, stand-up paddle

boarding, scuba-diving, and overnight

camp-outs on the ice are often available

at an added cost. For many, the highlights

of many cruises include plunging into the

frigid waters of Antarctica, and securing

the ceremonial Antarctica passport stamp

and drinking homemade vodka at the

southernmost public bar in the world,

both at the Vernadsky Ukrainian Research



Almost every cruise operator provides

rubber boots and parkas (which are

yours to keep). The rest of your daily

clothing is about smart layering and

winter accessories. Moisture-wicking

thermal tops and bottoms, fleece and

wool middle layers, and waterproof

outer layers are staples. In fact, most

operators will not you disembark for

daily excursions without waterproof

pants! Finish your layers off with a good

hat, ear covering, a scarf or neck gaiter

(fleece or wool), gloves (waterproof with

warm liners), and socks (moisture-wicking)

– and you will stay warm and dry in

the most extreme of Antarctic temperatures.

Many ships also have an outdoor

pool or indoor sauna in addition to a

gym, so bring a swimsuit and work-out


The air in Antarctica is cold and dry

– bring sunscreen and your preferred

remedies for dry, parched skin. Lastly,

bring all electronic and viewing equipment

for photos, videos, and entertainment

on the ship in your cabin (e.g.

camera, cell phone, binoculars, tablet,

laptop). As you pack all of this, remember

to adhere to the baggage limits of

both your international and internal

flight operators. If you plan to spend

several days in Argentina, the weather

could be very different from Antarctica

– pack accordingly. (P.S. I purchased all

winter clothing essentials from Sun &

Ski Sports).


As mentioned earlier, a trip to Antarctica

will probably be one of the most

expensive trips you will ever take. Besides

the actual cruise cost, which will

most likely be a minimum of $5,000

per person (even with discounts!), additional

costs to plan and prepare for an

Antarctica cruise can include: international

and in-country Argentina flights;

Buenos Aires and Ushuaia food, accommodations,

activities, and transfer fees;

optional cruise activities, optional ship

beverage packages; ship internet packages;

clothing, electronic equipment;

taxes and fees; gratuities; and souvenirs.

As you can see, there is much to consider

when contemplating and planning

an Antarctica expedition. As you can

also see from the photos, it can be a

trip well worth the time to plan and the

expense to go; truly, the adventure and

bucket list check-off of a life-time!

Sonjia Mackey is best known for

her extensive travel and bucket

list adventures which have taken

her to 39 states, 66 countries,

and all 7 continents. 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!


Black Travel Profiles

Calvin Alexander Ramsey was born in Baltimore, Maryland and

grew up in Roxboro, North Carolina. His writing career was established

five days before the 9/11 bombings in 2001, Ramsey says

he “found his voice.”

At age 51, Ramsey launched a career as a playwright that has not only

produced significant works and accomplishments, but has also sparked

important debate. His first work, The Green Book, a two-act play about

the difficulties African-Americans faced while traveling during the Jim

Crow era was based on his research on The Negro Motorist Green Book,

a manual directing Blacks to “safe” restaurants, hotel and gas stations.

Ramsey says his work is guided by the African proverb: ‘When an old

person dies, it’s like a library burning down.’

Ramsey served for 3 years on the Georgia Council for the Arts Theater

Panel. He is also a proud recipient of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Drum Major for Justice.


Although the journey of 1619 from

Africa to the United States was

involuntary, the once enslaved African

developed a personal attachment

to the land of the free. As our ancestors

fought and died as

patriots with White

Americans to liberate

this country

from the British,

they were simultaneously


those same White

Americans for the freedoms they themselves

desired here in this country.

Are we so used to the

struggle that we don’t

know how to walk

away from an abusive


From the Underground Railroad to the

Thirteenth Amendment, from our own

Black Wall Street in Oklahoma to the

Civil Rights movement, African Americans

have continued to grasp at the idealism

of freedom

and equality in

America. Although

the movement towards

equality over

the last 150 years

has been long and

arduous (two steps

forward and one step back), the fortitude

of the Afro-American has empow-

The Donald.

The election of Donald Trump has

caused many Black Americans to accept,

maybe once and for all, the true

sentiments of America. The country,

that appeared to be progressing in the

acceptance of the ideals and beliefs of

all its citizens, once again brandishes

its fiery sword of hatred. The rhetoric

that spewed from the lips of Trump,

during his campaign, seemed to merely

be a reminder to us that ignorance

still existed among a selected group

of Americans. Although it is difficult

for Black Americans to feel completely

assured that America will protect

our rights (due to our historical experiences

with white hate) many remained

optimistic that our country would not

want a man with the pretentiousness of

Donald Trump in office. That bubble of

optimism was bitterly deflated on November

8, 2016.

ered us to continue the political and social

struggle for freedom.

It was the Black American fight for freedom

and equality that two-stepped us

right into the Oval Office. The sense of

pride we felt with the election of President

Obama was accompanied by a

feeling of accomplishment. We shall

overcome...began to look as if we were

overcoming. Despite the continued rise

in mass incarceration and the relentless

killing of innocent blacks by law

enforcement, there still seemed to be

that ever present sense of hope. Until...

The next morning the celebration of the

Republican Party and the joyful sounds

of merriment from white nationalist

were drowned out by the dejected discussions

of the Democratic Party. Yet,

the resilient Black American woke up

with the mindset of back to business

as usual. This is only another setback

we must endure and the on-going efforts

to achieve freedom and equality

will not cease. However, this time the

conversation includes an alternate approach

to liberty. Is it possible that the

labor of our antecessors was not solely

for the right to be treated equal here in

Is it possible that

the labor of our

antecessors was not

solely for the right

to be treated equal

here in America,

but also, the right to

move freely...

America, but also, the right to move

freely as a nation or individually

throughout the world; to one day

completely liberate ourselves from

the clenching pain of being treated

like second class citizens? Is it time

for Blacks to leave America?

Many will argue that this is our

home and our ancestors fought

for our rights to such claim. We

pay taxes and our contributions to

America are so vast that not only

are we entitled to be here, but we

are an intricate part of the fabric

that makes America great.

Still, the color of our skin gives a police

officer the justification to shoot

and kill us with no remorse and often

not more penalty than a slap on

the wrist. Even so, many would rebut

that we are used to the struggle.

Blacks have always had to deal with

the oppression of the man. But, are

we so used to the struggle that we

don’t know how to walk away from

an abusive relationship?

When slavery was abolished, freed

African Americans feared venturing

away from the plantation. Where

would they go? They were free but

still depended on their masters

for food and shelter. So, many remained

on the plantation working

in the fields as they did before, continuing

to deal with the mistreatment

because they didn’t know

anything else. Is it time to once

again leave Massa’s plantation?

Can the notion of equality that

Blacks long for be across the Atlantic?

Can the freedoms we continue

to march for be found beyond the

Pacific? Is it possible that south of

the equator we can live in a place

where we feel equal not because

of our education or the size of our

bank accounts? Can home be any

place where the many hues of our

blackness is not seen through the

eyes of fear, but revered with humanity?

Blacks are fast approaching the

2019 landmark of 400 years in the

United States. With the evolution

from African to African American,

then Afro-American to Black Americans

and now to just Blacks, is it

possible that we are also ready to

detach America from our concept

of freedom and equality?

Costa Rica sounds nice!

Arek & Felicia Bryant are

Oakland through and

through. Arek is the owner

of HHK Records and an on

air personality at KPFA Radio

and Felicia is Firefighter.

When they aren’t creating

music and putting out fires,

they are exposing their family

of four to all the world

has to offer through homeschool.



Bathhouse culture

from Japan to Russia

Liz Henry





Marsha Nelson

By Liz Henry

Hammams are an integral part of

Middle Eastern culture, but can

be found all over the globe. Traditionally

individuals from all walks of

life took part in this weekly ritual. Hammams

date back to the Ottoman Empire.

It was a place to witness the Sultans’

power and wealth. As such they

played a major role in Turkey’s culture

and history. According to,

they also served as meeting

places where people could relax and

socialize. Young, old, male and female

enjoyed the health benefits these steam

rooms provided. Hammams are distinguished

by its focus on steam, water

and massage.

Cleansing and Relaxation is your only

goal once you enter a hammam. What

makes hammams so appealing? It lies

within its extensive multi-step ritual of

detoxification. Starting with purification,

followed by exfoliation and cleans-

ing, ending with an oil massage. It’s no

wonder hammams are now trending

among Westerners.

When in France, a hammam to check

out is Zein Oreintal Spa. Having had

the pleasure of visiting two locations,

Nantes and Marseille, Zein does not

disappoint. You will find Zein in the Old

Port of Marseille, along the Mediterranean.

In Nantes, Zein is located in

The Lieu Unique, The National Center

for Contemporary Arts and Music. Both

locations are similar in décor and ambiance.

suit. Traditionally male and females never

have sessions together. However, you

will find most modern hammams accommodate

and have co-ed hours. You

will be provided with a robe and slippers.

The first stage of your treatment begins

with entering the hararet, a steam room

with plunge pool. Relax as the steam

Cleansing and

relaxation is your

only goal once you

enter a hammam.

begins to open up your pores. Perspiration

is key to rid the body of toxins.

Next, you will proceed to the cold shower

room. Black soap is provided along

with a kessa hammam exfoliating glove.

An attendant will scrub you down if you

The Lieu Unique is housed in a former

biscuit factory at the center of the city.

Getting to Zein will feel like an adventure

in itself as you walk through a mini

art museum coupled with some bookshops

with many young people singing

or dancing in the lobby. One might begin

to feel as if they are in the wrong

place, but not to worry as the French

merchants that run their shops in the

center are all too familiar with the face

of bewilderment from those seeking retreat

in Zein. You will be directed into

the basement. You will be pleasantly

surprised as you are now transported

into an underground exotic Moroccan

styled hammam.

Be prepared and bring your bathing

choose. This is an additional fee. After

your full body wash you will receive a

massage with the oil of your choosing.

Relax in the lounge room known as the

camekan with complimentary tea and

snacks. The best feature about hammams

is there are no time restrictions.

The typical cost for visiting a hammam

can range from $65 -$125 USD. Enjoy

experiencing the mystifying vibes of a

hammam while enjoying its health benefits.

By Elmeka Henderson

One of the most curious aspects of

Japanese culture is ritual visits to

hot springs (onsen) throughout

the length and breadth of the country.

Since 552 AD, the Japanese have been

getting naked and sharing a public bath

with their family, friends, and neighbors

to exchange the latest gossip, express

kinship and bond while soaking in a

bubbling, sulfur-scented pool.

To the foreign observer, of course, the

thought of lying naked and sharing a

bath (foro) with complete strangers can

be off putting. I know it was to me. But

once I learned about the history and ritual

of the onsen, it became surprisingly

more appealing.

There are estimated to be over 27,000

natural hot springs in the Land of the

Rising Sun and with 3,000 resorts, if a

person went to a different onsen every

week it would take them over 70 years

to visit them all.

Because of its ongoing volcanic activity,

onsens have been an integral part

of society for millennia. For example,

Dogo Onsen in Ehime Prefecture on the

island of Shikoku is said to be one of

the first recorded in Japanese history,

dating back over 3,000 years. The arrival

of Buddhism to Japan served to

popularize onsens even more, with the

bathing ritual of purification kept in accordance

with the religion’s principals.

Today, visiting an onsen has become

not only a local tradition, but also a

once-in-a-lifetime tourist experience

due to the exclusivity of the ritual and

restrictions to foreigners in some areas.

For example, traditionally the onsen refused

those with tattoos because they

wanted to avoid the hassle of the Yakuza.

Now, no one is going to actually refuse

the Yakuza to their face, but signs

were placed to try and deter their attendance.

However, this association has

become so engrained in Japanese culture,

that even foreigners with tattoos

are turned away (like myself).

There are options, though. Sento, which

are paid bathhouses, have private options

for those with ink and you can enjoy

the benefits of the onsen experience

without the communal nakedness. My

son prefers these after a recent expe-

ience where he was in a crowded bath

and no longer wishes to have someone’s

penis in his vicinity. His words,

not mine.

With the upcoming 2020 Olympics, the

Japanese government is encouraging

onsen owners to loosen their restrictions

on tattoos, but this is proving to

be a slow process. If you have a small

tattoo however, some places ask you to

bandage the area before permitting you

to enter. But if you have as many tattoos

as I do, you’ll end up looking like a

burn victim.

For a traditional experience, you can visit

many places around Japan. If you are

visiting Tokyo anytime soon, the Oedo

Onsen Monogatari is highly recommended.

This Edo-era onsen has natural

spring baths, open-air baths, saunas

and more. In North Tokyo, the Tokyo Somei

Onsen Sakura is best to visit during

cherry blossom season. The sakura are

not only a beautiful backdrop, but they

help mask the sulfur smell. If you wish

to travel around Japan, I would suggest

visiting Kusatsu Onsen in Gunma or the

Shibu Onsen in Nagano where you can

bathe with monkeys. How fun is that?

Whether it’s on your bucket list or it’s

something you stumble upon on your

next trip to Japan, the natural hot

springs are definitely something to experience.

There is even a tourist attraction

where you can bathe in wine, green

tea, coffee, or sake at the Yunessun Spa

Resort in Hakone. I guess bathing in

water is so 2000 and late.

By Danielle Washington

When my Uber driver dropped

me off in San Francisco’s gritty

Hunters Point neighborhood, I

swore I had the wrong address. However,

the huge “Archimedes” sign on the

building let me know that I had reached

my destination; the only Russian Banya

in Northern California.

A Banya is a Russian type of sauna or

bathhouse. Typically, there is a small

room with wooden benches with different

levels. The higher one goes, the hotter

it gets.

The hardest part

of the platza is not

the beating; it’s

surviving the heat

As part of the check-in process, the

front desk staff politely reminded me

that this was a clothing optional facility.

Then they set me free to strip down to

my own comfort level and enjoy a traditional

Russian pastime.

I opted for my birthday suit and a towel.

The last thing I expected was to

immediately crash into a room full of

butt booty naked men that looked like

they were reenacting a Michelangelo

painting. Some were sprawled out on

the edge of a small tub of still water

with their pudgy pink bodies and tiny

junk hanging freely while the others remained

partially immersed in the water.

Of course, the staff warned me that this

was a co-ed facility, which didn’t bother

me. However, I wasn’t prepared to walk

into a room full of naked men all starring

at the only woman in the room.

Instinctively, I wrapped my towel tighter

around my body and dashed into one

of the saunas to focus on preparing my

mind and body for my platza massage,

which I heard was a must at a Russian


A platza is where you lie down on the

uppermost bench in a sauna to get

(massaged) whacked by wet birch or

oak tree leaves. It’s said that the leaves

have healing powers reducing stress

and premature aging to name a few

benefits. I’m all for taping natural healing

powers, but a platza is not for the


The hardest part of the platza is not

the beating; it’s surviving the heat

during the process. I was seconds away

from calling it quits as my practitioner

into straight shock as I silently mouthed

a few curse words to myself.

whipped the leaves in the air, only making

the room feel ten times hotter. What

felt like 30 minutes of torture, in reality,

was only ten minutes of uncomfortableness.

I was then instructed to immediately

plunge my entire body, including my

hair, into an ice-cold pool. My body went

The feeling of going from crazy intense

heat to insanely cold water oddly felt

euphoric. As I climbed out of the pool,

I felt disoriented and my body began to

tingle as if every nerve had awakened

from a deep sleep. I was informed this

is the desired reaction, which seemed

weird, but at least I was having the appropriate


After my platza I needed to rest for a

bit. As I sat trying to get my bearings,

I thought about my experience. Who

knew getting beat by leaves would lead

to this feeling of utter relaxation? The

Russians did.

Dragon Hill Spa

Seoul, S. Korea

By Marsha Nelson

When I was a little girl, I remember

my Oma (Korean for Mom) making

me sit in the bath tub with

hot water while she either washed dishes

or watched Dallas, usually the latter.

The water would be so hot, I would have

to step in and out at least five times or

more before I could comfortably sit still

in the water. I was instructed to let her

know when my fingertips were ‘wrinkly.’

I would yell out from the bathtub that I

was ‘wrinkly’ and she would come up to

take off my “dde” (dead skin or as my

mom described it ‘dirt’).

She would slip on a red washcloth

known as an “Italy Towel” and scrub

with the strength of 2000 men. This

type of scrubbing is called ‘seshin’ and

is a common practice in Korean culture.

I had no idea my 5’0, 100lb Korean

mother was so damn strong. She

would scrub me so hard I felt the skin

and white meat remove from my bones.

I would cry from the pain and laugh

from the tickles. Her response to my

pain was always “Sit still and it won’t


As a child I thought everybody bathed

like this, but quickly learned how wrong

I was.

I was about 8-years old when I went to

my first Korean bathhouse. It was just

like my baths at home except with other

naked people. My family and I had

just moved to South Korea, my mother’s

birth place, and my oma quickly

dragged me along with her to the nearest

mogyogtang when we settled into

our new home.

Some people may know a Korean bathhouse

as a jjimjilbang. The jjimjilbang

is essentially the spa and relaxation

part of going to a Korean bathhouse.

It includes hot sauna, restaurants, resting/sleeping

area and is a common

area shared by both men and woman.

The mogyoktang is the bathing area

which is a completely different section

from the jjimjilbang and is separated

into male and female sections.

Personally, I’m a fan of the mogyoktang.

It’s the best kind of clean you can

ever feel once you get past being naked

in front of complete strangers, soaking

in a hot tub with naked strangers, and

being scrubbed down in every crevice

imaginable (they are very thorough) by

a Korean ajumma with hands of steel.

I guarantee they will all talk about you

and laugh at your pain, but once you

rinse the years of dde from your body

you will emerge a completely new person

and likely a shade or two lighter

than when you walked in the front door.

Your skin will glow and be smoother

than a baby’s bottom.

After a bath like that, you will feel as

though you’ve had the workout of your

life. That’s when you can head over to

the jjimjilbang and relax.

You’ve never experienced a clean body

until you’ve had a Korean scrubbing.

Liz is a Global Citizen, Educator

and Entrepreneur. As an

avid traveler she believes there

is an inner transformation that

occurs from travel. Liz has

traveled to countries in Central

America, South America,

The Caribbean, Europe and

Asia. She encourages others

to say adios, au revoir, arrivederci

to their comfort zone and

become that individual on the

go. Follow Journey with Liz on

Instagram, Facebook, Twitter.

Elmeka Henderson is a traveler

who is currently living in Japan.

She is the creative voice

behind Adventures in Raising a

Vagabond, a blog that offers a

first hand account of a mother

traveling with her quick-witted

boy across the globe. She is

also a huge fan of french fries.

Check out Elmeka’s blog at

Danielle Washington, the creator

of the Rogue Style Maven

blog, is on a mission to

inspire women to step outside

of their comfort zones

and discover the Rogue Maven


Follow Danielle at “Rouge

Style Maven” on Instagram,

Twitter & Facebook. Her website

can also be found at

Marsha Nelson, a 2016 Denver

Business Journal ’40 Under 40’

recipient, is a passionate leader

championing the development,

sustainability, and implementation

of programs to maximize

opportunities of small, minority

and women owned businesses in

the construction industry.

Her love of travel began at an early

age growing up as an ‘Army Brat’

allowing her to live in a number

of countries across Europe and

Asia. Her other passions include

family, community service, snowboarding,

baking and eating off

other people’s plates.


Black Travel Profiles

Richard is an experienced humanitarian

aid worker with degrees in criminology/sociology

and extensive involvement

in relief programs, non-profit

and fundraising. He has a keen interest

in working with organizations looking to

defend human rights around the world,

while advocating on the front lines to alleviate

the pain and suffering of children

in all corners of the globe.

Fluent in three languages (English,

French, Haitian Creole + basic Spanish),

His interest in humanitarian aid/disaster

relief started in the aftermath of Hurricane

Katrina in the Gulf Coast where he

volunteered in New-Orleans to help the

people rebuild their lives in sustainable

ways through both short-term and longterm

projects. He joined the UNICEF Tap

Project, advocating and fundraising to

improve access to safe water, provide

sanitation facilities in schools and communities

and to promote safe hygiene

practices combating deadly illnesses

In addition to his human rights work,

most specifically in pro-Bono/asylum

work, antisemitism and anti-trafficking,

his extensive travel around the world,has

equipped him with the all the tools necessary

to organize epic trips to Haiti,

Cuba and other destinations while also

having the chance to give back to these

communities. He’s currently working on

launching a website (www.haitiannomad.

com) which will hopefully be seen as a

rite of passage for anyone hoping to discover

the true Haiti through the eyes of

a local.


By Jamilah

The reflective voices of our teens,

Black, White, Muslim, Christian,

refugee, male and female fill the

area on the final debrief of the trip: “I’m

going to eat all my food, I used to waste

food, but I won’t anymore.” “Those three

year olds act better and have longer attention

spans than our classmates.” “I

feel… safer, more free, less stressed,

more welcome, more peaceful here…

than I do at home.” “Hard work with

purpose feels good.” No one was ready

to return, everyone wanted to stay just

a little bit longer.

We were a group of 11, three chaperones

and eight students, 9th through

12th grade traveling to Senegal over

Thanksgiving as a learning excursion

for My World, a global citizenship and

leadership program for teens based in

Atlanta, GA. For five of the teens, this

would be their first time leaving the

North American continent. Upon landing

in Dakar, getting our bags and meeting

Tijan our driver we arrived at our



accommodation for the next few days,

La Villa 126. We wanted our students

to see many different sides of Senegal

so that they could challenge the stereotypes

the media feeds us about Africa.

La Villa’s 5 star accommodations at 3

star prices did not disappoint.

Our first full day in country, students

met their pen pals of the Malika English

Club and that exchange turned out to

be the favorite part of the entire trip.

In our program, building relationships

across differences is a large part of our

efforts. We were greeted by a delegation

of the town’s Mayor, welcomed with the

singing of the Star Spangled Banner,

participated in a lively debate about democracy,

ate delicious Senegalese food

and danced around a bonfire. After visiting

their pals’ homes, our students

marveled at how happy everyone was

even though they materially have little.

Our second day started with a visit to

Goree Island facilitated by our guide

Ali of Andaando Tours. If you’re looking

to understand the roots of modern

day oppression, institutional racism,

self hate within the Black diaspora, destruction

of the Black family or simply

pay homage and say a prayer for the

ancestors, this is a powerful place to

start. Our students faced a mixed range

of emotions.

Seeing the nonchalant Europeans on the

ferry and tour felt disrespectful, filled

them with anger and left them wondering

why they were even there and should

they even be allowed there at all. For

one student it brought up painful memories

and heartache that were shared

by a relative who’s endured modern day

slavery. For our Gambian chaperone,

there was anger at how much the African

community doesn’t know and how

that ignorance affects how they think

about and deal with African Americans.

For our White student there was shame

and horror around her ancestor’s actions.

It was a heavy morning. What do

you do with all of that?

After sitting with that grief, moving

through the day and regrouping to debrief

that evening, students were encouraged

to channel their energy into

speaking up when they see a wrong

being done or something crazy being

said about a marginalized group, or

challenging their own thoughts of color

lines within the Black community or

raising awareness about present day is-

sues that are rooted in our economic

system of oppression.

They were happy

to have the

company and we

were happy to be

with them

We finished the day with sightseeing

and taking in a sunset over the beach

that is the westernmost point on the

African continent before heading to

the Pink Lake the next day. For about

$15 you can ride on a camel (half hour

round trip) over to the most beautiful

stretch of pristine beach you’ve probably

ever seen.

Over the next two days we had the honor

of helping the community of Keur

Simbara build a latrine facilitated by

Tostan. Working alongside the villagers

gave our young people such pride

in their work. We visited a preschool

class, taught teens to throw a frisbee,

took goofy photos of the little kids and

played a game of soccer. It was like

hanging out with your extended family

all day. They were happy to have the

company and we were happy to be with

them as their joy and love for life is

something we sadly don’t often see.

On our final day we followed up our

manual labor with art and relaxation at

Sobo Bade in Toubab Dialaw. Students

took a djembe drumming class, learned

the technique of batik, swung in the

hammocks and played with the kids on

the beach. As we sat and reflected on

our week, the statements that opened

this article were a few that spilled out.

I knew then that for at least ten people

on the planet, many stereotypes had

been broken, consciousness had been

sparked and perspectives would never

be the same. And we hope to do it all

over again next year with a new group

of future leaders.

In addition to developing leadership

skills, My World provides scholarships

so that participants can afford their

trip. Five of the eight students on this

year’s trip were able to go only with the

help of our generous donors. We hope

to provide twice that number of scholarships

next year. Our Give the Gift of

Travel Campaign is open through the

New Year. If you would like to help us

continue changing the lives of young

people please visit us online.

Jamilah Rashid is the

Founding Director of My

World. Originally from

Virginia, she currently

lives in Atlanta, GA with

her husband and children

and is a graduate of

Howard and Clemson





told myself that I wasn’t going back

to Dubai. I have been there several

times before passing through

on my way to South Africa and other

countries. October 2014 was my

first journey to Dubai, United Arab

Emirates. I ended up there on a brief

layover on my way to Johannesburg.

On my way back from South Africa, I

stopped in Dubai with a few friends

for Halloween weekend. Unbeknown

to me, this was the beginning of

what we are now calling the Dubai

Blackout. That weekend in 2014

was full of great fun, laughter and

exposure to the Middle East, which

was a place that never surfaced on

my radar. Fast forward to Christmas

Day 2014, Etihad dropped one

of the biggest flight deal glitches

known to man: tickets to Abu Dhabi

for as low as $177 roundtrip. This

deal erupted all over the internet

and a few friends agreed to go on

Halloween weekend. Approximately

80 of my closest friends ended

up in Dubai and Abu Dhabi for Halloween

in 2015.

After the culmination of the 2015 trip,

the energy was high. People wanted to

know if we could go back. I put together

a Facebook group with general information

even stating I would not organize it

(ha!) but I would assist in anyway that

I could. In December, Emirates Airlines

released their family and friends deal

and I ended up buying 16 plane tickets.

This jumpstarted others until we

had over 200 people buy tickets for this

trip. Although I am not a travel agent

by trade, I have enough skills to plan a

trip for a group, as I’ve done this a few


This Halloween 2016 was more than

spectacular. We ended up with over 250

individuals, mostly African American,

that traveled to Dubai for what I coined

as the Dubai Blackout. What was special

about this trip was it was filled with

a lot of people who made this their

first international trip. Dubai is far....extremely

far, and some of our first tim-

ers traveled 17 hours ONE WAY just to

get to Dubai. That in itself is an amazing

accomplishment. We had all age ranges

from 20s even to the 80s represented

and all types of professions such as students,

administrators, engineers, doctors/nurses

and entrepreneurs among

other things like retired! I put together

a schedule of activities such as the Saffron

Brunch at the Atlantis Hotel, Desert

Safari complete with sand boarding and

sand duning, Mountain Safari, a day trip

to Abu Dhabi to visit the museums and

the famous Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

and a yacht cruise planned by Ms. Lynzi

Taylor from Abu Dhabi.

One special note for this trip is this was

one of the first trips that I was going to

bring my brother Tony. I have traveled

all over the world and my oldest brother

Tony said he was going to Dubai with me

the next time I go. He and his wife Lakisha

obtained tickets to Dubai. My brother

did not have a passport yet, but he

said he would get one and he worked towards

that goal. Tony and I talked about

this trip daily. He’d talk about how we

were going to recreate the Jodeci videos

on the sand dunes. He even assembled a

group of men going and they were working

out who would sing the parts!

On February 18th, 2016 my brother unexpectedly

passed away in his sleep at the

age of 41. As a sister, I was beyond devastated

but in my family, we are taught

that you have to keep pressing on. I ended

up taking two months off work and

traveled around the world but I took my

brother’s tie with me so he could travel in

the afterlife. My cousin Shyronica Small,

Tony’s wife Lakisha and I took the tie to

Dubai with us. He was there in spirit!

At the end of the trip, friendships and

relationships were formed, invites to holiday

dinners were planned and future

trips with new friends were made. A lot

of barriers were broken during the trip,

tears released past pain and a lot of people

manifested their destiny. Some people

conquered their fears of flying and

others were able to come out of an anti-social

shell to be appreciated and loved

on by over 250 queens and kings on the

sands of time. #DubaiBlackout made us

family and our memories are forever emblazoned

in our hearts.

I am looking forward to our Dubai Blackout


Kenna Williams is World Traveler. She hails

from Oxnard, CA by way of Memphis, TN.

She is a 40 year old professional woman

working as an Aerospace Engineer in the

Defense industry and she is the creator of

the famous hashtag #BookDatIsht which

simply means to book flights immediately

without questioning anything! She is also

known as the Nomadness Tribe Cheerleader

since 2012




Marcus White

According to the blog, “The German

Way,” a guide to German

culture and daily life in German:

“the history of Christmas markets goes

back to the late Middle Ages in the

German-speaking part of Europe and

in many parts of the former Holy Roman

Empire that includes many eastern

regions of France and Switzerland.

Many historians consider Dresden to

have one of the strongest claims to the

first genuine Christmas market. The

Striezelmarkt in Dresden dates back to

1434. It is one of the oldest and most

authentic Christmas fairs in Germany.”

Of course I went to Germany seeking

Christmas markets not knowing any of


As a first timer to Köln (Cologne), I

didn’t know what to expect. I chose not

to read about the Christmas markets

beforehand so that I could be surprised.

I was not disappointed. The experience

of coming off the tram and seeing all

the Christmas lights and an open-air

market was quite different to my experiences

in the United States. First off, the

market was decorated over the top with

Christmas bling (lights, ornaments and

music), but the smell of savory wursts

cooking on the grills hit me at once. It

was the family BBQ meets Rockefeller

Center and I couldn’t wait.

Fortunately, it was also cold as hell. So

the first thing I tried was mulled wine

called Glühwein mit Schuss. Glühwein

Go for the

experience, but

definitely stay for

the food.

is a quintessential German Christmas

beverage that consists of hot mulled

red or white wine, with an optional

shot of brandy. So you know I drank

the hot wine with brandy, I’m just saying!

A brotha was trying to keep warm.

Glühwein is served in ceramic mugs designed

specifically for each local Christmas

Market. While the designs are different,

the mugs usually depict either

the respective historic city centers or

the Christmas market. One thing I was

told was that when purchasing Glühwein,

you pay a deposit in addition to

the price of the beverage. You can then

either return the mug once finished to

get your deposit back or keep it as a

nice souvenir.

You can also extend your tourist activities

by choosing markets that are near

major attractions. For example, the Harbour

Christmas Market was right outside

of the Lindst Chocolate Museum.

So when you feel like getting warm, a

tour of the museum or even more food

is just step away. Between the museums

and the market, I enjoyed myself by going

into the different booths, trying on

hats and learning about German crafts.

From specialized chocolate to felted

slippers, they had just about everything

you could imagine giving your mother

for Christmas. I purchased several gifts

for family, but must admit that the real

draw of these markets is the food.

If you plan to visit any of Cologne’s

Christmas Markets in Germany, I suggest

you try the Currywurst or Germknödels

a steamed doughy sweet

dumpling with custard and cherries.

Kartoffelpuffer, which are potato pancakes

with applesauce, are also worth

a try, but if you have room left in your

belly then gorge on Belgium waffles

built like sundaes and everything will

be right in the world. The markets are a

real foodie haven and you can get a nice

sample of German food without having

to purchase an entire meal. So go for

the experience, but definitely stay for

the food.

Marcus White is a lover of all

things food and fun and he’s

made it his mission to squeeze

every hour out of every personal

day and holiday he has. As

a corporate junkie and weekend

warrior he still manages to

get around and has visited 11

countries this year alone.



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