HOT in London!

One of the hottest days in London during my stay was Sunday, June 26th. Days before the main topic of conversation was the temperature — a whopping 28 degrees Celsius. Being a lover of nature, I was eager to visit grass and trees that day so we walked to Hampstead Heath Park from Camden Market What a BEAUTIFUL DAY!!

Noticed this guy outside the park - RELAX!!

Giraffe Restaurant - Smiling is infectious 🙂

Love - Eat - Live

And many thanks to Fola and Joel for great conversation and laughter. Happy Sunday!

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La La London!

Where to begin. Nearly twelve years ago, there were two cities on the re-location table: New York or London. My ex-dude and I decided we wanted more than what Philly had to offer and longed to try our luck in another part of the world. We booked a one week trip to London to get the feel of it. And, although the weather basically sucked, we had the most splendid of times, met the coolest people, danced in the best underground joints, yet made the decision to stay in the states since my father was ill at the time plus NYC was screaming loud and clear: Come here now!!!

Since then, I have visited the City of London 3 or 4 times. The last time being in the past two weeks. I had an amazing trip from start to finish! I also extended my stay by four days because my brother (Grey Reverend) had 2 shows nearby; I joined him for the one in Brighton.

Here are images from the first few days. I will share these in 3 or 4 blog posts because I’m photo-happy 🙂

Dalston, London - empty location of farmer's market

the Underground Tube

two guys at Ali Baba Turkish Takeaway - Dalston

stay tuned for artist's name

stay tuned for artist's name too

a view from a double decker bus

more art

Wahaca mexican restaruant in Soho

Wahaca mexican restaurant in Soho too

Afropolitan at the V&A - this model was ON every minute

music on Portobello Road

Dele Sosimi Afrobeat Jazz - incredible!

Dele Sosimi himself (i believe)

Mau Mau Bar - jazz re:freshed is the name of the night

A SUPER MEGA HUGE thank you to my hostesses, Stephanie B. and Elsa M! If they were any sweeter, I would have given them a kidney. And a quick shoutout to my very special, amazingly talented, inspiring, and generous friends, Fola, Alex, Angela, and Sam.

More photos to come, stay tuned!!

Cheers
*Lala*

Cuba: an interview with Kendra, a solar-powered dancer

Hola! October is almost here but the sun is still shining 🙂 I met this lovely woman at my buddy, Shane’s, Birthday BBQ a few weeks ago.  That afternoon, we talked at length about our travel experiences. I asked her to share some details from her most recent stay in Cuba with us!
Where were you born and where do you live now?
I was born in Detroit, MI and now I live in Brooklyn, NY

Are you under 30 years of age or older?

No, 25

When did you first leave your country and describe that experience?
Well, Detroit is 10 min from Canada, and my parents used to travel there often to shop (when the USD was double the Canadian dollar) but I don’t really count that.

I really left when I was 12 years old going to Cuba.  I went with my dance teacher whom I had been studying Afro-Cuban dance with for a year and a half.  It was amazing.  I remember everything being so beautiful to me.  It was my first time in the Caribbean and I was fascinated by all the bright colors.  The houses were yellow, pink, turquoise.  The cars were old, like I had seen in history books and just as colorful.  And the people exuded as much brilliance and color as the atmosphere.  They were warm and welcoming, but still full of fire.  I had my first kiss there in Cuba!

Do you have any fears? If so, please describe.
I have fear of failure.  I come from a community of unfulfilled dreams.  This is not necessarily a bad thing, because me and my personality were developed as a result.  However, I never want to have to say, I once wanted to do _____ and not be able to do it.

Although things have not been as expedient as I would have liked, I have been pretty good at accomplishing the things I have wanted to do. Dance and Travel have been the top two, and 2010 has been fruitful for both!

How do you spend most of your days? Working? Studying? Etc?
I spend my days either working like crazy or having nothing to do.  That’s been a semi-personal choice and I enjoy it sometimes.  I am in the nothing to do phase and I wish I was working more.  When I am in one state I always seem to crave the other.

How was your last trip funded?
By myself.  I work as a teaching artist and I worked my ass off last school year to pay for my trip and be able to not work for the summer.  I am also blessed by God and the financial angel that when I need it, it always comes from somewhere and right on time

Why do you travel? What do you enjoy most about it?
I mostly travel to dance.  I love dance, and I am committed to learning as much about dance as possible.  I may travel for other reasons superficial, but I’m always looking for dance where ever I go.

But along with dance I love to learn about other ways of life.  Art and culture and reflections of each other, and if you can engage someone through art, specifically dance for me, I can often get them to open up about culture and the reality of how they live.

So I enjoy seeing the beautiful works of nature and culture in the places I go and exploring how people really live; in my mind, I always juxtapose it to how I live in the US.

How many languages do you speak? or do you plan to speak?
Now I speak english and pretty good spanish, not quite fluent, but getting there.  I want to learn portuguese and possibly french and creole.

List 5 things you MUST bring with you when you travel.

1. Book to write in (even if I don’t use it)
2. A nice dress
3. Money
4. Open mind, eyes, and heart
5. Bug repellent

What is your earliest memory of traveling?
Driving to Florida from Detroit, MI in my Dad’s black Explorer. It was a 17 hours drive and I slept 11 hours.  I went to visit my grandmother who is one of the lights of my life, so I was excited.  I spent the time laughing and joking with her, shopping, and bowling with my family. Heaven for a 9 year old.

Tell me about your last trip. Where did you go, how long did you stay and what was the purpose of your trip?
I went to Cuba.  I stayed 38 days total, I was in Havana for 1 day, Mantanzas 1 day, Traveled by bus for 1 day, then stayed 28 days in Santiago de Cuba, and 7 more days in Havana.  I went to Cuba to study dance.
During this trip, tell us about your most memorable conversation and with whom?
I had a conversation with a woman and her daughter whom I had met a bar with live music the night before.  Funny story, I had in mind that this woman was a jinetera, Cubans who seek out tourists to hang out with while the tourist is in town with hopes the tourist would take them out to restaurants and buy them things.  I was supposed to meet the woman in a plaza, but decided I didn’t want to meet her to I went to a store a few blocks away to try to avoid the area we were to meet.  And  ran smack dab into her! Destiny.

Anyway, to my surprise, I ended up having a conversation about life in Cuba and the health care system.  She is a dance teacher just like me, and she was describing how on her salary, it is impossible to care for her two daughters (without help of their father, also one who had chronic asthma) so she had to do hair and nails, and sell knick knacks, and other hussles to survive.  We talked about the inaccessibility of medicines in the free clinic and how people had to pay a whole month’s salary for medicine in the international clinic.  We talked about the lack of means to show any dissent to the government policies and what was happening in the country.  We tried to explain to her the concept of health insurance and how for the poor in the US, out situation was not much different from those of Cubans, and in some cases worse.  I ended up buying her sodas and chips and went along my way with a wealth of new information.
What did you learn during this last experience or stay?
I kind of answered this question in the previous question, but in summary, I learned about Cuban dance and historical culture, which I already knew something about, but I newly learned about the reality about life in Cuba.  In the program I attended, I got to see the hospitality and good side of Cuban life.  But staying longer and really sitting down to have conversations with people, I learned about how it is to really live there.  I got the good and the bad.  I went to people’s homes, with 5 or 6 people living in house with 4 small rooms.  I visited a home with more space but with a dirt floor and roosters running through the house (but still had the latest jams bumping from the dvd player and tv).  I used to wish I was Cuban.  I now appreciate being American a bit more, but still have gained a desire to learn even more about Cuban culture.
Would you return? and why?
YES! I am trying to figure out how and when I can return now.  I need to learn more.  I want to take more dance classes and possibly do my own (or maybe through a university one day) anthropological studies of Cuba.

What and/or who inspires you?
I am inspired by women who can do many things but find the balance between work, friends, and play. I am also inspired by beautiful, soul filled music.

How would you describe your relationship with the sun.
I say that I am solar powered.  I love the sun! It’s color and how it illuminates the world.  Although it is very bright early in the morning, I hate to wear sunglasses it creates a barrier between me and being able to experience the sun and the true colors of the world. The sun gives me energy, and just like it comes everyday, reminds me to rise and go experience the world.

When the sun is not out I always feel completely drained and often a bit sad.

Are you happy?
SO happy!  I am alive and just got back from an amazing, inspiring journey, and feel better after having step throat for 2 weeks, I’m elated. But mostly I am happy because life is good and I choose to be happy.

Kendra is a Dancer, Teaching Artist, and Choreographer
Her email signature reads: Dance, Live, Love, Feel!!

I’ll post a few pics from Le Fooding in the eat or be eaten section later this week.

Until then, Be Happy!

*Lala*

St. John: skinny dipping in the dark of night (interview w/ Erica)

Happy Tuesday to You! My weekend was pretty low key yet productive. I am growing busier by the day – which I love considering I had the longest vacation ever last year. I’ll write later in the week but in the meantime, check out an interview with another great friend and world traveler, Erica. I met Erica at her neighborhood boutique, Addy & Ferro years ago. She is a lovely person who is ambitious, focused, and adventurous! Thanks Erica for sharing your experience in St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands.

Where were you born and where do you live now?
I was born in Harlem, NYC and now live in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn

Are you under 30 years of age or older?
older

When did you first leave your country and describe that experience?
i was young, maybe 9, so i don’t remember exactly, but it was probably a family road trip to Montreal. I remember getting spending money from my dad and having to exchange it for Canadian money and how different the money looked. I also remember us stopping at the boarder answering travel/nationality questions driving there and back.

Do you have any fears? If so, please describe.
there are things in life that i worry about, but i don’t have any fears that i can think of.

How do you spend most of your days? Working? Studying? Etc?
good question… i’m not on a schedule right now, so each day is different, most days are pretty leisurely

How was the trip funded?
i used points for the airfare, camping was inexpensive ($12.65 a night), i also did a one week work/exchange at the campground and stayed with friends.

Why do you travel? What do you enjoy most about it?
i love exploring new places, taking in natural beauty and seeing how people live life in other parts of the world. i always feel like part of me grows when i travel. i enjoy having new experiences and learning something new outside of my everyday world.

List 3 of your favorite travel destinations and why?
little corn island, Nicaragua, st. john, u.s.v.i., – i love nature, tropical places and the beach

morocco – going to the sahara desert was amazing, the food, markets, people, culture, riads

How many languages do you speak? or do you plan to speak?
i only speak english, would love to learn another language one day

List the your 5 things you bring with you when you travel.
passport, camera, a book, i-pod, sleep mask

What is your least favorite aspect of travel?
probably flying and being around “tourists” versus other travelers

What is your earliest memory of traveling?
road trips driving from harlem to either atlanta, ga to visit family or florida for my mother’s annual tupperware conventions.

Tell me about your last trip in a warm place? Where did you go, how long did you stay and what was the purpose of your trip?
st. john u.s.v.i. to celebrate my 40th birthday with friends, stayed for 12 days in an eco-tent on a campground on the beach, it was beautiful

During this trip, what was your most memorable conversation and with whom?
i had a few good conversations with friends, but had a moment skinny dipping solo in the dark of night when i felt like i was conversing with the universe and getting guidance and love from my ancestors. it was pretty moving.

Would you return? If so, where would you go or see?
definitely! beaches: trunk by, cinnamon bay, peter’s bay

What was your favorite meal and where did you eat it or who prepared it in St John?
my favorite meal was Lobster at Sheila’s Pot a Caribbean food stand in Cruz Bay ($15 and there was enough for three meals), and Scallops at Sweet Plantain’s a Caribbean food restaurant in Coral Bay. The food was delicious!

Do you have any other trips planned for the year?
michigan womyn’s music festival

What or who motivates you to keep living and thriving? What inspires you?
love from family and friends motivates me, i’m inspiried by future possibilities of happiness

Please identify the most important aspects about being alive, in your opinion.
love, family, friends, learning, growing, experiencing, happiness

What is your relationship to the sun? and earth?
i’m fueled by the sun, i love laying in it and taking in its energy, i enjoying being close to the earth by camping and sleeping on the ground or being barefoot.

Are you happy?
i am happy more often than not

Thailand: the planet is my family (Dar Riser interview)

Greetings!
To follow is an interview with Dar Riser, a mega-dear friend, collaborator, kindred spirit, and fellow Sunchaser. He is a multi-faceted individual who is larger than a galaxy and smarter than two dozen whips in a S&M store. I am grateful for his friendship and I hope you’re inspired by his words and experiences from his latest month-long journey in Thailand. He is also a budding photographer and has graciously shared a few images too.
Where were you born and where do you live now?

I was born in Culver City California, and I currently live in Brooklyn, New York, though my heart and soul live in many places.
Are you under 30 years of age or older?

Yes. I have more than 30 years.

Do you have any fears? If so, please describe.

Yes. Undertows, and at times the unknown. And fears. I do my best to stay aware that most “fears” are created in our minds and are thus no more real than many of the things that we think we know, only to learn that we were creating the worst case scenarios in our minds. Using my mental energy to create best case scenarios, supported by my efforts that will move my life in those directions has worked best in maintaining freedom from fear.

How do you spend most of your days? Working? Studying? Etc?

The activities of my days vary. Some days I work. Some I play. Ride a bike. Some I enjoy learning a language, a skill, a lesson, or something about myself, and the world in which I live, and exist. Most days I do all of those things.

How was the trip funded?

By resources that where earned through creative efforts and activities. I freelance my way on every trip that I have taken.

Why do you travel? What do you enjoy most about it?

I travel because the planet is my family and going into the world, getting to know the space and time into which I was born fulfills my life experience. What I enjoy most about traveling is growth. I know that each trip I take grows me in ways and dimensions that I may not always be aware of though always leave me feeling that I am more connected to my own experience, and emotions, and feelings, and thoughts… And more open to have real communication with the world around me. I become a better human being through travel. My desire and ability to love and feel love grows, as I let go of things and ways of being that act as barriers to connection, real honest, open, judgment free connection.

How do you prepare to travel? What do you do about communicating in other countries?

I try to learn as much of the language that I can before I arrive, so that I can communicate, in the native tongue as much as possible. I have found that making the effort to communicate in the language is spoken in a country, opens up my experience, reveals aspects about the culture that may have not been experienced otherwise, and it’s just more fun to let go of what I think I know and learn. Trying to communicate in a language that I do not speak is humbling, and exciting… As long as I am open to learn. I generally learn more than “thank you” and “where is the bathroom”.


How many languages do you speak?

Hmm. I speak 6 languages at various levels. Some more than others. Some ‘better’ than other, if you prefer.
English, Portuguese, Spanish, a little French, a little Italian, and a little Thai (nit noi).

List 5 things you bring with you when you travel.

A Hiking Back Pack
Passport
Ipod (to continue learning the language of whatever place that I am visiting)
Camera
Minimal Clothing


What is your least favorite aspect of travel? When did you first leave your country and describe that experience?

My least favorite aspect of travel is having to ask some outside entity/government to grant me permission to travel from one country to another; and paying for that “right”. My first time leaving the the country in which I was born, the United States, was when I was 5 years old. My mother packed up the four boys, or it might have been three at the time, and we went to Jamaica to float around with various friends and extended family. Bob Marley, Jimmie Cliff. Trenchtown. Hope Road. And lot’s of other things and places that I do not remember.

What is your earliest memory of traveling?

Taking a road trip with all of my brother and my mother. Though I am sure that it was not a road trip per se. Probably more of a Moms on a mission trip and the four little protectors going with for the adventure. We had lot’s of family adventures, meeting many interesting characters along the way.

Tell me about your last trip? Where did you go, how long did you stay and what
was the purpose of your trip?

My last trip was to Thailand. I went to Bangkok, and Chiangmai. I stayed in Bangkok for 3 or 4 days and then flew up to Chiangmai. The purpose of my trip was to get closer to who I am as a person, and to the experiences and choices that reflect a life that is joyful, in my eyes. I went for growth.

During this trip, what was your most memorable conversation and with whom?

I would have to say that my most memorable conversation was not even spoken. It was communicated on an energetic level with some that I met in Chiangmai, Reenie. I had many memorable conversations with the community of people who have traveled from many places and found themselves in the “vortex” of Chiangmai. These people were some of the most open, loving, and human human-beings that I have met. One conversation that I do not remember was with a philosopher, from Peru, who had been in Chiangmai or 20 years. After and during I felt that I was in the presence of a side of humanity that I hope to keep moving forward towards, and a side that I hope to continue seeing here within me. We are all whole, when we remember to be.


Would you return? If so, where would you go or see?

Yes! I would go to Chiangmai, because I may have to pick up a travel companion, and then I would head to the islands…

Do you have any other trips planned for the year?

Yes.

Are you romantically attached? Do you have a family to feed?

Hmm, romantically attached? No. I am connected, yes. Attachment is not something I am interested in. Freedom and connection are far more appealing and rewarding on every level. And no, no families to feed.

What or who motivates you to keep living and thriving? What inspires you?

My mother. And each open and connected human being that I meet. Life inspires me, and that’s a long answer, yet a short one. It exists everywhere, and anywhere… My inspiration, and life.

Please identify the most important aspects about being alive, in your opinion.

Joy. Health. Connection.


What is your relationship to the sun? and earth?

I am a solar powered human being! The earth is my home, and I have a great deal of gratitude for being a part of the planet on which I live. We are connected, parts of the whole.

Are you happy?
Yes I am, and thanks for asking!

________________________

Thanks Dar!! Enjoy the week beautiful people!

*Lala*


go where the love is

Happy Earth Day!

What is love?

It is one of those meaningful questions that is sure to stir up feelings. It is the reason why most of us are here. I haven’t been able to write for days now because I have been in a love haze of sorts. However, this morning I was reflecting back to last Saturday when I felt a surge of love and I wanted to share it with you. After a breakfast of french toast and turkey sausage, I walked my friend to the train station and as we said our goodbyes, she smiled and said: I am so happy to have had such a large dose of Lala this weekend (well, she used my real name but anyway). I remember holding back my tears; I didn’t wish to cause a scene. As soon as I entered the doors of my apartment building, I began to cry. I was so overwhelmed by her words and generosity that day. Thank you Mitsue for being a wonderful friend.

Today I feel good, stronger than I’ve been in awhile. But yesterday was a different story so I’ll tell you what I did. An hour before the rain had fallen, I knelt down and dug deep into the earth then planted tomatoes, carrots, sage, and 3 different flowers in my brother and his girlfriend’s garden.  Nature is a cure-all for me and when I am in need of some natural loving, I seek out grass, branches, the moon, or sand for re-assurance that love is abundant and everything is perfectly magnificent.

Where I planted the tomatoes and carrots

If you are in a place that is draining the love out of you, then go where the love is. If you are not getting enough love in your life, then go for a walk, call someone and tell them you love them, sit under a tree, pay a compliment to a complete stranger, or volunteer to help someone in need. And If that doesn’t work, buy a train or plane ticket!

Speaking of plane tickets, I feel an adventure coming on, especially since the FAA has resumed flights throughout Europe. In my next post, I will include an interview with a fellow Sunchaser and superstar, Dar Riser, about his latest trip to Thailand. I haven’t been there yet but I am definitely going soon. Here is a photo of his new signature dish, mango sticky rice – delici-o-cious!

Enjoy your weekend and get some sunshine!

and eat something green today – how about some AVOCADO 🙂

hummus avocado wrap courtesy of Mr. Holt

Are you feeling loved today? I hope so because WE ARE LOVE!

*Lala*

Barbados: a little sand for your snow

Happy Snow Day ! When a friend, Tra, mentioned that he had been to Barbados recently, I asked him to share a little about himself and his trip:

Tra in Barbados 2010

What does your name mean? Tra?

My entire name, Tra Ari Meter, means “one who must follow truth”.

Where were you born and where do you live now?

I was born at home in Brooklyn (don’t remember which part), grew up in
Bedstuy and currently live in Crown Heights
.

Are you under 28 years of age or older?
Sure am.

When did you first leave your country and describe that experience?
First trip outside the country was to the Bahamas on a cruise. It was my
high school senior trip. Most of the experience took place on the ship. I
only remember visiting the beach for a short while. Until I finally left the
country “for real” I would still say that I had never been abroad. Cruises
kind of don’t count.

Do you have any fears? If so, please describe.
I fear not being there for my daughter in her greatest moment of need. Just
don’t ever want to let her down.

How do you spend most of your days? Working? Studying? Etc?
I spend most of my days working, planning and studying. To what degree of
diligence you may ask: That’s a different story. Think I spend an inordinate
amount of time just thinking. I’m a forward thinker. I think a lot about
what can become of the future. I’d rather be a forward doer.

Tell me about your last trip? Where did you go, how did you stay and what
was the purpose of your trip?

I went to Barbados with my lady. She planned to go with a friend to vacation
there. I used the excuse that I wanted to celebrate her birthday with her so
I could tag along. Her brother has a condo so we stayed there. The trip
lacked purpose. We napped on a different beach every day, drank lots of rum
and guinness foreign extra, slept in until noon. The end.

Barbados 2010

How was the trip funded?
Cash money.

Which part of Barbados did you stay? I think it is a small island but I understand that there are parishes.

Flew into Bridgetown. Stayed in Christ Church.

Are there any tours, restaurants, places you would recommend for anyone going to Barbados?

There’s a fish fry held on Fridays that’s a good place to get grub (Don’t remember the name of the area). Can’t say I was too impressed by the general cuisine. But if you like fish and macaroni pie this is the place for you.I didn’t do any tours. St. Lawrence Gap is a good place to go if you’re into the club scene. What I can recommend are the beaches. Miami and Accra are two names that I remember. They were fantastic.

What is your least favorite aspect of travel?
It used to be flying. I’m getting used to that, though. A limitless budget
would ease some of the angst. Looking forward to that.

What was your most memorable conversation and with whom?
The most recent time I talked about my daughter I guess. I was telling my
girlfriend how she told me she missed me the last time I saw her.

Would you return? If so, where would you go or see?
Would absolutely return. I would go to more beaches and maybe spend some
time in Bridgetown.

Why do you travel?
I don’t do it often. It used to seem like such a waste of money to me. I
felt that if for whatever reason I should forget a trip it would be just
like it never happened, and there would be money spent that couldn’t be
accounted for.  Now, I just look at it as having some fun, taking advantage
of what life has to offer. I would really like to travel more for the
purpose of learning another language.

What will be your next trip?
I don’t know. I’ll be in Canada in a couple of weeks, but soon that won’t
count as going away. Maybe Jamaica. Definitely have to get to Paris. I plan
on living there at some point.

Are you romantically attached? Do you have a family to feed?
That’s why I’ll be in Canada. Have a little girl to think off, sure.

Tra and his lady in Barbados 2010

What or who motivates you to keep living?
Dreams, aspirations and Solana. I’d hate to miss my daughter growing up. She motivates me to keep living. And so does the dream of enlarging my family with more beautiful kids like her.

Please identify the most important aspects about living, in your opinion.
Being a blessing to those around you. Enjoying life in spite of all that may
work against your joyous ambitions.

Are you happy?
Considering all that can be negatively impactful in life I think that if you
remain net positive you are happy. The good must outweigh the bad. Should
you have the opportunity to actively foster good in your life you must
foster it to a greater extent than bad can become a meaningful force against
you. I am definitely happy then.

Barbados 2010

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