Monday, March 28, 2016

50 Countries and Counting: A Naturalista’s Travel Adventures in Panama (Including The San Blas Islands) Nicaragua, Belize, Honduras, Costa Rica and Guatemala!

Traveling to Central America opened my world in so many ways,
in terms of uniquelydiverse, beautiful people and interesting cultures.
I learned so much and had excellent opportunities to practice my
Spanish language skills. I only have one place left to visit
there, which is El Salvador. Below are my thoughts, in brief,
about these lovely places with encouragement that you
experience them all.
My first visit to Panama was on a vacation with my husband.
This was a fantastic experience!We stayed at the hotel owned by
 the now infamous political candidate called the Trump
Ocean Club Hotel and Tower. Politics aside, as this was well
before he was a candidate,his hotel in Panama is fabulous!
I most enjoyed the infinity pool, which is fantastic! We also
enjoyed the sites of Panama through an excellent city tour
including Casco Viejo, a vibrant and colorful neighborhood with
the hottest nightlife, and Panama Viejo. We also thoroughly
enjoyed a visit to the Panama Canal Miraflores Locks, which
is not to be missed. Panama City is very vibrant and based on
its architecture, which includes many high-rise condos,
it reminds me quite a bit of current day Miami. The food is
delicious, the people are friendly and there are wonderful
handcrafted items to buy, made by the various groups of
indigenous people. Panama is an excellent place to visit.
The San Blas Islands—My Homestay With The Guna (Kuna) People
To see info. on The SanBlas Islands (great pictures of the Guna (Kuna
people and my stay with them), Nicaragua, Belize, Honduras, Costa
Rica and Guatemala, which is wonderful and the travel tips
visit:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/patti-r-rose/50-

Thursday, March 10, 2016

50 Countries and Counting: A Naturalista's Travel Adventures in The United Kingdom, The Netherlands and Spain!

The United Kingdom (UK)
On one of my recent birthdays, my husband and I decided to travel to the U.K. , specifically to London. I had been there before, on my way to Kenya for a health conference, but not with him, so we were both very excited. There was so much to see that we weren't sure where to begin, so we started with the main event, from my perspective. The British Museum had a special Egyptian exhibit, of which they were displaying their ongoing collection of Egyptian artifacts, and the Papyrus of Ani (Book of the Dead), the special exhibit. That exceeded my expectations! I had been to Egypt, but the British Museum also has the Rosetta Stone. We stared at it for a considerable period of time, with fascination. This was the stone, which led to the translation of Hieroglyphics, the written language of the ancient Egyptians.
We also visited the Tower of London where we saw the crown jewels and learned some very interesting history. Big Ben and Parliament were a must and a Hop-On, Hop-Off bus tour ensured that we covered all of the other important sites of London. Of course, there was eating of fish and chips and visiting pubs to enjoy pints and other libations. Another highlight was the experience of High Tea at Fortnum and Mason, one of the premier department stores in London. However, we saved our shopping for Harrods and outdoor markets. Harrods was exciting and the outdoor markets were eclectic!
In a nutshell, we enjoyed strolling, visiting parks and gardens and drinking and being merry in London. It's definitely a place that I recommend for an interesting city experience with a good vibe. There is lots to do and see in London and if you go in the Spring, as we did, bring your coat, boots, scarves and gloves as it was cold indeed!
The Netherlands
Amsterdam and The Hague
When I think of our trip to Amsterdam, what comes to mind first is a laid-back atmosphere--essentially a true chill spot. We went there with our children, who were quite young, and ready for an adventure. We enjoyed a canal cruise, walking, eating, cafes and visits to museums including the Anne Frank Museum. Thinking of that museum always reminds me of an interesting story. Our daughter was in elementary school, and one of a few Black children in her class, a few years after our trip there. Her teacher was discussing Ann Frank in class and my daughter raised her hand and explained that she had been in her house and began to share all she knew about her. Her teacher called me the next day, asking for a chat. When I arrived, I encountered a middle-aged white woman, who I had met briefly on the first day of the school year for my daughter. At the meeting she requested, the Teacher advised that she was concerned about my daughter, insinuating that perhaps she was delusional as she had expressed that she had been in Anne Frank's house. I summarily explained that she had as my daughter had traveled with us on a trip to Europe, including Amsterdam, where she visited Anne Frank's house (hiding place), now a museum, which included a narrative about her life. The Teacher offered her apologies, seemingly surprised at this you black child's travels, as she had not been to Europe herself. In any event, visiting Anne Frank's hiding place, now a formidable museum was a cherished memory. I too, as a child, had been fascinated with Anne Frank, after reading her published diary in school.
We also took our children to The Hague where we visited the Scheveningen District. There is where we experienced the amazing place called Madurodam, which is a park with replications of historical buildings and sites in Holland, offering a fun and unique overview. We absolutely loved it and I highly recommend it for adults and children alike. It is right near Scheveningen Beach so enjoy a swim and walk on the beach while there. It's very close to Amsterdam and so worth the experience! Lastly, in Amsterdam, don't forget the marvelous cheese, the Brown Caf├ęs and a sneak peak at the Red Light district, which is definitely a wild scenario to see. You may want to pick up some cute souvenirs such as windmills and little wooden shoes. They will always remind you of your trip there when you return home.
My trips to Spain included Barcelona, which I traveled to first with a colleague for a Health Conference where we gave a presentation. I enjoyed my experience there so much that I returned with my husband for a truly fun time. We visited Barcelona where we enjoyed paella, sangria, the beach, strolling, shopping, cathedrals, museums and adored the work of the great architect Antonio Gaudi including La Sagrada Familia, Casa Batllo and more. Each structure was fantastic and worth seeing! Barcelona is one of those places that you visit and you know you will return again because you must! My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of our time in Barcelona.
Madrid is distinctly different from Barcelona as you get an urban, historical feel while exploring it. It's a place where I could live, rather than just visit. My husband and I saw it for the first time together and we were fascinated! It is the capital of Spain and carries that title excellently! It is chic and filled with excitement as you walk through its many spaces. Again, we experienced delicious food, including tapas, paella, accompanied by sangria, and there was so much other outstanding food, no matter where we went. In terms of museums, The Reina Sofia National Art Center and the Prado Museum are must do's. I also recommend a visit to theRoyal Palace. We truly loved Madrid and I place it in the category of one of my favorite cities in the world. Being able to speak some Spanish, thanks to my awesome Spanish Teacher, was very helpful too and a great place to practice.
If you are going to visit Madrid, I think your trip will not be complete without an excursion to Toledo. Here you will have an experience of Christian, Jewish and Arabic culture in terms of their illustrious history. It is a Unesco World Heritage site and won't disappoint. The highlight is the Fortress of Toledo, followed by walking through a city that will truly fascinate you--particularly in terms of the architecture of the various religious buildings. The food of course, is also delicious. My suggestion is tapas since you will be doing a lot of walking and may want to enjoy small, delectable bites as you sit down to ponder the sites.
So, that sums up my experiences in Spain, The Netherlands, and the UK. I definitely hope to have more there. Next I will cover, Panama, Belize, Costa Rica, Honduras, and Nicaragua, which you don't want to miss. I will talk about pleasure, culture, and service in these beautiful nations. Until then, below are some useful travel tips.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Asian Travel, Natural Hair and Sarees: Diversity Bliss For a Naturalista!

I traveled extensively during the summer of 2015, namely to Vietnam, Japan, China, and India. The weather was hot in all of these lovely places and my hair took a beating but stayed strong. For some reason, within the context of so much heat, humidity, and variations in environment, some of my locks completely unraveled. So, the remedy was henna that I secured in India for healthy conditioning. Just wonderful! I also acquired pure coconut oil in Vietnam, at a spot along the Mekong Delta, to lavish my locks, so moisture was achieved. They make candy and other treats from the coconut there too, which was delicious!
So, with locks in tow, I traveled and traveled, along with my husband (and my adult children for portions of this 7-week journey) loving every moment of the experience. There was very little concern about my locks in any of these places. There were no odd stares or feelings of being "other" in the largely homogeneous nations that I visited. I find, when I travel internationally, especially in Africa and Asia, whatever that feeling is that I have at home--that feeling of being other, as a Black woman, doesn't exist. Sometimes, people stare but do not glare like I often experience at home. There is curiousness but not consternation. I walk comfortably in my difference, knowing that I am adding diversity, vibrantly, to the place where I am visiting.
The Saree
In India, the defining attire of Hindu women is the Saree. It can be made of all types of fabric including satin, chiffon, silk and beyond. It may be heavily embossed and intricately detailed but it's most important characteristic is that it is unique. You will not see two women wearing the same saree (unless it is intentional). The colors, the beauty and grace of sarees represent diversity in terms of attire, geographic location, socioeconomic status and Indian, Hindu culture. Yet, in the differences, sarees represent an undeniable commonality in that no matter the color, design or ornamentation, they are all sarees--representing, as is said in some Asian cultures, "Same Same--But Different." In this case, this indicates the fact that sarees are more the same than different in that they are all made of fabric and are about 6 meters long.
Through my travels, I have learned that Human beings are similar. At our core, like the saree, we are "same, same, but different." At the molecular level, we are the same. We are all comprised of cells, with variations in genetic makeup that leads to varying genotypes and phenotypes, but no one arrangement that leads to our physical appearance is better than another. Having white skin with straight hair vs. brown skin with curly hair, as examples, is not better, just different. We are not all the same without diversity, however. For example, for Black women, with natural, curly kinky hair, we are different from women of other races who may have straight hair. One is not better than the other, just different. Hence, my belief is that for Black women, and all people, Natural IS Cool Enough in any scenario, from social to professional.

To see the rest of the story visit the Huffington Post.  You don't want to miss the ending...