Travel diaries : Brazzaville

Home is where the food is. My fellow Congolese will agree with this statement, probably adding music to the statement lol. So, if you have never been to Congo, now is the time!

I left NYC cold weather for a warmer destination: Brazzaville. I had been planning this trip for a bit, making sure that I would make it on time to surprise my dad on his 66th birthday. Every single member of my family was in the confidence, including my 10-month-old nephew, except for my dad of course.

I left NYC on sunday night, my flight was supposed to leave at 6:20pm but didn’t take off until 11pm. I ended up missing my connecting flight in Paris the next morning and was rebooked to a flight to Morocco. I had a 6-hours layover in Casablanca and waited another hour in Pointe-Noire to finally make it on Tuesday morning at 5.50am to surprise my old man.

One of my suitcases did not arrive until Wednesday evening, although Air France continuously assured me that they would both make it at the same time as I did. Delta never apologized for the inconvenience but I guess that is just how things work with these companies. In the end, I was home and, the tears my father and I shared that morning were priceless.

While my journey was full of unforeseen events, I did manage this time to catch up with my loved ones. No partying nor heavy drinking but, lots of quality time with family and friends, and some sunbathing cause my skin was craving some vitamin D!

I am not sure if I am getting older (and wiser lol) but I don’t feel the urge anymore to be outdoors all the time. I despise crowded places and above all, the hypocrisy that surrounds our milieu. I have reached my limits and can no longer pretend to like being around people I simply cannot stand. Last year definitely taught me that life was too short to be living anything but your own truth.

Although I was born and raised in Brazzaville, I only started appreciating the beauty and richness of my culture until recently. Crazy right? Well I always was and will be a fan of my native land. In fact, the longer I lived in abroad, the more I value and cherish the time I spend here. Even though I complain all the time about people being lazy and that I live too far from the center of the city, it makes me sad to see how my colourful and vibrant city was affected by the financial crisis.

I always loved the food at Mami Wata, it is what we call a “valeur sure” – meaning, you can never go wrong there. Although I always get the same items off the menu, which consists of the fish brochette (kebab) with a side of plantains and rice. What I enjoy the most there is the view of the Congo River and of Kinshasa. My crush however was the newly opened Elbo Suites whose modern architecture and, its simplistic and discrete staff definitely contributed to the hotel’s fast growing reputation. I met my girls there for diner and had the Carbonara Pasta and a Mojito which were both to die for and, THE best in town!

Although this was a very short trip, I definitely refueled my soul and heart, from the house staff to the cab drivers, the rude street vendors and the invasive family members. All of this contributed into making my quick sweet escape a very colorful and cheerful experience! I am not sure when I will be able to return home but at least I know I carry it everywhere and wherever I go, in my heart!

For further information about Brazzaville and all of its beautiful and amazing touristic attractions, visit the National Tourism Office, you will get more tips on where to stay, eat and party; how to access the Odzala National Park and see the Gorillas, amongst all things.

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Travel diaries : St Thomas, Emerald of the Sea

Saint Thomas is one of the Virgin Islands in the Caribbean sea that constitute the unincorporated territory of the United States. The island is only about 32 square miles (80.7 km2), with a population of  50 thousands people. Although the official language is English, locals speak patois – a mix of Creole, English, Spanish sometimes and French.

From the minute we landed, I immediately felt at home: the sun, the breeze, the turquoise sea, the palm trees. The Caribbean have that “je ne sais quoi” about its people, landscape, food, music and atmosphere. I’ve never felt so close to my homeland in the four years that I have lived in the U.S. and it felt great!

This trip was a refreshing and very intimate moment for the hubby and I. It was important for us to take the time off and reminisce about the past two months; to look at how our relationship has evolved in the past two years and think about the future.

It also allowed me to reconnect with one of my passions: photography. I’ve always been really excited about capturing key moments of life, creating durable memories. My lens allows me to stop time and make that instant live forever. I look at photography as a way to escape my routine and immortalize my surroundings and loved ones.

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Thanks to the wonderful staff at the Ritz Carlton who made our stay the most pleasant, relaxing and peaceful honeymoon. We couldn’t have wished for any better. We will definitely be back and this time with friends and family: the more, the merrier! The scenery was simply divine – minus the mosquitoes who turned my legs fifty shades of red.