Travel Diary: Ghana, Labadi Beach

During my stay in Accra, I wanted to check out Labadi Beach. I was excited about spending a pleasant Sunday afternoon at the popular spot. I arrived to find hordes of visitors and knew that it was not going to be the quiet time I had anticipated. Much more disappointing though were the piles of rubbish that greeted me, mostly plastic and styrofoam that had washed down from the city's gutters. I had seen those gutters brimming with garbage and grimaced out of concern about the impact of that non bio degradable waste. To then see such waste coursing into the ocean was too much. To see children playing on the beach and in the water amidst the detritus pulled at my heart. It felt like a blatantly cruel act against our planet and our children. Yet, so many adults were there seemingly enjoying the scenery, taking selfies, lounging beneath umbrellas...unbothered by the plastic bottles , wrappers, styrofoam containers scattered across the sand and being claimed by the sea. I felt confused about how such extensive pollution could be so accepted but I wondered if I was being self righteous and paternalistic.

When I travel, I prefer to focus on the best of the place I'm visiting. I strive to leave my biases, preconceived notions and judgements on the aiport tarmac. I am convinced that I gain more from the experience of travel this way. This is perhaps all the more so for the African continent. The belief that there are too often negative representations of African countries  dissuades me from harping on the less than pleasant aspects of life in those nations. I feel a desire to recap only the good and there is indeed always good. However, my recent journey to Accra led me to question whether there is harm in always  glossing over the ugly things I encounter. Although I ascribe to the concept of celebrating the positive things around me  so that more of those things will be manifested, I also believe that it is important to acknowledge the things I wish would change in this world. Yes, I may not be a citizen of Ghana and I should be sensitive to not impose paternalistic opinions but I am a citizen of this world and I care.

Whether it is watching Ghanaian children surrounded by the filthy, harmful refuse of human consumption or seeing the ocean take away that refuse and knowing that it will end up on the other side of the world, I feel affected. Consequently, I can't recount the beautiful aspects of my experience in Accra without addressing the things I hope will be better.Our children and their children deserve better.

Black Woman Power

Much has been said these past few days regarding women's rights, particularly with marches held across the US focused on such and the beginning of Trump's presidency.  I didn't attend any of the marches, not because I was opposed to the principles behind them but because I've needed to sit still and not do much, not say much. Tending to my mental health has been a primary priority, something that as a black woman /woman of colour  is one of the most radical and powerful acts I can carry out. In the space where sexism and racism intersect, the realities for us darker female kind require greater strength- strength that ultimately comes from within. This I know. So as women converged with pickets, loud speakers and  cleverly worded tshirts to demonstrate solidarity, I remained at home meditating, cleaning, listening to music- essentially  feeding my spirit and fortifying my mind. It was all with the intention that I will be able to lead a life that would make this world a safer place for my nieces, possible daughters and other girls. Sisterhood is vital, yes but those divine relationships reflect the relationship we have with ourselves. My sitting in silence was my gesture of solidarity.

Photography: Sammy Sampson 


Strolling & Sipping In Candler Park

Atlanta is a city filled with picturesque neighbourhoods. Charming architecture, verdant trees and inviting shops make strolling around town a treat. I relish every opportunity to enjoy these enclaves. One of my favourite spots is Mr. Bombay, a cosy cafe. It's warmly lit and decorated with books- reminiscent of a place you may find in Paris, London, San Francisco or New York...perfect for settling in with a hot cup of chocolate and a good read. 

Sweater and jeans: Thrifted from an Atlanta Goodwill
Boots: Purchased at Atlanta Consignment Shop Rag-o-Rama
Bag: Thrifted from an Atlanta Goodwill
Earrings: Purchased in Mexico
Rings: An Indian Bazaar in Trinidad & Tobago
Glasses:Warby Parker

Photography: Sammy Sampson 


Sorrel Sangria

Sorrel Sangria
I rang in the New Year quietly, at my apartment with a couple friends, a traditional Trinidadian meal and a few rituals focused on spiritually preparing for 2017. Although I would have liked to be home in Trinidad & Tobago to celebrate, I enjoyed my Stateside version. One of my intentions for putting together the  small gathering was to practise making the best of  wherever I am. Nonetheless, it was important to include a piece of home...which brings me to the sorrel sangria. Sorrel is a drink that we in the Caribbean typically drink during the holidays: December to January. This may be largely  due to the fact that the particular hibiscus plant from which the fruit is derived blooms around this time of the year. It is one of my favourite beverages. This year I decided to put a twist on this Caribbean staple by making a ‘sangria’ by adding some red wine. Just in case it is new to you, sangria is a Spanish cocktail made with red wine and fruit. The sorrel and the red wine went so well together that I wondered why I had not thought before of combining the two. It was a perfect way to bring a bit of home to my New Year festivities...Speaking of New Year's, I hope that 2017 will be full of much goodness for you.

*3 cups of dried sorrel (typically, we use the fresh flowers, either is fine)
* ½ a bottle  of Spanish red wine (I used  Las Rocas de San Alejandro )
* 1 tbsp of cloves
* 4 cups of brown sugar (I don’t use much sugar because I don’t like my sorrel
   too sweet but you can adjust as you prefer )
* 20 cups of  water
*1 cup of Angostura bitters
* 2 sticks of cinnamon
* 4 centimetre piece of orange peel
* 4 bay leaves (I didn’t use this or cinnamon in this  batch because I didn’t want   
    those flavours in the Sangria but I will probably add them the next time)
* 1 tsp of vanilla extract or mixed essence

*Bring 16 cups of water to a boil.
*Add cinnamon sticks, cloves & bay leaves.
*Stir continuously for 1 minute while boiling ; cover & allow to simmer on low
 heat for 30 minutes.
*Add sorrel, brown sugar &  4 more cups of water ; continue to simmer for
 another 30 minutes.
*Steep overnight or at least for 4 hours.
*Sift to separate the sorrel flowers from the juice.
*Add Angostura bitters.
*Add vanilla extract or mixed essence.
*Add water and sugar depending on tartness and potency.
*Pour into jars or bottles and refrigerate until serving.

Serves 16