Savvy Travel Adventures from My Lens

Travel Tips: Top 3 Destinations that Changed My Life

As I mentioned in my last post, time seems to be flying by at lightening speed.   The top 3 destinations that were life-changing for me, all for very different reasons are:

1. Capetown, South Africa

2. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

3.  Anguilla

Now, I will spend a little time sharing my travel experiences in these destinations, and why they changed my life.

South Africa

Traveling to South Africa was a huge dream for me, I wanted to see the continent of Africa, wanted to feel a connection to African ancestry.  In 1999, I traveled to Capetown, a 21 hour journey from Atlanta, with a brief stop in Johannesburg.  My most vivid memory is the highway right outside the airport, on each side there were shanty towns.  Miles of metal shacks, small (5 x 5), no electricity, no running water, no ability to receive mail, packed.  For the first time in my life, I cried.  I cried for the African people, for what I perceived they did not have, and for my inability to make a difference at that moment.    That moment, that scene touched me more than any other place I’ve traveled to.   We visited Robben Island, deeply touched to see the prison where President Nelson Mandela spent over 30 years of his adult life.  We also did all of the normal tourist attractions, Table Mountain, the Cape of Good Hope, the wine country, a safari on a private game ranch, and the wine country.    There are two other gems….The first, that Apartheid was over, in principle only, racism was still very much alive.  The caste system based on skin color within the South African communities still divided the blacks vs. coloreds.  As we learned, blacks were not allowed to marry coloreds, work in professional positions, or vote.  Most dropped out of school at young ages to help support their families.  Coloreds, with lighter skin tones, are afforded education, wealth, and voting/political rights.  We were told that 70% of the black population in South Africa was completely illiterate, without the ability to read or write.  This fact would keep blacks from holding professional jobs, holding political office, and lacking the resources for education and elevation.  Everything I saw and heard was very different from what is portrayed in the media.  I was most touched by this journey, and by meeting people who lived lives happy, regardless of their circumstances.  Happy without all of the “necessities”  and privileges we live with here in the U.S.  I promised myself to never again take certain things for granted (food, water, shelter, clothing, education, health care).

Rio de Janeiro

In the early nineties, I traveled for the first time to Rio with friends and a thirst for adventure travel.   Rio is a city of fun, parties, beaches, drinks, carnival, and beautiful people.   I was struck by the extraordinary beauty of the Portuguese people, their smiles, and lively spirits.  In Rio, we also encountered high levels of poverty and crime.  What I remember most, during a tour, is the story of the 500,000 homeless children living in slums and shanties.  In Rio, children are often put out at the age of 5, as the family grows and the parents are no longer able to provide for multiple children.   These children live together in large numbers, they are exposed to prostitution, crime, murder, panhandling, pedophiles, and other unimaginable dangers at such young ages.  It was life changing to see how others live, in poverty, without basic necessities that we take for granted.  Safe shelter, food, water, clean clothes.  No play dates, video games, books, playgrounds, trips to Chuck E. Cheese or McDonald’s.  Brazil touched me, my heart broke for these children, my prayers went out to them.

Anguilla

Anguilla is a very tiny island in the British West Indies, just off the coast of St. Maarten and St. Barths, few have visited or even heard of.  The island is only 35 square mile, 16 miles long, and 3 miles wide at the widest point. This very special place is like my second home.  The beaches, with the most amazing turquoise waters and white powdery sand, are to die for.   It is a luxury destination catering to celebrities and the wealthy.   Michael Jordan.  Mariah Carey.  Jennifer Aniston.   Sandra Bullock.  Beyonce. Jay-Z.  So you would ask, how did I end up there, since I’m not a celebrity, and definitely not wealthy.   I happened to discover Anguilla on the internet, saw pictures, and decided that I must make the trip.    Anguilla requires a 3 and half hour flight nonstop from Atlanta to St. Maarten, followed by a 12 minute ferry ride from St. Maarten.  It is a long journey, but so worth it, in every way.  The beaches are quiet, safe, without lots of tourists, the water is clear, and you can totally relax.   It is here that I found peace at a time in my life when I needed it most.  Everyone I met greeted me with a smile, asked if it was my first trip to the island, and asked me to please come again.  Anguilla is known for beaches and cuisine.  I spent time, made friends, ate fresh Lobster and fish on the beach, and indulged in rum punches and mango coladas daily.  I make a trip to Anguilla every year….to rest, to relax, to visit friends, to meditate, and whatever it is I need to restore….Anguilla is truly a state of mind, tranquility at the highest.

Today, I found out about my first ever blog nomination- the versatile blog award.

Big thanks to Black Helios for the nomination and for giving me the push and encouragement to do blogging more often. Thank you so much for the kind gesture!

By the way this is the link going to his amazing blog <

http://blackhelios.wordpress.com/

7 Things About Myself

I’m in to Photography

Travel is my passion

Love beaches

Love cupcakes

Love dogs

Chocolate is my weakness

Live jazz is my music of choice

More to come….

3 responses

  1. Hello! Because I found your blog really interesting, I nominated your blog for the Versatile blogger award, details can be found here http://blackhelios.wordpress.com/2012/06/12/surprise-surprise/, Thank you! Keep up your amazing blog entries!

    June 12, 2012 at 6:23 AM

    • Good Morning Blackhelios. Thank you, I am incredibly honored, and really appreciate the nomination…

      June 12, 2012 at 7:08 AM

      • you deserve it! God bless!

        June 12, 2012 at 10:46 PM

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