Tag Archive: Landmarks


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Anonymous- Egypt, Sept-Oct 2011

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Yemen has never been one of the most popular vacation spots on earth.  I would say it’s probably one of the world’s best kept secrets.   The highest altitude on the Arabian peninsula (or so I was told, time and time again when I was there, Yemen is not a rich country but it’s history, landscapes, and (if you are so inclined) Arabic language learning opportunities are worthwhile.   I enjoyed my time there and most people that I have come across who’ve been have enjoyed it.  Whatever the outcome of the current unrest/revolution in progress there, most people will not get a chance to go to Yemen.  For those of you who have never experienced Yemen, feast your eyes on this.

Roof top, Sanaa

The old city of Sanaa, the Yemeni capital is recognized by the UN as world heritage site.  The nice part about Old Sanaa is that many of the buildings are quite tall.  And so, the views from the rooftops are awesome:

Rooftop Photo of Where Historic Sanaa ends and the New City Begins

Minaret

The view from the ground wasn’t too bad either.

Some people say the buildings look like gingerbread houses.

And then of course there is the landscape:

But everything was not completely unfamiliar:

KFC.... or as Yemeni tax drivers call it, "Kentucky"

Pizza Hut

GDS – Yemen, May-June 2007

Ghana: Akomsombo

I spent most of my childhood believing that Nigeria shared a border with Ghana. This should give you a clue on how much Nigerians talk about Ghana, we seem to have a love and hate relationship. It is not uncommon to hear a Nigerian praise and berate Ghana in the same sentence; ‘There’s no power shortages in Ghana but I don’t see what’s so special about the place.’ I realised the importance attached to Ghana might be strongly due to the fact that Nigeria is surrounded by French-speaking countries and Ghana is our closest English-speaking neighbour in West Africa. With Ghana firmly set on the path to development and not having as much wahala as Nigeria is said to have, it has become the perfect holiday spot for Nigerians. Travelling to Ghana is way cheaper than travelling to Europe and packs almost as much fun.

Ghana is the first African country I actually travelled to! Imagine that I’ve been to several corners of the world but the only African country I knew was the one I was born in. This made my trip there even more interesting, I truly wanted to see what Ghana had to offer. I left for Accra on Christmas Eve with my mum and we planned everything through a tour agency which basically means everything was planned. We were really pissed that our first day in Accra, that is the day after we landed, we had to be up by 7 for the long bus ride to the Akosombo dam where we would catch an afternoon cruise on the Dodi Princess.

It probably took us an hour and a half to get to Akosombo from Accra and when we finally got there we had to wait a while before we got our tickets and boarded the ship. And while on the ship we had to wait even longer before things set up, apparently we were waiting for the food. It is a 2 hour cruise to Dodi island which is an island somewhere along the river. There were actually several islands scattered there. The journey to Dodi was pretty uneventful, I sat right in front of the live band on a table filled with Nigerians and hearing them talk politics bored me to tears. I spent a lot of time staring at the sea and enjoying the slight breeze secretly longing for us to reach our destination and for the journey to be over.

We did reach our destination, Dodi Island, but it wasn’t what I expected. The inhabitants of the island must have been expecting us because they came out to dance. The dances were uncoordinated but I guess they worked it because some of the other tourists got excited and started mimicking their dance. I walked a path on the island till I reached its end, there wasn’t much to see. Some braver tourists set out looking for the village, they didn’t know it was on the other side of the island. Apparently they walk days just to dance and entertain us tourists. Not only that, they also come to beg. On my journey into the island, a little boy not older than seven years came to hold my hand and I immediately pulled away. ‘Do you want anything?’ he asked and I shook my head and hurried away. Then I started feeling bad. After I had seen all the island had to offer, I sought out the boy and gave him 10 Ghanaian cedis. Another boy saw my action and followed me all the way to the ship but I didn’t have more to give. When I told my mother what had transpired she said; ‘Isn’t this Africa?’

Now it was the return journey that was really fun. It took 2 hours to get to Dodi island from where we boarded the ship and the journey back there was 2 hours. The fun started when the MC came up to the stage. He gave us a brief history of the ship, pointed out the various rivers that meet at the dam. He informed us that we could make requests to the band and then he said; ‘The Chinese and Indians on board want to sing a song for us.’ So he called on ‘the Chinese’ and a young couple came onto the stage. The wife did most of the talking, apparently her husband couldn’t speak much English, they were in Ghana for their honeymoon. She then proceed to sing a song that she said was about a beautiful jasmine. After her song, the MC joked he had heard ‘Nigeria’ in her song. Because the Indians were not ready to present their song, the MC asked Nigerians to come up. Immediately, three people came up on the stage vying for the microphone. In a few minutes they were organised and after a short speech they started singing. And then Nigerians took over everything, the singing went on for ages and lots of Nigerians got up and started dancing. When the MC signalled to end the singing, they stopped but things didn’t end there. A man took the opportunity to promote Nigeria, ‘Nigerians were voted the happiest people in the world’, and I thought aren’t those stats outdated? ‘Nigeria is the place where God resides’ and I’m like ‘Really?’

Another Nigerian took the opportunity to crack a joke that I’m sure only Nigerians understood in its entirety even though he spoke pidgin English. In this manner, the journey back was made entertaining. At one point a woman asked to dedicate a song to her mother, the band played the quintessential song ‘Sweet Mother’. A few people came out to dance with the old mother and placed money on her forehead as we do. I believe that for the tourists of other nationalities, this was a glimpse of African culture. For most of the return journey, the people who danced on stage were either Ghanaians or Nigerians. Oh but there was this one Indian man who really danced and kept on dragging beautiful dark-skinned young women to dance with him. By the end of the cruise everyone knew him, ‘That Indian man really had fun. His wife too, they didn’t hesitate to enjoy themselves.’

On the entire journey back to Accra, there was a lot of discussion. As I said earlier, we travelled in a bus and our companions were fellow Nigerians. They were very impressed by the cruise and their experience of it so most of the journey was spent on talking about they ways in which Ghana was better than Nigeria. ‘When was the last time you saw this many oyibo in Nigeria?’ one woman asked. ‘Look at us here travelling with a tour guide. If someone wanted to go to a Nigerian airport saying they were a tour guide, they’d grow old and die there.’ another woman replied. ‘There are things to see in Nigeria but the problem is that Nigerians are crazy, Ghanaians have sense.’ And I guess I should cease and desist lest I air Nigeria’s dirty laundry ^^;

Eccentric Yoruba- Ghana, January 2011.

Originally posted at:  http://eccentricyoruba.dreamwidth.org/23422.html

For more information on Eccentric and her journey in Ghana please visit:  http://eccentricyoruba.dreamwidth.org/

When I found out Quark Expeditions was looking for a blogger/writer to document their June 2011 Arctic expedition to the North Pole, I typed in an entry faster than I could refresh the contest page.

As I kept sending out plea after plea to friends and family to cast their votes, I realized I needed to share my backstory and why this contest means so much to me.

This isn’t about trying to reach a place others haven’t been. It isn’t about showing off or trying to compete with friends going on their own amazing polar expeditions (which I’m super stoked about). It isn’t about country-counting (or iceberg counting).

This is about something I thought would never happen to me.

About a statement I made (and truly believed) in my early teens about going specifically to the North Pole.

Childhood Dream

I remember sitting in Mr. Kayode’s geography class (my favorite) in secondary school, an atlas in my hand looking at political boundaries; countries way beyond my reach at that time. I constantly joked about it with family and friends. “I will reach the North Pole,” I often said, oblivious to the fact that I was sitting in tropical sub-Saharan Africa and had never seen snow at that time.

I never, ever in my wildest dreams would have thought I’d be a few votes and judges away from realizing that dream.

Never.

It’s Personal

My contacts and networks mean a lot to me and reaching out to every one of you to vote has been humbling and has filled me with even more gratitude. I care about every single person behind the vote so this is a lot more personal than just some social media campaign. I sincerely hope Quark Expeditions realizes this. Every single one of you is important beyond just your vote.

It’s Moving

The North Pole is moving. Granted, it’s not going to shift all the way to Africa in my lifetime, but it’s moving nonetheless and I’d like to get there while it’s still the North Pole.

Big Shoes

This is the closest I’d ever be to a bonafide Arctic explorer. Sure, we’d be rolling up in some style abroad a Russian nuclear-powered icebreaker, but nevertheless, sailing the paths of these Arctic explorers I’d only read and learned about in geography class would be a tremendous honor.

When I get there, I will plant 3 flags (if allowed): one for Nigeria my heritage, one for the United States my new home, and one for Sweden my love.

I’m also a serial jumper and plan on taking a classic jumping shot similar to these – http://www.flickr.com/photos/lolaakinmade/sets/72157623992737985/

Quark is Eco-Friendly

The polar regions (Arctic and Antarctica) are becoming more vulnerable and susceptible to human denigration and global warming. If I didn’t think Quark Expeditions was an environmentally responsible company (which they are), I won’t be participating in this.

Creativity

As a writer, the vastness, barrenness, and sparseness of the North Pole is bound to rejuvenate my creativity by taking away all distractions, and helping me focus in the now; on each breath, and each heartbeat. It will force and help me to dig deeper.

Visual Candy

Jarring white icebergs against dark blue ink waters is a photographer’s dream to not only witness, but shoot and shoot till their fingers are frost-bitten.

On Lunacy

My husband thinks I’m crazy even though he’s from around these parts and grew up in Swedish Lapland. I’d like to validate his thoughts.

We Dey There!

Nigerians are known for traveling far and wide. I’d be honored to continue this tradition.

Serving and Gratitude

Paying it forward – To whom much is given, much is expected. How can I NOT pay this generosity forward?!

 

Lola Akinmade-North Pole hopeful – 2011

*Originally published at:  http://lolaakinmade.com/2010/12/06/10-reasons-why-i-want-to-go-to-the-north-pole/

for more informationa  how your vote can make Lola’s North Pole expedition dreams a reality please visit the link above.

For more information on Lola’s travel experiences please visit:  http://lolaakinmade.com/

One of the things that excited me most about Cozumel was the chance to explore the Mayan goddess Ixchel’s shrine at San Gervasio. The 2,000 year old structure covers 125 acres in the Cozumel rain forest. Mimi, our authoritative guide above, showed our group the intricacies of ancient Mayan culture.

 

San Gervasio is the biggest archaeological site in Cozumel and is located in the center of the island. Ixchel is the Mayan goddess of the moon and fertility and women made the pilgrimage to the shrine from as far away as what is now Belize and Guatemala to ensure that they birthed the average 18 kids expected of a Mayan woman.

The structures were created from a mixture of stucco, honey, gum and crushed shells. Temples typically boasted a sauna and a steam bath with hot rocks so that followers could purify themselves by sweating, praying and meditating.

The steps to the shrines are very small, forcing worshipers to walk sideways so as not to look the priest in the face, which is a sign of respect.

This is the the entrance to the 9 mile road called Sac Bey or white road,that they Maya took to reach the shrines. They would walk by moonlight when it was cooler, leaving their canoes back at the end of the road. The arch is about 5 feet tall and dates from 1200-1650 A.D.

The Maya cut the limestone rocks using onyx knifes. The innovation and details of these shrines and altars still remain, thousands of years later.
An aura of the sacred hovers around the site and Mexican women still make pilgrimages to Ixcehl’s shrine. In a little box in front of the shrine below, we saw flowers, coins and incense left as offerings to Ixchel. They say that Cozumel retains something in the water and that couples routinely return home pregnant. I don’t know about that but I was happy to pay my respects to Ixchel.

Farsighted Fly Girl- Guatemala, August 2009

Originally posted at:  http://rosalindcummingsyeates.blogspot.com/2009/08/journey-to-ixchel-and-san-gervasio.html

*For more info on Farsighted Fly Girl and her travels please visit http://rosalindcummingsyeates.blogspot.com/

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