With love from Namibia – Land of the Brave

Greetings from Southern Africa, Namibia to be exact! I’m on a 5-week vacation, visiting three beautiful Southern African countries; Angola, South Africa and Namibia.The beauty of being a Health Promotion Management Consultant  and running your own business is that you have the flexibility of being able to pick up and go on vacation whenever you want to, for as long as you need to, without seeking the “time off work” approval by anyone, and while still having the flexibility and option to do a bit of work while on travel… I suppose it’s more accurate to say that I’m on a business and pleasure vacation.

I flew here from Washington, DC Dulles Airport with Ethiopian Airlines. It was my first time flying Ethiopian Airlines since they just introduced a direct route to Namibia (with two quick stops). I enjoyed the 20 hour flight because the service was superb; great movies on my own personal TV, enough leg room, and they fed us a lot, rather too much but who’s complaining, right?!….. I would highly recommend Ethiopian Airlines… If anyone knows someone in management position at Ethiopian Airlines, please have them contact me or please share their contact info….


Inside Ethiopian Airlines

Moving on…. 12 hours later, we landed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, got out of the plane and waited for a about two hours before continuing to our final destination. However, we couldn’t leave the airport. Apparently, it’s hard to get a visa approval to Ethiopia and just about everyone needs a visa (I believe there’s only one or two countries exempt from the visa requirements). Nonetheless, my short stay inside Addis Ababa International Airport was horrible. It has to be the worse airport I have ever been in my life (but then again I have only been in two airports in Africa; Johannesburg/South Africa and Windhoek/Namibia. From the plane, outside the building, the airport looks beautiful. I even thought it looked better than Windhoek/Namibia’s Hosea Kutako International Airport. I was quite impressed. But as soon as I set foot inside the airport, I felt like I was at a village bus stop, some where in the remote areas of Africa. It was hot, over crowded and not welcoming…. I was standing in line for the whole two hours with nowhere to sit. The bathrooms looked small, scary and nasty from outside but they were actually cleaner inside than I expected. Maybe they just got cleaned before I entered since the cleaning lady was still in there. Others have told me that the bathrooms are usually nasty. I guess I was a bit lucky that day. Anyway, that was a bit disappointing considering the fact that Ethiopian Airlines provided top notch service. The airport should match its national airline and upgrade….. Two hours later, I was happy to leave Addis Ababa airport with Ethiopian Airlines. We made a quick stop in Gaborone, Botswana to pick up more passengers before heading to our final destination, Windhoek, Namibia. We didn’t leave the plane this time but I wish we did so I can at least say that I stepped a foot in Botswana since I have never been there before…. 20 hours later after leaving the USA, I arrived in Windhoek, Namibia to the lovely sight of some of my family members….!



I’m happy to be writing this blog post from one of my favorite travel destinations in the world; the beautiful Namibia!  Namibia is my 2nd home for various reasons. I wasn’t born or raised here but my parents are Namibian. So I make it a point to visit here often, for business and pleasure. It’s good to be back home, surrounded by amazing friends and family , including my 4 year old son, who’s on his second trip to Africa. He came here for the first time when he was only one and loved it. Hopefully he will grow up to be a global trotter like his mommy.

Recap: Trip to Namibia in 2014; my son’s first trip to Africa at age of 1.

If you have no idea where Namibia is and have never heard of it, do noy despair. You’re not alone. There are a lot of people out there who have never heard of Namibia and have no idea where in the world it is. I live in one of the most international cities in the world, Washington, DC, and I can’t tell you how many times people have told me that I’m the first Namibian they have ever met. 95% of the people I meet in the USA had never met anyone from Namibia. I used to joke around that maybe I should start carrying a petition so people who meet a first Namibian could sign the petition and I will present it to the Namibian government and compensate me for the wonderful job that I’m doing as a non-paid, un-official Namibian Ambassador promoting Namibia to the world… I decided the petition was not necessary; I’m happy to be of service to my country of descent and helping to put her on the world map, in my small but big way….


The basics… Namibia is pronounced NAH-MEE-BEER, NOT NAMBIA; note that there’s an “i” after the “M.” Sorry, I know you can read and know how to put your letters together but I had to make that clear because that’s what I always hear when I say “Namibia”… People who have never heard of Namibia or been there make it a point to correct me saying…”Oh, you mean NAMBIA”…. And I’m like… “No.. It’s N-A-M-I-B-I-A…. There’s an ‘i’ after ‘m’…”… Now that we have gotten the pronunciation out of the way, here is the fun and cool stuff about Namibia that will make you fall in love with her, like many people do when they are introduced to her.

People think Namibia is a small country just cause they have never heard of her. She’s the 34th largest country in the world at 318,772 mi² / 824,292 square kilometers. she’s 12 times the size of the USA and slightly more than half the size of Alaska. In the general scope of things, the only small thing about Namibia is her population, which estimated at 2.3 million people. She’s a big, under populated country with a GDP per capita of US$6,000 which is quite high at 48% of the world average and therefore it’s considered to be a middle-income country, although there’s a big income disparity among its citizens. The life expectancy of Namibians is 63.88 years. Not too shabby…

Namibia is rich and beautiful country on the southwest part of Africa, with unspoiled, breathtaking landscape, highly protected environment, and wildlife. She’s neighbored by South Africa on the south, Angola on the north, Zambia on the northeast and Botswana on the east. The Atlantic Ocean is on the west. Namibia is blessed with an abundance of natural resources. She produces large quantities of lead, zinc, tin, silver, and tungsten. She’s the world’s fifth largest producer of uranium, is the fourth largest exporter of non-fuel minerals in Africa. She’s also rich in alluvial diamond deposits, a primary source for gem quality diamonds. Namibia has a rich culture from its 13 diverse ethnic groups; The San People (formerly known as the bush people who make up 3% of the population), Owambo (50%), Whites (6%), Damara (7%), Herero (7%), Baster (2%), Nama (5%), Kavango (9%), Colored (this does not mean black people like in America; it basically means mixed-race , 5.5%), Tswanas (0.5%), Himba (0.5%), Caprivian (4%), Topnaars (0.5%).


Politically, Namibia is a peaceful country with a stable democratic government. It used to be a German colony and then after World War 1 when German lost everything, Namibia was handed to the British who didn’t want to deal with her on that level so she was handed apartheid South Africa, who ruled Namibia under the same apartheid regime that was in Namibia. Namibia and South Africa basically shared the same government and was an un-official province of South Africa from 1918 until the apartheid war ended in 1989. Namibia became independent from South Africa on March 21st, 1990. I’m proud to say that my parents were one of the brave freedom fighters who fled apartheid Namibia to pick up arms and fought to liberate Namibia. Namibia is coined “Land of the Brave” because of brave men and women like my parents who laid their lives down for the freedom that Namibians enjoy today.

Compared to many African countries, Namibia is quite industrialized, with good infrastructure. She is one of Africa’s success stories and is considered to be one of four LEAST corrupt country in Namibia. Most people who visit Namibia often marvel at her beauty, cleanliness, and level of development; citing that they felt like they were in a European country. So tourism wise, Namibia is a paradise and heaven on earth. I always tell people that there’s nothing in the USA that I can’t get in Namibia. The only difference is that life is slower in Namibia, there’s no sense of urgency, customer service sucks (my biggest Namibia pet-peeve; hopefully it has improved since I was last there 3 years ago), the air is fresher, the food it better, even coke/coca-cola tastes 100% better and more authentic (Lord help me, I’m on a coke diet but hopefully I won’t give in…)… Anyway, there’s no better way to introduce you to Namibia than through this amazing video. Check it out:


Week 1 – Hello Namibia! I’m back!!!

I spent the first week in Namibia catching up with family. We threw a party party for “sweet mother”, went out partying with some of my cousins, went on a tour of Windhoek, provided some global health fitness travel services, relaxed and enjoyed time with loved ones.

Windhoek City baby!!! My home in Namibia!
One of Namibia’s staple foods: Oshifima and Vambo chicken
YUMMY! My son and I’s favorite items to consume while in Namibia!


I love Windhoek!

First order of the day when you visit Africa is to get your hair done/ braided (styled) perfectly by the local people at an affordable price. Support local business… I got my hair braided by Johanna’s Beauty Salon +264816569253 (Windhoek, Namibia). Johanna has been doing hair since she was 10 years old! Video Music by: TK/Joseph Nashilundo.

Fun Night out with family

Fun Night, party hopping from Katutura (the Windhoek township area) to Windhoek City Center where we closed off the night at Monaco. #Oshimwenyo (FunLife) with #Family #Monaco #Windhoek #Namibia

And of course, I had to visit Single Quarters for some Kapana. Kapana is Namibia’s delicacy and you can’t come to Namibia and not eat Kapana (barbecue meat prepared the Namibian way)….



Global Health-Fitness Work in Namibia

I’m passionate about providing health, wellness and fitness services around the world. As a Global Health Fitness Professional with over 15 years experience in the field, I work with the The WellnessPlex Global Health Foundation, where we travel around the world providing free health education, health screenings such as blood pressure, cholesterol, body composition, glucose, and fitness/physical activities, especially in low income communities where there is a great need for such services. Our global health campaign motto is “Know Your Numbers and Move Your Body.” To support our global health campaign, please visit http://www.thewellnessplex.com or email info@thewellnessplex.com / thewellnessplex@gmail.com.

Providing free health screenings #KnowYourNumbers
Leading a dance fitness session #MoveYourBody


Windhoek, Namibia

Windhoek is a beautiful capital city of Namibia. It is considered to be Africa’s cleanest city. See for your self (video below). My tour included a visit to shopping malls, Parliament build and garden, State House, various Hills where you can get a beautiful view of Windhoek, Christ Church, National Museum, Christ Church/Christus Kirche.

Watch my tour of Windhoek City


Beautiful Windhoek City (Independence Avenue)

Magnificent view of Windhoek City from The Hill…..

During my tour of Windhoek, I had an unpleasant experience while admiring the State House. This is what went through my mind soon after the experience….

The Status update I made on my social media profile which received a lot of comments and likes in favor: “Not allowed to take pictures and videos of the State House? What the heck? There are even signs on the big wall-fence saying no photos (videos) allowed…. (Disclaimer: I got the attached image from google)…… I don’t live in Namibia so yesterday I was doing a tour of Windhoek City like a true tourist, appreciating the City. When I got to the front/the main entrance of the State House, far far away from the nearest State House building, I got out of the car about to take pictures and video and the security stopped me saying no pictures and videos allowed. I was confused, like what???…Why??? There are no such restrictions at the White House in America, and even at Buckingham Palace, which is a far bigger deal than the Namibian State House, security wise… The public/visitors can even go inside the White House…. The State House was built with Namibian tax payers money but yet Namibians cannot even take a nice and decent picture of the State House, nor are public visitations allowed? This does not sound right…. Eepangelo nali talepo nawa (in Oshiwambo which means the government should do something about this)…. Or am I missing something???”….

Namibia’s State House

My favorite part of being in Namibia is that I get to experience life in Windhoek City and life in Katutura, as I have family members who live in both. Katutura is a township in Windhoek. It is Namibia’s version of Soweto in South Africa. Katutura and Soweto basically have the same history of apartheid. Just like Soweto, Katutura is where black Namibians were forced to move to by the apartheid regime during apartheid, far away from Windhoek City where the white Namibians lived. Today, Katutura has a mixture of modern houses and shacks. It’s a people’s place where there’s constant fun and liveliness. People there seem happier, livelier and freer than those who live in big houses in the city, in spite the poverty. I have family who live in Windhoek City and Katutura, however, Katutura is my favorite place to stay and hangout while in Namibia.

Watch my Katutura video here:


I also got a chance to visit Hereos Acre in Windhoek a memorial site for Namibia’s hereos who played a big role in liberating Namibia from colonialist and apartheid. I had to pay respect to the fallen heroes of Namibia. Their blood and sweat waters Namibia’s  freedom that we so enjoy today. Their sacrifice for freedom is celebrated every year on the August 26 which is a national holiday.

Watch my visit to Heroes Acre here:


Week 2: Visiting South Africa!


 I had an amazing time in South Africa visiting family and going around Pretoria, Soweto, Johannesburg and Sandton. I have members to cherish for a lifetime and I can’t wait to be back again soon. Be sure to read the South Africa post in my blog. Click here to read all about it.

Week 3: Back in Namibia!

When I got back from visiting family in South Africa, I got put the final touches on organizing my family reunion on my dad’s side. The reunion was a huge success. I got a chance to meet some of my family members for the first time and reconnected with the ones I already knew. I also got a chance to learn more about my beautiful large family. Family is precious and we should cherish each other at every opportunity we get.

Enjoying a family reunion

After the family Reunion, I traveled to Owamboland (The North) where my family originates from. I’m from the Aawambo tribe and our native langue is Oshiwambo. Nearly all the Oshiwambo speakers in Namibia (50% of the population) travel to the North to visit family. You can’t visit Namibia and not travel to the North (village) to visit family in the village. The trip to the North is always a fun and therapeutic with because of the beautiful Namibian scenery, great company, yummy food and entertaining music.

Road trip to the North… The scenery!
The scenery…. Road trip to the North


Beautiful Rainbow in Owamboland (the North)

Video of my road trip to the North:

The northern part of Namibia has towns and villages. The villages are traditional homes and every Oshiwambo family has a traditional home that they go to on a regular basis to retreat, relax, visit family and to celebrate special family events such as weddings. The towns are modern with brick buildings, indoor running water and electricity. The villages on are a different story; visiting a village is almost like going back in time to he 1800s of before that. I get to stay at both modernized and traditional villages on both sides of my family. I chose to show the traditional one cos it’s different. Let’s be proud of where we came from, how far we have come and appreciate it all.

Inside a village homestead….
The field..
Village huts
Olupalo… A special place for gathering in the village
Village huts

The village homes are called homesteads and they are surrounded by a fence. Some fences are made of tree logs, wire barbs and bricks. Some villages have brick houses but most of them have huts where people sleep and they don’t have indoor running water/taps and electricity. So villagers have to fetch water from a community tap, the river or the well. Life is very simple in the villages. Most of the stead has a kraal for goats, cows and other domestic animals. The food in the village is organic as families grow and prepare their own food.

Me pounding omahangu which is made into Oshiwambo staple food, oshifima
At the village kitchen
Working in the field…

Unfortunately, most villages don’t have indoor plumbing so one has to go and do their business in the bush (toilet) and take a bath in the tree-log bathroom as shown below.

Village life: Going to the bush (toilet) to do my business…
Village life: Taking a bath

I had a great time in the North. I believe this is the most fun I have ever had visiting the village and I will cherish these memories.

Watch my village video below:


Week 4: Visit to Angola

Angola-Namibia border: In Oshikango (Namibia side) crossing into Santa Clara (Angola side)

After my time in the village, I decided to cross the border into Angola and visit the country where I was born. Angola borders Namibia so it was a lot easier and faster for for me to go Angola while in the north via Oshikango/Santa Clara Border. I had a great time in Angola. It was my first time back since I left back in June 1989 after the apartheid war ended. Read more about my trip to Angola here:

Week 5: Farewell….

Oh my way back from the North/Owamboland going back to Namibia to relax and get ready to travel back to the USA, I made a quick pass through Etosha National Park to see the wild life. It was my first time there and wish I had dedicated more time to spend at the park. I only spend an hour there and didn’t get to see all the animals. To see as many animals, you need to go in the morning or early afternoon and spend a whole day there as they close at sunset. It’s preferable the that spend the night there so you can take all the time in the world to enjoy this magnificent Safari.


Here is my video of Etosha National Park



I mentioned this at the beginning of this blog hoping that it wouldn’t be as bad this time and that there will be noticeable improvement but unfortunately, customer service remains HORRIBLE in Namibia, especially when the customer is black. A day before my depature, a store rep started a fight with me and my sister just because we asked her to assist us in the store…. Watch what transpired at #Safariland in Windhoek …… Namibian companies, please train/re-train your workers on how to deliver exceptional customer service…. Kudos to those who make customer service a priority.


Nonetheless…. As you can tell! I had the most amazing 5-week vacation in Southern Africa. Time went by too fast. Usually, I’m ready to get back home to the USA after the 3rd week as by that time, I have seen and done all that I needed to do during my visit. This time it was different. I believe it’s because I was traveling a lot inside and outside Namibia that I didn’t get to do everything I wanted. I didn’t visit Swakopmund, although I have been to Swakopmund before. Swakopmund is a coastal town of Namibia with the beach and the desert. It’s always a great place to visit. Here is a Swakopmund blast from the past:

Enjoying the beach in Swakopmund, Namibia
Quadbiking and horse riding in he Namib Desert in Swakopmund, Namibia

Furthermore, I didn’t get to do a full tour of Namibia and I didn’t get to spend as much time with most of my friends as most of my time was dedicated to spending it with family. But, there’s always a next time…. I thank God for traveling mercies and the wonderful time that I had and the people who made it special. Thank you!

Admiring Air Namibia in the background at Windhoek International Airport
Boarding Ethiopian Airlines back to Washington, DC via Addis Ababa
In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Apparently Addis Ababa is Africa’s Capital City….


Going outside Africa, I was at the nicer part of Addis Ababa Airport – the new airport..
Touch town Washington, DC, USA! I’m back home!

View all the Pictures here: https://flic.kr/s/aHskScbKnn

American Patriotism: Should you give President Donald J. Trump a chance?


As a black educated immigrant woman from Africa, I have been boxed me into a certain category of people in America. I’m supposed to think and act a certain way to fit in the box that people want to place me. However, as an Independent, I have a mind of my own and I can’t be boxed. Many people were surprised that I chose to attend and volunteer at the 58th Inauguration of President Donald J. Trump. I don’t belong to any political party and therefore I didn’t attend and volunteer for the Inauguration because I agree with everything Mr. Trump has said during his campaign. I disagree with him on quite a number of issues. However, I volunteered because of the love that I have for this country. Naturally, I tend to gravitate towards messages of hope, passion, patriotism, love and sacrifice for country. This may seem contradictory; after all, I’m a naturalized USA citizen living in the USA instead of another country that’s supposed to be my only home. But you see, I can’t be boxed into having just one home either because my story is different…..  I had no place to really call home until I became a USA citizen.

Happy to be of service to my country as a volunteer on this special day of transfer of power

I’m an exile child who was born in a refugee camp in Angola, by Namibian freedom fighters who were fighting to liberate their country from the apartheid regime in Namibia and South Africa. I lived in Angola until the apartheid war ended and went to Namibia for the first time with my parents. I lived in Namibia for one year and half before my family moved to London, England where I lived for five years. After living in London, my family moved to Washington, DC, USA where I lived with them until they left. I asked my dad to let me stay back at the age of 19, although I didn’t have any immediate family members in the USA. I didn’t have to work too hard to convince him. He asked me a few questions about how I plan to survive here all by myself. I gave him my game plan and due to the discipline and respectful way he raised me, he had enough faith in my ability to survive and stand strong in America, no matter what life throws at me. He gave me his blessings. I have now been living in this country for twenty years…  So you tell me, where’s home….?

At the Capitol building where the Inauguration was taking place
The US Capitol Building

Home is where the heart is. My heart is in America; my country of trials, tribulations and growth. This is not to say that I have forgotten my country of birth Angola or my country of descent Namibia. I love those countries dearly as well and I’m patriotic to them in their own right. I represent them as the unofficial Ambassador wherever I go. But still, my truth remains…. I remember saying a small prayer while in London, asking God to send me to America one day…. I believe America is the country that God lead me to from the war refugee camps of Angola. This is the country where He sustained me against all odds. And therefore, I have grown to love this country; we have a history together, we took care of each other. I couldn’t choose where I was born or where my parents were from, but I could choose a place to finally call home. It’s the love for my new found home that lead me to attend and volunteer on Inauguration Day. This was also the first time I attended Inauguration in America. It was an experience of a life time, especially seeing patriotism and love for country on display by citizens and politicians who don’t necessarily see eye to eye on issues, but they squashed their political differences that day to show their patriotism and love for country.




Let me back up for a minute… I have mentioned patriotism a lot in this blog but I’m not sure if it’s clear to everyone what I mean by American Patriotism. American Patriotism could mean different things to different people but at the core of everyone’s definition of the term is the love for country and its people, first and foremost. And this is the patriotism I’m referring to where American interests and the well-being of her citizens comes first, before any other country or any other person who’s not an American. As an immigrant from another country, I have always understood this and respected that Americans should be first in their own country. There’s no reason why there should be starving children in America without their basic needs being met, while the finances that could be used to help them is being redirected elsewhere. It’s the obligation of every country in the world to take care of its own citizens and if the leadership of that country fails to do that, it’s up to the citizens to rise up and hold their government accountable. It’s the only way to empower the people and ease the burden placed on other nations to chip in when they have their own homeland issues to deal with. I’m not saying countries shouldn’t help each other. They should, but not at the expense of their limited resources, creating another problem in their own backyard. No matter the political climate inside a country, if more governments were seriously held accountable by their empowered, non-complacent citizens, I believe each country will be better off and this world would be a much better place. Power belongs to the people, not governments.


With the people. Power to the people.

There’s a second part of American patriotism which is  a bit complicated because it involves values that could mean different things to different people based on their interpretation of the constitution and what the founders really meant when they wrote it. So I will not dwell on that. I’m talking about the core of American patriotism that unites us all based solely on love for our country and well-being of fellow Americans as a whole, on a national level. This patriotism is rooted in devoted love, sacrifice that transcends political ideology and personal values, where one is willing to defend the pride of their country at all cost and display true loyalty, no matter how disappointed they might be in the political climate of the country. They put personal feelings aside and rise up to serve their country so that she can be a shining example to the world and a beacon of hope. This is the patriotism that our men in uniform display on a daily basis, despite their political affiliation because they want to see the country move forward, succeed and continue to stand strong. That’s why I respect men in uniform; they embody true American patriotism. This is the type of loyalty that I believe every American citizen should uphold. I’m glad that on his first day in office on Friday January 20th, President Trump signed a bill declaring a National Day of Patriotism. It’s not clear yet when that day will be held but I look forward to celebrating American Patriotism on its National Day.

On Wednesday January 18th, 2017, feeling empowered as a patriotic citizen of this great country, I went for my training as a 58th Inauguration Committee Volunteer at the Washington, DC Convention Center. The well attended training covered our duties and what to expect at the Inauguration events. Out of 8000 volunteers who responded to the call, I was one of the 3000 who were approved to join the Inauguration Committee, after successfully passing a secret service background check. The three day Inaugural activities include Day One Thursday’s Pre-Inauguration:  Make America Great Again Welcome Concert, Day two Friday’s Inauguration Swear-In and Parade, Day three more Inauguration Balls and clearing out.

Attending volunteer training

I attended the Thursday concert which was very well attended and a strong show of American Patriotism like I have never see or experienced before. Songs like Proud to be an American, God bless America, gave me goose bumps as they were sang with so much passion, pride and gusto. Click on video below to hear the American patriotic songs and see the amazing fireworks:



At the Pre-Inauguration Day concert


The fireworks were amazing

My friends on Facebook warned me against attending Inauguration Day as I would be one of the very few black people there and that I should fear for my life. I’m not easily intimidated so I refused to live in fear. I believe that FEAR is False Evidence Appearing Real and it’s just a mental and emotional game that we can easily overcome if we don’t let it fester in our minds and hearts for long. So, I left my house without incident at 3:50am on Friday morning to catch the first 4am metro-train to downtown Washington, DC. My first stop was the GSA Federal government building to pick up my volunteer credentials and assignment. I also had breakfast that was provided for all volunteers, free of charge. I was assigned to work the Friday Inauguration Day event with a security pass that got me through all the major security check points, except inside the capitol building, but I was very close enough. This was my first time volunteering for such an event so I totally understood the tight security in place and why I was confined up to that point. I was grateful for the opportunity to serve America, Americans, and the new Administration and at the same witness the beautiful event. I was stationed right by the Capitol building where the swearing in was taking place. I greeted and assisted guests in every way possible, and ensured that they had a memorable experience. I was also an extra eye in case of any emergency situation that needed the police involvement. The people that I met that day were all wonderful and friendly. Many thanked me for volunteering. I believe they appreciated seeing me there because I was one of the very few people of color who volunteered and attended the event. Everyone appreciates diversity; we can’t encourage diversity by choosing to stay away due to our differences. I was happy to represent my people, those who didn’t support Donald Trump and those who did. At the core of every human being, there’s a good heart and a common goal. Watch the video below:

After the swear-in ceremony, I went to our volunteer headquarter in the GSA building where lunch was provided for us. I then went to help out at the Inauguration parade. It was a wonderful parade with a true display of American patriotism. It was also great to witness the parade performance by Talladega marching band from an African-American college who received a backlash for agreeing to perform at this inauguration. They did a great job and represented their college and community very well, despite the criticism that they got for willing to do participate. Although some of them didn’t support or agree with some of the things that Mr. Trump said in the past, in a show of true patriotism and service to country, they refused to bow down to peer pressure and bullying tactics. This touched the hearts of many of Trump supporters who donated more than $600,000, way above the $75,000 that the band needed to make the trip to Washington, DC to take part in the parade. The band got the loudest chair from the crowd, after President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.

The parade was beautiful!
The President’s Motorcade in the parade


When I was leaving to go home from the parade at around 630pm, after volunteering that day for more than 12 hours, an on duty African-American police officer on a motorcycle greeted me and I greeted him back. He asked me where I was coming from. He looked shocked and disappointed to learn that I attended the inauguration. He asked “you’re coming from where? You went to that?”  I said “yes.”…. He looked away in disbelief, and then he turned to look at me again. He asked why I would do such a thing as a person of color, a woman (and I’m sure the immigrant part crossed his mind too based on my accent). I was a bit surprised that a police office on inauguration duty wants to discuss politics with me. I decided to engage him and answered all his questions calmly, even though he got a bit heated when he cited race issues and Donald Trump. Our debate was very civil and he acknowledged the fact that I helped to keep him calm during our debate because usually discussions like this had become heated and uncivil. In his last days, President Obama did encourage us to engage one another and not shut out people who have different views from us. We were interrupted on three occasions by parade attendees who were asking the officer for directions home. The first interruption made the police upset although he did politely help them. It was two white ladies who cut him off in the middle of his sentence and said “excuse me, can you please tell us how to get to…” Soon after that, the police officer used that to validate a point he was making earlier about Trump white supporters and their apparent rudeness, arrogance and disregard for black people. Personally I didn’t see anything wrong because they politely said “Excuse me…” their question was a short and they could tell he was on duty and that I was not talking to him because I had a life threatening issue that couldn’t wait….

On the second occasion, we were interrupted by two Asians except they didn’t directly interrupt our discussion like the other previous ladies. The Asians stood there patiently looking at the officer and waited for him to address them and he did when he finished his sentence. An African-American guy did the same thing as the Asians; stood close by looking at the officer and waited to be addressed without saying a word. I took note of that and brought back the point the police officer was making initially when the white two ladies interrupted us by saying “Excuse me…” and that I still didn’t think they were intentionally being rude and disrespectful, and that it was probably just an upbringing and cultural difference between these three races. He smiled, not sure if he agreed or he just respected my ability to see the good in people and give everyone the benefit of a doubt….. Our civil debate lasted for what felt like an hour. He appreciated the debate and I did too. We both realized that despite our different views on the new Administration, we both loved this country and it helps to have an open mind.

The Capitol Building – Powerful building
The view of the crowd and the Washington Monument

I pointed out to him that our encounter may have been divine and not an accident. He agreed and proceeded to ask me for my number. I chuckled and kindly said I don’t think that’s the divine reason. He smiled. I then told him that I believe we needed to have this discussion as a sign of a new beginning politically. I asked him if he could release President Trump from the abhorrent that he has of him because hate for another person is too much a burden to bear. Who wants to carry that a heavy heart around? What good purpose will it serve? He nodded in agreement.  I asked him if he could forgive Donald Trump and start fresh on this first day of his Administration…. He smiled and said he would…. He then said that he thinks I’m a very beautiful woman. I thanked for him for his kind words and service to our nation.

On my way to catch the metro, my spirit told me to tell every officer I pass “Thank you” and I did just that when I got inside the train station and there were quite a number of them making sure that we got home safely. I went up to them, shook their hands and told them “Thank you for all that you do for us.” I could tell that they appreciated hearing that, especially after a long day like this of so many people and hundreds of protesters who vandalized the city in protest of President Donald J. Trump. Personally I didn’t see any violent protesters that day because the protesters were stationed far from the inauguration site due to super tight security. I got home safely without incident. It was a beautiful and amazing day. I will cherish my experience at this inauguration and if I have to do it again, I would, for any government Administration because I’m Independent and I see past political party lines. I weigh both sides of the story first, with an open mind, before forming my own conclusions.

One more thing I should point out. Before I became a USA Citizen, I was always amazed at the love that Americans had for their country. This is the only country in the world where I saw many people proudly waving and flying the USA flag while inside the country, without there being a special national event. I have not seen that anywhere else in the parts of the world where I have been. In Namibia, for example, the only time you see citizens proudly waving and flying a Namibian flag is at official government and national events such as Independence Day or international sports competitions. Otherwise the only flag you see being passionately displayed by the citizens inside the country is their political party flags such as SWAPO and DTA flags….. This is not to say that these citizens love their country any less. You would never see the citizens of those countries burning their country flags to show disappointment like you see Americans doing. I’m sure most citizens of the world see this and frown upon it because it’s quite embarrassing and hurtful to see considering the fact that the flag represents the country that you claim to love. You don’t burn down and destroy what you love, no matter the circumstances because love covers a multitude of sins. May those without sin cast the first stone at President Donald J. Trump, who has certainly said hurtful things to some people. Or would you forgive him, for the love of country and give him a chance to make our country great again or greater (if you believe it’s already great)? Not to excuse anything that Mr. Trump may have said to hurt your feelings, but I hope you release him from the hurt and pain that he caused you. Doesn’t everyone deserve a second chance…?

I believe it’s in our best interest as American citizens to unite as one people, with a common goal to see this country at its peak. We all benefit when the country is doing extremely well and the basic needs of every citizen are met.  For the love of this country, I will be praying for the new Administration and I hope you will too. If President Trump fails, we all fail. When he succeeds, we all succeed.…..

I’m Independent and have no loyalty to any political party… Who knows who I will support next time. This time around. I chose to give President Trump and VP Pence a chance….


Why you should visit Rio de Janeiro, Brazil! I had a Blast!

This trip was not planned. It was one of those impromptu trips made with an attempt to get away and escape all the “noise and nonsense” I was going through at the time. I needed to get away so I called my cousin in Rio and asked him if I could finally pay him a visit…. With his trip blessing, I went online and bought my ticket. I wasn’t looking forward to anything in particular, I just wanted to get away….  Brazil was not in my top 5 countries to visit anytime soon, but it was the easiest place I could go to at the time mainly because I had a wonderful cousin there who would make sure that I had a great time and also because as a Namibian citizen living in the USA, I didn’t need a visa to travel to Brazil. I could just pick up and go….

I departed on Monday August 15th at 350pm (Washington, DC time) via Miami and arrived at 9:05am (Rio time).On Average, the trip was about 12hrs25mins. A bit long but I’m used to long flights. My cousin Dragon and his friend Nuuyoma picked me up from the airport. Everything looked quite small in Rio compared to what I was used to in America. The cars were smaller, the road narrower but the city looked beautiful and breathtaking… My heart smiled knowing that I was in for a treat…!

View of Rio from the mountain top

Rio de Janeiro is one of the most populated cities in the world and the second largest city in Brazil. It’s considered a metro city built around the largest tropical forest in the world, the Tijuca Forest. The forests surrounding Rio gives it a tropical climate resulting in a warm and humid climate most of the year. For those planning to travel to Rio, the weather makes a difference to your vacation experience. I went in August, which is considered winter in Rio, although you can still walk around the city in your bikini and flip-flops. Compared to the winters of America, the weather was the perfect. It was nice and warm very warm and didn’t feel like winter at all. But it did rain quite a bit, limiting my daily trips to the beach. It also tends to get cloudy in the winter; especially on the mountain top. The winter cloudiness affected my view of the “Jesus Statue” the day I went to see it (I could barely see anything… More on that below)…. So future Rio travelers, it’s worth noting that summer season starts from the month of December and lasts until February, where the temperatures are a little high with low humidity and rainfall is expected. For those who don’t like too much heat, the best time to visit Rio is during the winter season, around the time I went, from July to September. As I mentioned before, Winter in Rio is perfect, compared to the winter in the Washington, DC (USA) where I live, because in the day, it is quite warm with plenty of sunlight perfect for the beach and sightseeing in Rio.


Before I go any further, it is worth noting Rio de Janeiro’s interesting history…. It was actually Brazil’s first capital city when Brazil gained its independence from Portugal 1889. Yes, Brazil is a Portuguese speaking country and you should probably learn a few Portuguese words to help you get around because most/99% of las cariocas (local Rio people) don’t speak English. For all the two weeks I was there, I only encountered about three las cariocas who could speak some words of English but they were not fluent. The language barrier would have been a problem if I didn’t have my non-Brazilian cousin and friends who spoke both English and Portuguese fluently. Sorry I digressed… Where was I…? Yes, the capital city of Brazil later moved from Rio to Brasilia in 1960 to reduce the economic and financial pressure that was placed on Rio as the capital city. Sao Paolo is now the capital city of Brazil.

As Brazil’s top-notch tourist destination, Rio certainly lived up to its nickname Cidade Maravilhosa, which means Marvelous City. The city, which is mostly well known for its beaches, samba music, carnivals and football (soccer), is mainly made up of seas, mountains and forests. This diversity adds to its breathtaking beauty of white sandy beaches, towering mountains and scenic environment. Because Rio is surrounded by beaches, mountains, and has some of the world’s most famous landmarks, including one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Many say that it’s the most beautiful city in Brazil… I can’t make that judgement call (yet) because it’s the only city I have visited in Brazil….

Feeling at home in Copacabana

My street intersection in Rio, right by Copacabana Beach
View from my condo balcony, overlooking the beach
Inside the beautiful and spacious condo… I wish I could own one of these in Rio….
The major hotel in Rio, right near where I was staying… Copacabana Palace

I had the privilege of staying in one of Rio’s best neighborhoods, Copacabana, at a condo right across from Copacabana beach and a few blocks from the world famous Copacabana Palace Hotel. Copacabana is a hotspot for tourists from around the world and it is located in the South Zone of the city. It’s considered to be one of the culturally richer neighborhoods in Rio because it’s filled with bars, restaurants and upscale hotels.

Fun at Copacabana Beach

Copacabana Beach – View from my balcony
Hanging out with my girl at the beach….
Copacabana Beach
Having a great time at the beach…



Enjoying the coconut….

I’m a beach girl so you know I was in heaven with these beaches in my backyard. I spent most of my time at Copacabana beach which was literally across the street from where I was staying. Such peace and serenity! Now I understand why many world travelers are attracted to Rio because of its famous beaches like Copacabana and Ipanema. Copacabana beach is located on the Atlantic shore. The beautiful view to the left of Copacabana beach is the towering mountain of Sugar Loaf and Fort Duque de Caxias built in 1779. Ipanema beach is a wealthier to Copacabana beach because it’s in a richer neighborhood. The beach is famous for water sports and is considered to be the best urban beach in the world. After seeing and experiencing these beaches, I understand the hype! The beaches never sleep. Visitors soak up the sun, take naps, play beach soccer and volleyball, exercise on the beach-gym equipment and dance like there’s no tomorrow….

Party in Lapa

You can’t be a true party girl and not dance the night away at the street party in Lapa. It’s the only neighborhood in Rio that will give you a real taste of the nightlife in Rio. It’s a party district conveniently and historically located downtown Rio. I have never seen so many people dancing and having so much in the street. Everyone was so happy and friendly. It was definitely a great experience. I recommend that all party-animals make this their first party stop in Rio.

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View of Lapa street party from one of the clubs in Lapa…
They were drumming Samba and I joined in with a dance…
I have no idea who these people were; we connected via music and dance!
Lapa – So many people partying in the street! Awesome experience!
I found my party home in Rio… Stoked!

Visiting Rio’s Tourist Attractions

Sugar Loaf Mountain and Cable Car

I enjoyed my trip to Sugar Loaf which is a 395 meter Tall Mountain named after the traditional sugarloaves, and located at the Guanabar Bay in the Atlantic Ocean. From the mountain top, you can see a spectacular view of Rio. I arrived at the mountain top with a 2-3 minute ride on cable car, but some visitors preferred to put their mountain climbing skills to good use by climbing the mountain instead. The Sugar loaf cable car was launched in 1912 and it’s one of the oldest in world and the first one in Brazil. The cable car makes stops at three stations: Praia Vermelha, Morro da Urca and Pão de Açucar, which are connected by four cable cars.

Outside Sugar loaf entrance point…
Sugar loaf depicted… In line to see the actual Sugarloaf
Some visitors climbing Sugar loaf
I preferred to take the Cable car instead….
Inside the Sugar loaf cable car
View of Rio from the cable car








Christ the Redeemer

I hope my avid world travelers out there didn’t freak out when I failed to call the “Jesus Statue” earlier by its’ official name. I know the name; I just wanted to strategically mention it here. The statue Christ the Redeemer (Cristo Redentor, in Portuguese) is a 30 meters/98 feet tall depiction of Jesus Christ and part of the new edition of the Seven Wonders of the World. I got to the statue by riding through the Tijuca forest National Park on a tourist bus which dropped us off at the tram station where we took the twenty-minute free tram ride to the top of the 700 meters/2,300 feet tall Corcovado Mountain where the statue sits. It was a sight to be beheld. However, we could barely see the statue that day because it was a cloudy and foggy winter day. It’s possible to see the statue in the winters, just not on a cloudy and foggy day. So that was a bummer. Nonetheless, the statue gives a powerful impression that Jesus is actually watching over Rio and blessing the city….




The day we went, it was foggy at the very top, we could barely see the statue…



Cathedral of Rio de Janeiro

Brazil is a catholic country, as is the case with most countries in South America. Therefore, I couldn’t leave without visiting one of the city’s tourist attractions, the Cathedral of Rio de Janeiro. The Cathedral has a beautiful interior and has a standing room capacity of 20,000 people.




The Maracanã Stadium

I love football (soccer) and watching the world cup games! I played soccer in the Soccer for Jesus League in the USA and my church team won the most championships in the league. Soccer is Brazil’s national sport and lies at the heart of their culture. So with my love for soccer and the hype around the 2014 World Cup in Rio, I had to visit the most famous soccer stadium in the world; the Maracanã Stadium. The stadium was officially inaugurated during the 1950 World Cup with a capacity of 100,000 fans. At one point, it was the largest soccer stadium in the world.





Unfortunately, Rio is not all bliss. On my way from seeing the Jesus Statue, we passed by shanty towns/slums called Favelas, where people live in abject poverty. Rio is well known for its favelas where 23-24% of its residents live. Rio has more favelas than any other cities in Brazil. The favelas are also considered as tourist attractions so I hope the proceeds from tourists also benefit those who live in the favelas……


Best ways to Get Around in Rio….

How did I get around Rio, you may be wondering…. Public Transportation! Rio is a fairly easy to navigate because it has an efficient metro system which includes trains and buses. It also has a bike-sharing system, taxis and I’m sure Uber/Lyft probably operates there now.  You have to research that…. Although it’s expensive and most don’t recommend it, you can rent a car and drive yourself around…. The best thing about using public transportation is that you can to really experience and see the city and get a chance to mingle with the local people….


On the bus…
The subway station in Copacabana where I was staying…C. Arcoverae
Inside the subway station



Riding the train/subway
Enjoying the bus ride


In the taxi…
Hard corn on the cob; my favorite!!! It’s hard to find them this nice and hard in the USA…

The Food in Rio is GREAT

Yes, I managed to find time to eat! In fact, I ate way too much because the food was just OH SO GOOD!!! And it didn’t help that my favorite restaurant in Rio, Copa Grill, was a few doors from where I was staying. I had to run at the beach every morning for at least one hour to avoid putting on weight. I don’t know how they prepare their food, but coming from America, it tasted out of this world! Either their food is just so good, or America’s food is just too bad. I learned that food in Rio is a mix of Indian, African and European ingredients. It’s mostly prepared using techniques that originate from the native people and the adaptations made by the African slaves and the Portuguese using local ingredients. The food tastes so real and rich. I wonder if it’s 100% organic because it tastes like it…..

Home made lunch with my cousin
I ate here A LOT while in Rio… Delicious food!









Exercising while in Rio

No wonder almost everyone looks great in Rio. The environment supports a healthy-fit lifestyle. Rio embraces sports as much as it does samba, the beaches and the sunny weather. Fitness on the Beach keeps everyone in good shape. All throughout the day, you see people jogging and running down the beach, cycling with a stunning view of the Atlantic, playing soccer and volleyball on the beach and elsewhere, working out at outdoor gyms that are stationed all over Rio in almost every neighborhood and along the beaches. It’s not rare to find a group exercise class taking place on Copacabana beach.







Samba School Parties: Getting a taste of Carnival in Rio

When you think of Rio, what comes to your mind first and foremost…? You got it, CARNIVAL (Carnaval in Portuguese)! No doubt, Rio is mostly known for its exhilarating carnival which features samba music and dances, and colorful costumes. The carnival is considered to be the largest in the world with two million people per day on the streets during the carnival. I didn’t get to attend the Carnival because it takes place every year before lent, usually in February or early March, but I went in August.  But I did visit the purpose-built parade-venue where the Carnival takes place every year, called the Sambadrome. I also got a chance to attend parties at Rio Samba schools, whose main objective is to rehearse and prepare to compete in the annual Carnival. Samba schools are not samba teaching institutions as the name implies. They are simply associations or clubs representing a particular neighborhood in Rio. At these monthly parties, the schools host parties to showcase their work and new dances, with live samba music/bands. I got the closest experience I could get of Rio Carnival at the Samba schools where I perfected my samba dance moves. I particularly fell in love with the samba dance style by men. I LOVED watching them dance samba. They do it so skillfully, with swag and a certain playfulness that I can’t quite describe…. The women dance it very well too and as a dancer myself, I appreciate dances and dancers from all over the world, but there’s nothing more remarkable than a man who can really DANCE, effortlessly….!


Outside one of the major Samba Schools in Rio
Samba dancers performing
Live samba band




Shopping in Rio

I hate shopping unless it involves actively listening to music and dancing. So shopping in Rio was not on my To Do list. I left my tennis shoes/sneakers in the USA and I needed them to teach a free Zumba class I was offering at the Rio YMCA. We went around to different places but I couldn’t find the tennis shoes I wanted so I settled for those takkies (as they call them in Namibia and South Africa). So yes, there are plenty of regular malls to shop in Rio. I’m sure if you look hard enough, you will eventually have better luck at finding what you’re looking for, at the right price. Rio is an expensive city after all just so you….

My favorite part of shopping in Rio was visiting the markets. The markets are a great way to experience Rio. There are different types of markets spread around in the city. I lived across from the street from The Night Market in Copacabana which sets up between Rua Bolivar and Rua Sá Ferreira, close to Posto 6 and operates Monday to Saturday from 6pm to midnight. This is a souvenir and beach wear market catering to tourists visiting Copacabana. This is where I bought all my Brazilian beach wear that you see in the pictures, and other souvenirs.

I had the pleasure of visiting one of the largest, if not the largest and vibrant markets in the north part of Rio, Feira de São Cristóvão, also known as Feira Nordestina.  The market which attracts 300,000 visitors each month is housed in a sports-stadium-like venue which has about 700 stalls, bars, restaurants, dance floors, stages, shops, beauty salons, and so forth with an emphasis on fun and having a great time. I felt the party atmosphere as soon as I entered the market because it was very lively, crowded, and it looked lively and everyone was enjoying the food, music, arts, craft and traditions from the Northeast of Brazil. I enjoyed the food, live concerts and dancing Forró.

I also went to another market called Mercadão de Madureira, one of the largest markets in Brazil which caters to the average working Brazilian. It has more than 580 stores and is filled with locals engaging in their everyday business. You won’t find expensive designer brands at this market.  I went there to see if I could find a company that could make my athletic apparel, Valentina Apparel as a reasonable price since they generally have a variety of items at really low prices. I made some contacts as far as my athletic apparel but they didn’t work out in the end so I’m still looking…

At the Mall…. Outside my store in Rio… ;-). I was excited to see a store with my name (Rachel is my first name, Valentina is my second name)!
At the market
Feira de Sao Cristovao/Feira Nordestina Market


Inside the market

Dancing Forro
Concert inside the market


Inside the market

Chilling and relaxing with new friends

When I wasn’t going around Rio, I was home or at a neighborhood bar hanging out with friend although I don’t drink. My favorite home pastime activity was playing a mathematical strategy card game called Casino. The game is played with 2-4 players. I have been playing Casino since I was about 8 years old so this is my favorite card game. I can play it all day and do a victory dance every time I or my game partner and I win the game. It’s the best card game in the world.


Playing Casino, my favorite card game


This game is addictive… It’s a lot of fun!
Bragging: 2-0! We kept winning!
The undefeated champs in Casio-Rio division! LOL!
If I hear good music playing… I’m dancing to it! No other way around it!
Never stop dancing….


Other Rio/Brazil Interesting observations…


Cariocas – The local people of Rio are called Cariocas. While interacting with them, despite the language barrier, I found them to be friendly and good-natured people. One just has to be careful because some of them are good at pick-pocketing, although I haven’t had anything stolen from me while there….

Hanging out downtown Rio – Business and Financial District



Porn Advertising Phone booths– I was a bit shocked that it was lawful to advertise porn in public phone booths all around the city. I have never seen this anywhere else but no one else seemed to care….



Porn phone booths in Rio

Black people in Brazil – It’s interesting to note that that Brazil has the 2nd largest population of black people in the world (after Nigeria).

Watching capoeira …

Kids at Adult Parties – I was also surprised to see small kids out on their own partying with adults both at Lapa and also at Samba schools and it seemed perfectly okay with everyone there….

Kids at adult party

I could go on all day about Rio but I have to stop here…. Although I wasn’t particularly excited about going to Rio and the trip was unplanned, I’m so glad I went as it turned out to be one of my best and special vacations. It was a memorable two week vacation….. I left Rio at 810pm and arrived in Washington, DC at 1025am on August 29th, 2011. I highly recommend Rio as a perfect travel destination. It’s the first place I visited where I actually got emotional when I was leaving. I made such a special connection with the city and its people that I felt like I was leaving a part of myself behind….. When I got back to the States, I was rejuvenated and more focused. The situation that I ran away from by going to Rio, seemed to have disappeared when I got back and set my life back in motion and on the right track….. Sometimes when your world gets overwhelming, you just need to get away from all the “noise” to refocus and find yourself again…. Rio de Janeiro, I thank you….!

I hope this blog post inspires your next exciting and adventurous escapade (vacation)….!

With love,

Chica Valentina

Relaxing on the Balcony of the condo I was staying overlooking Copacabana Beach

See more pictures from my Rio vacation here: https://flic.kr/s/aHskXbkAVH

New Year Reflections… 2016 was a great year! Welcome 2017!

2016 was a special year for me….. In fact, it was a great year. I didn’t get to accomplish all my 2016 goals but I tried and got most of them accomplished. The incomplete ones have been forwarded to 2017….I need to make sure that I don’t put too much on my plate in 2017…. However, I’m thankful to God for the many blessings in 2016 and to the people who helped to make it special and wonderful year. Instead of partying my way into 2017, decided to pass up that up, and instead enter 2017 quietly and safely at home with my family… A little before the clock hit midnight 2017, feeling at peace, relaxed, content and focused, I decided to blog some of my 2016 Highlights and here they are:

February 2016: Moved into my dream home and neighborhood downtown Silver Spring, MD (Washington, DC area)

Downtown Silver Spring, MD, USA

Continue reading New Year Reflections… 2016 was a great year! Welcome 2017!