Fort Mose Historic State Park ~ St. Augustine, Florida

St. Augustine is well known for being the oldest city in the U.S and a popular field trip destination for all 4th graders in the state of Florida. Most defined by its Spanish architecture tourist to St. Augustine often spend time visiting landmarks such as Castillo de Marcos, the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime Museum, St Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park, Ponce de Leon's Fountain of Youth, its distillery, and may I mention St. Augustine's ghost tours, but less is known about Fort Mose Historic State Park, the first legally sanctioned free African American settlement in the U.S. The history of this site dates back to 1688 when Negro slaves from the English colonies in the Carolina found refuge in the Spanish St. Augustine close to the site of a Spanish mission for the "Indians" (Native Americans) left homeless after Queen Anne's war. In 1693, Spain's King Charles II proclaimed that any English slave who reached Spanish Florida would be granted freedom upon conversion to Catholicism. Originally named Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose, on March 15, 1738, Governor Manuel de Montiano freed over 100 slaves in the name of the Spanish king in this religious sanctuary. It has been noted by several to be the precursor site to the National Underground Railroad Network for these slaves who would cultivate the land and learn Catholicism. For their security and protection a moated earthwork of a community was erected as a defense outpost two miles north of St. Augustine called Fort Mose. FORT MOSE I ~ A multicultural community, the inhabitants of Fort Mose were originally from West and Central Africa as well as some Native Americans. In 1759, militiamen at Fort Mose self identified as belonging to four distinct African ethnic groups: the Mandinga, Carabali*,Congo and Mina groups. Perhaps the most popular resident of Fort Mose, Francisco Menendez was a literate Mandinga who fought in the Yamasee War of 1715-16 against the English of the Carolina/Georgia. Another survivor of that war and resident of Fort Mose was Francisco Garzia…

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A Day in Savannah, Georgia – Visiting Telfair Museums and much more…

Savannah, the first city in Georgia has a recorded history which dates back to 1733. It had been 20years since I last visited this coastal city and last month we had the opportunity to visit Savannah for a junior USTA tennis tournament on a 3 day weekend. Savannah has such a charm and historic vibe as evidenced from the old oak and magnolia trees to the Spanish moss. Visitors come to check out this scene unique for its architecture, the parks and squares not to mention the southern cuisine. With only a few hours in a day and several children of varying ages we chose to visit Forsyth park and the Telfair museums in between tennis matches played at the Savannah Yacht club. Forsyth Park Named after the 33rd governor of Georgia, John Forsyth, this 30acre park has something for for every age and interest. We were fortunate to visit on a Saturday morning when it hosts several vendors and artists during its farmers' market hours. Food vendors from meats, to coffees and artists from painters to violinists gave a park a more than lively atmosphere as we walked through. The center of attraction for us was the water fountain not to far from the playgrounds. On first glance, this water fountain looks like one you would see in a European promenade but the striking difference was the water was green. After a lot of scientific guesses involving algae and bacteria we learned the simple reason was every year in celebration of St. Patrick's day the water is dyed green! There is a restaurant on park property, Collins Quarter at Forsyth, which is very popular with indoor and outdoor seating available. It is located in the same building where there are public restrooms. Recreation is the name of the game with basketball courts, wide open fields where one can play football, practice yoga or have a picnic spread. The girls immediately took to the tennis courts which did not require any reservations but limited use to an hour in the…

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Limbe, Cameroon – A stroll along the coast!

In writing this post I feel this post is incomplete. After 13 years, we revisited the coastal city of Limbe in Cameroon and a day trip did not do it justice. With the ongoing COVID pandemic, travel is not what it used to be and with Cameroon hosting the African Cup of Nations in a few days from our visit, there was much preparation with road construction between Douala and Limbe. Between the road detours and increased traffic after the Christmas holidays, a day trip was not enough time to revisit all those places Mark and I had enjoyed so many years ago. After hiring a driver and vehicle, we loaded up the van with all the kids and left Douala on a 90minute drive for an afternoon in Limbe visiting the beach and family. The drive was visually stunning particularly for the children as we drove past rubber plantations, palm nut farms, with the rolling hills in the shadow of Mount Cameroon and views of the coastline on the other side of the road. It was a great opportunity to talk about the processes involved in rubber and palm oil manufacturing. We went through Limbe town to the closest beach, down beach. Down beach is most popular for the outdoor restaurants where fresh fish is grilled along the shores accompanied by roasted plantains. We stopped here for a quick look around before meeting family for lunch at Hot Spot Restaurant which is located in the Limbe Botanical Gardens. This two minute mini vlog from our you tube channel brings these scenes to life. https://youtu.be/WIlITCKY3uc Day Trip To Limbe! LIMBE BOTANICAL GARDEN This botanical garden is home to a variety of plants and beautiful flowers. It is designed more like a park one can walk through. 13years ago Mark and I stayed at a lodge on the property which has since expanded to include a swimming pool and restaurant. We did choose to dine at Hot Spot where we would have a clear view of the Atlantic coast while we…

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Top Five Things to do with Kids in Nairobi
The Giraffe Center - Nairobi National Park

Top Five Things to do with Kids in Nairobi

Between January and June of 2021, Kenya recorded 49,000 tourists from the United States. Nairobi is a city well known for its National Parks, bustling way of life and developing infrastructure. For families traveling with young children, there are a lot of options for entertainment and learning. After our recent trip to Kenya's capital city we have a list of top 5 activities we recommend for children ages 5 and up. #1. The Giraffe Center Located 40minutes from the city center, the Giraffe Center (African Fund For Endangered Wildlife) is without a doubt a fun visit for children. Established 41years ago, the center focuses on protection of the endangered Rothschild giraffe subspecies, conservation of youth education programs and partnering with other organizations toward the conservation of flora and fauna in Kenya and East Africa. The center is currently under construction in phases but remains open to the public for a reasonable fee. The giraffes can be seeing strolling about freely about the park and occasionally stopping by the fence to be fed while they slobber all over their visitors. Right next to the giraffe center is the popular Giraffe Manor where guests who stay overnight can have breakfast on their balcony with giraffes walking up to the balcony to get fed - truly a sight to watch. There is a gift shop on site and educational building which can be toured for more information on the endangered species. Estimated timeframe to visit is 45minutes-1hour so get ready to get slobbered! #2. Nairobi National Museum In the middle of the hustle and bustle of the city is this well kept secret. The Nairobi National Museum could easily be three separate museums. You can do a self guided tour or have a tour guide with you. There are several sections within the museum. The first section we walked through was dedicated to Kenyan cultures and traditions. There is a section of natural history with taxidermy native to the country. The next exhibit gave an extensive history lesson on the history of currency…

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Nairobi – Sights Beyond the City (2014)

I have found one of the best ways to explore a new place is to visit when you have someone living there. In 2014, Mark and I had an in- law living in China when we visited Shanghai. Later that year, I would do the same when I visited Nairobi, Kenya and stayed with my sister who lived there at the time. That November, while visiting family in Cameroon, I traveled from Douala to Nairobi for a short 4day visit with my sister. It was a direct flight and 4hours later, I landed at the Jomo Kenyatta airport where I processed through health clearance for Hepatitis A/Yellow fever and was issued a single-entry visa. It was so lovely getting to visit with my sister, and she had a few days and a fully booked calendar to include much tourist activity. There are so many positive things I could highlight about my trip and many memorable moments we shared but I will highlight three attractions in this blog post. Crescent Island Game Sanctuary This wildlife reserve is located on Lake Naivasha in the Great Rift Valley of Kenya. It is home to a variety of birds, hippos, zebras, giraffes, impalas, and wildebeest. To access this walking safari, one must cross the lake by boat. The sanctuary is about 10km from the town of Naivasha and a 2hour drive from Nairobi. The drive was quite scenic with a stop in route at the beautiful lookout point of Mount Longonot. Once we arrived Crescent Island and paid fees for entry and boat ride, we had a guided walking safari of several wildlife present. This safari allowed us to get a close as possible to the animals and birds. There was a covered patio and one could take a break and have some refreshments after the walking tour. Crescent Island is famous for being the filming location for “Out of Africa” and the sequel to “Tomb Raider”. Check out the pics below. Mount LongonotViews of Lake NaivashaSanctuary And yes, we found the jawbone and…

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High bluffs and scenic views! Torreya State Park~

Four months after the 2020 pandemic “shut down”, we visited Torreya State Park. Located about 65miles from home, this park is accessible off Interstate-10 and FL state route 12, both of which we had driven multiple weekends on our way to track meets and tennis tournaments mostly in Tallahassee. I had been told the park had trails of varying difficulty and high bluffs for scenic views of the Apalachicola River. With no tennis tournaments or track meets happening due to the “lock down”, one Saturday morning, we decided to go for hike at Torreya state park with our family friends, the Dunlaps. Park entranceBesties ready to goHiking crew of 14! Torreya state park is approximately 13,700 acres big located north of S.R. 12 overlooking the Apalachicola River, 13 miles north of Bristol in Northwest Florida. The park is named after an extremely rare species of the Torreya tree which grows only on the bluffs over the Apalachicola river. The park was developed by the Civilian Conservation Corp in 1930s. It is a National natural landmark and historic site with the Gregory House which was built in 1849 overlooking the river. During the period of the Civil War about 200 Confederate soldiers called these high bluffs home for about two years. At the time of our visit, the Gregory House was closed but as of May 6, 2021, it is open to daily tours at 10am on weekdays and 10am and 2pm on weekends and state holidays. It is limited to 8 persons at a time and physical distancing is required between households. For more about the historical significance of the Gregory House click here. The Gregory House The park is open from 8am to sunset and the entrance fee is $3 per vehicle. It is very popular for camping, kayaking, birdwatching, and picnicking. There are campgrounds for tents and RVs but also yurt camping and cabins are available on site. After hurricane Michael, the landscape of the park has changed. There are fallen tree trunks and felled wood along the…

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BEYOND AFRICA – MEXICO TWO WAYS. THE FOLK ART AND MYTHIC ON LAND….. Part 1!

RE-POST from January 2021............It is another Google photos moment when you get those pics from this time of the year so many years ago. And so it was two days ago when I received collages of our whereabouts in January 2015. It was this weekend 6years ago, we made our first trip to Mexico. I found some interesting research on the African diaspora in Mexico which suggested there was a small number of the population identify themselves as part of the African diaspora mostly in Veracruz, Costa Chica Guerrero, Costa Chica Oaxaca and some smaller cities in northern Mexico. There are varying accounts as to the most likely ways the diaspora migrated to the area with some accounts involving the relocation of blacks from North America and other Central American countries. In any case, we had decided toward the end of 2014, we were ready for some rest and recreation and once we came across a great deal on tickets and accommodations, we were going to Mexico! It was the weekend of Martin Luther King Jr. holiday in 2015 that we visited the Hacienda Tres Rios Resort on the Maya Riviera on Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula. All packed and ready the night before, we left town the following day after work with our oldest two children and a third "bun in the oven". This was a 3 day, 4-night vacation. Our itinerary had us laying over in Mexico City from Atlanta and then onward to Cancun. Navigating the airport in Mexico City on a layover felt like following directions on a busy street in New York City before the pandemic. It was clearly one of the most populous cities in the world. Yet another short flight and we were in Cancun that evening and with prearranged transportation we arrived safely at the resort in approximately a 30 minutes. Late that evening at the resort, we checked into our suite and retired for the night. The next morning, we were up early to explore the grounds. The Hacienda Tres Rios has guided…

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Of Gold, Bravery and Nobility ~ Discovering Puerto Rico

Most of us who live in the coastal United States are familiar with the planning and preparation involved during hurricane season every year. More than 41% of all hurricanes which make landfall in the Unites States are in the state of Florida. Florida is so prone to hurricanes such that it gets twice as many hurricanes than the next hurricane prone state which is Texas. By sheer numbers, most of us who live in the sunshine state will at some point experience the impact and consequences of a devastating hurricane as we did in the Florida Panhandle on October 10, 2018 with Hurricane Michael and those living on the island of Puerto Rico a year earlier with Hurricane Maria. Florida panhandle post hurricane MichaelPuerto Rico post hurricane Maria  Six weeks after the hurricane hit Panama City, still in shock from the extent of the devastation around us, we traveled to Puerto Rico for some well needed R & R. We would travel from Panama City, Florida to meet with some family friends, the Jimenez family, who also live in Panama City and were vacationing the same week as we were in Puerto Rico. I was curious to see how much recovery had taken place on the island which experienced a similar event as we did on the Gulf Coast of Florida only 13 months earlier. In addition, I was interested in visiting this island whose name and history conveyed its richness centuries ago when discovered by the Spanish settlers who sought after its gold or in bravery and nobility as demonstrated by its original Taino settlers from which the word “Boriqua” used to describe a person native to Puerto Rico is derived. We took a direct flight to the island from Orlando and our friends were ready to pick us up at the baggage claim section at the airport.  Once we picked up our luggage and cleared customs, we drove west from the Luis Munoz Marin International Airport to the Santurce neighborhood where we were immediately immersed in the artistic…

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The Tamarind: A tree well-traveled

When the roots are deep there is no reason to fear the wind - African proverb Having spent most of my childhood in Africa and acquired a fair knowledge of African cuisine and culture, I was blown away by what I did not know about the most widely distributed fruit tree of the tropics, the tamarind tree. Indigenous to tropical Africa, Tamarindus indica, has been cultivated for centuries on the Indian subcontinent and is often reported to have originated there. From India, it spread to Persia and Arabia where it is referred to as the “tamar hindi” (Indian date) and it derived its specific name “indica” which further lends to the illusion of Indian origin. It is now understood to be native to Africa and grows wild in sub-Saharan African countries such as Sudan, Cameroon, Nigeria, Kenya, Zambia, Somalia, Tanzania, and Malawi. India remains the largest producer of tamarind in the world at present time. The Tamarind - Fruit within shell (Photo credit: Taste of Home) The tamarind fruit hanging from tree (Photo credit: souschef.co.uk) The tamarind has a vast array of uses world over from cooking, baking, juices and drinks, with cultural and spiritual rituals, and beliefs surrounding this peculiar tree, fruit and seed. With a sweet and sour or tangy taste, I learned it is a key ingredient in Worchestershire sauce! I must confess I do not remember seeing a tamarind tree or its fruit used for any of these purposes in Cameroon, but given my Caribbean roots, my curiosity was peaked when I learned the tamarind drink is popular in Jamaica and other parts of the Caribbean. Even though I remember drinking a locally made tamarind drink while in Senegal, I had never seen it made or knew what ingredients were used in making this drink. The tamarind is called "daahar" in wolof, the most commonly spoken language in Senegal, and it has been suggested this word is associated with the origin of the name of Senegal's capital city, Dakar. This tree has long been naturalized in…

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