The Oil Palm: Memories Uncovered

In composing the first blog post of the year, it had to be about something defining – something which identifies the reasons why I blog and fuels my passion for writing and sharing! It was only a year ago, when we were all walking through what hashed my memories of a palm tree plantation. We were on vacation in Cameroon, in the rural parts of the Littoral province. On this day during our family vacation, we drove 1.5hours from Littoral to the South-West Province and one could not help but notice along the route, farms and plantations covered in these palm trees, more specifically, the oil palm, Elaeis guineensis. We reached our destination and met with family that afternoon. After a quick meal, we walked through the yard with several palm trees. The oil palm species grows in the tropics, both wildly and cultivated, within 10degrees latitude of the equator in Africa, South/Central America, and Southeast Asia. Data collected and analyzed over time confirms the center of its origin and diversity to be in the tropical rainforests of west and central Africa. The "palm belt" of Africa runs from Guinea to Zanzibar and Madagascar and from Senegal to south of Angola. As I draft this post, I am cheered by vivid childhood memories of riding with my grandfather through an oil palm plantation accompanied by uncles, aunts, in the back of a truck. As an agriculturalist, he frequently went to survey and assess the farm work being done on his estate. These trips were filled with a naïve youthful excitement as the truck navigated windy, bumpy routes. I would listen to stories told by my seniors, full of folklore, and metaphors; stories interrupted by gasps as the branches of the palm trees brushed and beat about us more frequently the further and deeper, we got into the plantation. When I was eight years old, I learned soap could be made from palm oil, and was able to observe that process on a small scale. I watched the extraction of crude…

Continue Reading The Oil Palm: Memories Uncovered

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…

Continue Reading Fort Mose Historic State Park ~ St. Augustine, Florida

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. 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…

Continue Reading Limbe, Cameroon – A stroll along the coast!
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…

Continue Reading Top Five Things to do with Kids in Nairobi

A walk in Conservation Park

This year, spring break was anything but ordinary. Without any concrete travel plans, we defaulted to a "staycation" where we visited different sites and establishments in our hometown. With Panama City Beach being a top beach destination, we have always found a lot of options to recreate and entertain closer to home. I was therefore not surprised to find TripAdvisor named Panama City Beach as the No.2 “Emerging Destination” in the world as its Travelers Choice 2021 Best of the Best Awards. Naturally, most tourists come for the emerald-green water on the sugar white sand beaches but not to be forgotten are nearby state parks which provide a wonderful break for an early or late afternoon walk or bike ride away from the crowds. One of my favorite of these is the Panama City Beach Conservation Park. This park is perfect for cyclists, nature lovers, bird watchers and trail seekers with over 24miles of trails on 2900acres. With 12 different trails as short as 0.6miles and as long as 11miles, it provides a family friendly option to accommodate physical activity for all ages including furry family members 😊. Located off Panama City Beach Parkway also known as Back Beach Road, is easily accessible to tourists and locals. There is no entrance fee at the park and there is ample parking on arrival at the visitor’s center. The visitors center is located at the southeast corner of the park and has public restroom facilities, garbage disposal and drinking water station. It does not have attendants, but the park rangers and staff are available and often seen maintaining the grounds. There are maps available at drop boxes and a larger map on the wall with pictures which tell the history of the park. Conservation Park was established by the city of Panama City Beach in cooperation with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Made up of mostly pine tree and cypress domes, it was founded with the dual purpose of protecting and balancing the natural resources while providing outdoor recreational opportunities. In…

Continue Reading A walk in Conservation Park

Travel Through Sound: A fresh “tune in” to not so fresh technology.

In a world of sound bites where every media outlet is vying for just “15minutes” of your time on a YouTube video, and after a year of zoom calls, podcasts, virtual conferences, meetings, and presentations, I was far from enthusiastic when a friend shared with me a link to check out. He is not one to share everything he comes across and so it was not hard to check out this technology which, has been available for the last 5years, was completely new to me called Radio Garden. I clicked on the link and instantly I was looking at a world globe and listening to “Sunday Best” by artist, Surfaces but my cursor was over Leicester, UK. Out of curiosity I headed straight to where I supposed was Cameroon, Central Africa. The circle hovered over a green dot which turned yellow and on the left side bar a list of radio stations popped up. I was listening to Bikutsi on “Balla Radio” in Yaounde, Cameroon. I noted there was a short list of nearby radio stations and another list of popular radio stations in Cameroon. After a mini dance party with the kids, we travelled to Kalaburagi, India and listened to “Retro, Bollywood” radio station. From India to Columbia, Alaska to Australia, the tunes continued. Every now and again we stumbled on a local news station, commercial or talk show which gives the listener an arguably more authentic experience than one would experience as a tourist to one of these locations. All this got me wondering how this technology came about. Radio Garden was born of the idea that one’s access to local radio stations should not be limited by their geographic location. It is a product of a digital research project between 2013-2016 by the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision, the Transnational Radio Knowledge Platform and five other European universities. The service is internet dependent and the site interface is a 3D globe with the user navigating through geolocation around the globe. Tuning in to a local radio…

Continue Reading Travel Through Sound: A fresh “tune in” to not so fresh technology.