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…

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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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Travel Destination 2021 The beginning of the year is always a great time to plan travel. Its a great time to budget and explore destination options. It is always fun to get the kids input and initial impressions because it gives us an opportunity to do some research. Traveling can sometimes confirm those impressions or we find out quite differently. Kids Travel Map 2021 - Colored = "Visited with Mom and Dad"; Circled or underlined = "Mom and Dad have been here and we want to go with them next time". The kid’s are reviewing the travel map for 2021. Their bucket list is long and ever-growing 😊. Help us plan our next trip by taking the poll. Click on the poll block above to edit it directly in this post. Add a question, and multiple answers and even change the styling of the block using the sidebar controls. Add new poll blocks by searching for "poll" or type "/poll" in a new block.

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Coming home – douala 2020

Aerial View Douala (Bonapriso) "Bonne anne! Bonne anne! Happy new year!" We were awakened on the flight from Casablanca to Douala to these phrases ringing through the plane. Festive passengers toasting champagne flutes and wine glasses aboard our flight cheering and ringing in a new year, 2020. Air hostesses skirted up and down the aisle at steady pace making sure the rousing travelers aboard this Royal Air Maroc flight were satisfied with the refreshments being served. Our four kids who had never seen such merry making on an airplane before were turning their heads trying to understand the shouts and laughter that carried through the air vessel. The older girls kept asking “What did he say?” “Mama, what’s going on?” as most conversations and interactions were conducted in French, the language communicated in by most in Cameroon. Soon enough the pilot announced over the intercom, “We would like to wish all passengers a happy and prosperous new year in 2020. We should be landing in Douala in approximately 90 minutes.” Our previous trip to Cameroon was in 2016 and so this homecoming was well overdue. Mark and I have both made numerous trips to Cameroon; both of our fathers were born and raised in Bamenda which is where most of our families used to live. It had been four years since we visited Bamenda and the conflict and political turmoil has rendered the area less safe. Because of the insecurity and various other reasons, several relatives of ours now live in nearby cities such as Yaounde and Douala. This visit would be less than a weeklong, it would take a lot of planning to get family together from different towns and cities, but this was Cameroon where most will candidly say in a tongue and cheek fashion “almost everything is negotiable”.     We landed in Douala International Airport and after the routine checkpoints with immigration and health screening (yellow fever card check point), we picked up our luggage and headed out to our meet our ride. The Douala airport is…

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