Tag: africa (page 1 of 4)

TWIPPERS OF THE WEEK

Twippers of the Week: Torben and Angie from The Global Wanderlust!

Current city: Barcelona, Spain

Age: 33 & 39

Total countries visited: Who keeps count?

What makes you interesting: Our differences. Angie is from the Dominican Republic and I’m from Denmark. Two different cultures, two different upbringings but we are the perfect example of opposites attract.

What brands do you love: I’m sure Angie has a long list of high-end designer and clothing brands she loves but I’m more a simple kind of guy. My favorite brands would be any good food brand!

Most magical place on earth: Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic will always be a special and magical place for us. It’s a gorgeous part of the island, not so crowded with all-inclusive resorts and tourists. It feels like home and it was actually where we got married!

What motivates you to travel: To live new experiences, meet new people, see the world and all its wonder. It might be a cliché but we feel the most alive when traveling!

Describe your most unique or funniest travel experience: Definitely our beach wedding in the Dominican Republic. I got married with a set of brand new shoes that weren’t even from the same pair and didn’t notice until after the wedding was over. Brilliant right!

Describe the last time you tried something new: I tried a new restaurant yesterday, that was pretty good!

Where and when were you the most culture shocked: We both were very positively shocked in Japan. It’s such an impressive culture. It was educated, traditional but modern and different from the western culture. It’s quite the experience; had I not been there, I would put it on top of my bucket list!

Best travel advice: Don’t be a tourist!

Next travel destination: Seychelles, Africa

TWIPPER OF THE WEEK

Twipper of the Week: Elizabeth Raflowitz from ER: Where to Next?

Current city: Boston, MA

Age: 32

Total countries visited: 52 countries/territories, 7 continents.

What makes you interesting: No to sound too nerdy, but I love learning all the anthropologic elements of other countries – the culture, language, architecture, and of corse the food. I love embracing their traditions and trying to pick up a few words in their native tongue.

What brands do you love: Louis Vuitton, Kate Spade and Lacoste are my faves, but while abroad I always look for Bershka and Zara (it’s better than U.S. Zara).

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned from traveling: Acceptance of other people’s cultures. Every country has a unique history, and the point of traveling is to expand your outlook on people and the world.

Describe your most unique or funniest travel experience: When I was in college I studied abroad on Semester at Sea. I spent 100 days on a small cruise ship and traveled around the world beginning in the Bahamas, traveling through South America, across the Atlantic to Africa, Asia, across the Pacific and docking in San Diego. We visited 9 countries, and it was the most eye-opening experience and was where I met some of my closest friends.

What’s your favorite passport stamp: My favorite passport stamp is definitely my one from Antarctica. It was such an achievement to be able to visit my 7th continent, but my coolest passport stamp is from Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch in Wales – the longest town name in the world!

What’s one thing you have no problem breaking the bank for when traveling: Just one? I really love to live in the moment when traveling but food and unique home decor are things you have to do right. No one makes that place’s food better than the locals, so I be sure to take it all in. For home decor, I like to bring a piece of the country back home with me, whether a piece of art or decoration. It’s always a talking point when people are at my condo.

What is your most favorite travel memory: One of my favorite trips was spending Christmas in the Malaysian rainforest with my family. We spent the holiday in a treehouse hotel, hiking through the rainforest, and seeing Santa in a bathing suit!

What item will you never leave home without: My passport! But sadly, it’s probably my cell phone because it sometimes acts as my camera, my boarding pass, and my way to pass the time on flights.

Next travel destination: I just booked a very spontaneous trip to Oslo, Norway for Labor Day Weekend with my two friends from Semester at Sea. We found great deals on flights, so how could we not book?! We’re still figuring out the details, but possibly also heading to Bergen on the west coast to see the fjords while we are there!

TWIPPER OF THE WEEK

Twipper of the Week: Tatyana Ray from Curls Round The World.

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Current city: Kona, Hawaiʻi

Age: 24

Total countries visited: For the sake of context, I’ve traveled to 5 continents solo and will reach my 6th in mid June of 2016. But, I stopped counting countries years ago because I’ve traveled to so many places (e.x. India, Morocco and Mexico) more than once. It didn’t really make sense to count countries individually because each time I’m in a new place it’s like I see it with a fresh perspective. As strange as it sounds, many of the places I visit are transforming at a rate equal to or greater than myself!

What makes you interesting: I’m an anthropologist by training, so my desire to travel isn’t rooted in seeing beautiful places, escaping the rat race, or visiting the most well known sites in a country. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy many popular UNESCO world heritage sites, globally renowned museums and I treasure any opportunity to explore the natural wonders of this world. But, I think my academic background and anthropological interests/inclinations push me to adventure in a unique way. I also should note that I’ve met many other wanders who try to remain conscious of the footprints we all leave behind.

What brands do you love: I’m not a big consumer and I don’t enjoy shopping very much. But, I do love quality brands that support local economies and farmers markets, as well as food cooperatives. When I’m traveling I prefer to stay at boutique hotels or home stays. I also tend to purchase fair trade goods when I do pick up necessities or souvenirs so the producers receive a living wage.

What’s your Travanality: Oh gosh, it’s so hard for me to select just one! I definitely think that I’m a Culturist and Altruist, but the way I express the various cultures that I experience comes out in an Imaginavo fashion (photography, videography, creative writing). I also love action sports and adrenaline packed adventures, so I’m definitely a little bit of a Purist and a Maverick too. It’s likely easiest to identify what I’m not which is an Urbanite! I’ll skip capital cities and busy environments to explore the natural landscapes of a destination. I’m also not very oriented towards the Epicurean or Victor Travanalities even though I love food and athleticism.

What is the furthest northern, southern, eastern, and western point you have traveled: The farthest north I have traveled is Sweden, the farthest South is likely South Africa (I made it to the Cape of Good Hope but not Cape Agulhas). In terms of West and Eastern points I’m not entirely sure haha! I’ve traveled to India, Tanzania, Brazil and Hawaii. I think it all depends where you start from in order to determine the “most Eastern or most Western” destination one has traveled to. So, as I usually leave from my hometown in Northern California, the most West and East are likely mentioned somewhere above haha!

Where and when were you the most culture shocked: The greatest culture shock that I experienced was actually returning home from spending two months in Tanzania (primarily in the African bush and on the island of Zanzibar), followed by somewhere between two to three months in India (in the northern region where my Mother is from), and then a few months in Sweden. Returning to my native lands after three disparate experiences abroad left me flummoxed and uncertain about my future.

What have you learned about yourself during your travels: One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned is that I’m a strong, capable woman with much to offer the world. I think the self reliance that can come from solo travel is so important. It’s easy to become dependent upon other people or ideas of who we are and or who we “should” be, but traveling, living and working abroad has really shattered such misconceptions. I’ve also finally accepted that there is always more to learn! Sometimes the lessons I was taught in classrooms or in books weren’t fully comprehensible until I had experiences to support them. I also found it so frightening and fantastic when experiences abroad defied that which I had been told and taught to believe at home.

Best travel advice: If you can’t find anyone who has the money, time or interest to go with you… then go by yourself. Go solo! I promise it’s worth it to explore this earth. Going now and trusting yourself will be much less of a headache than deferring your dreams.

Next travel destination: Hawaii, then Australia, then Mexico! After that I may go visit with a friend and kindred spirit who just moved to Morocco.

Taste the World with Spice Madam’s Co-founder and Chief Spice Madam Kim Simithraaratchy

Kim Simithraaratchy has co-founded Spice Madam to connect people through good food and the sharing of culture across all borders. By working as a technology consultant, she was able to perfect her skills in problem solving and creating an online presence from day one. From delivering the flavors of the world to your kitchen table to giving back to Cafe Momentum, a Dallas-based restaurant and culinary training facility that transforms the lives of our most at-risk youth with life skills, education and employment opportunities, Kim has made an impact in people’s lives with her passion for food. With her sights focused on international consumers in the near future, Spice Madam plans on expanding her reach so other cultures to get a deeper understanding of other countries around the world through their palate.

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Tell us about Spice Madam.

Spice Madam is a privately-held, global lifestyle brand dedicated to bringing people together through food. We believe cooking and sharing meals is the most powerful platform for communication, connection and community. Spice Madam curates subscription spice kits featuring a different country’s cuisine every month, conveniently delivered to member’s doorsteps on a monthly basis nationwide.  Each kit includes the featured country’s key spices, recipes, cultural information and a music playlist with representative music from that country. My friend Meghana Moya, a fellow foodie and world traveler, and I co-founded Spice Madam over dinner where Meghana brought up the idea for the subscription spice business model. I loved it immediately and came up with the name Spice Madam that night.  Spice Madam’s target market is anyone who likes to cook, travel and explore other cultures.

How has working as a Computer Engineer and Technology Consultant prepared you for your role with Spice Madam?

At the end of the day, my work as a technology consultant was about helping companies solve difficult problems. Having worked across many client industries, I am very confident in facing any new problems with an analytical and solution-oriented mindset no matter the context.  As an online business, establishing a presence on the Web is critical.  I was able to quickly set up a site capable of taking orders and conveying our value proposition.  As our needs outgrew our initial hosting platform, I migrated our site to another platform to streamline payment processing and maintenance. My 13 years of technology experience allowed us to get moving quickly without worrying about hiring the right person to help us.

What has be the biggest hurdle transitioning from the technology space to the food industry?

I’ve been involved in the food industry for a long time as an avid consumer, but also in running a cooking blog and producing cooking videos in my spare time. The biggest change in moving over from the technology space has been that I now get to dedicate all of my time to something I am very passionate about. The hardest part is moving from being a part of a company with an established structure and process to owning and directing a brand-new enterprise from the ground up. Through it all, I am continuing to learn and grow in all new directions, and that is the best part of it for me!

What is your proudest accomplishment since the launch of Spice Madam?

Meghana and I came up with the concept for a Travel Spice Kit while on a plane as we returned from a spice research trip in New Orleans and were able to turn it around to launch in five days. We feel pretty proud of that ability to be innovative and nimble as a business!

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What was the biggest obstacle while creating Spice Madam and how did you overcome this hurdle?

The biggest obstacle we faced in launching Spice Madam was making the time to get all the necessary elements of the business organized while holding very demanding full-time jobs. When we agreed to pursue Spice Madam together as business partners, we committed to meeting once a week to dedicate time to plan the launch.  Our drive to stay the course enabled us to successfully launch Spice Madam one year after we began our weekly meetings.

What are the benefits of working with your business partner Meghana?

As business partners, we are very aligned in our vision of Spice Madam’s mission and core values.  This has made the decision-making process very easy since everything we do must support our shared vision for Spice Madam or we just don’t do it.  We complement each other very well as one of Meghana’s strengths is her experience working in marketing, finance, and operations at a private equity backed consumer products company and in technology at a leading Fortune 500 company.   We both recognize that it’s always great to have two perspectives on an issue and through open communication we arrive at solutions together that abide by our brand’s mission and values.  We feed off each other’s energy and passion for what we do and our team’s results benefit from our combined ideas and perspectives.

When a customer receives their box, what would they expect inside?

Each box contains 3-5 spices and 4-6 recipes from the featured destination. You also get a playlist of music from there to set the mood while you are cooking, as well as fun travel tips and cultural facts to give you some context around the food you’ll be cooking and enjoying at the dinner table.

How do you choose which spices you are going to have in your box?

Each month, we go through a process of research on the cuisine of the featured destination. We also bring in our own firsthand experiences from worldwide travel and our international network to ensure we are getting to the heart of the culture. We select recipes and then decide which spices to feature in our curated spice kit.  We test all the recipes in the Spice Madam test kitchen to ensure they are doable in the average home kitchen, and we also devise substitutions for members to prepare gluten-free, vegetarian, and/or vegan versions of our recipes to suit their lifestyles.

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What are your favorite spices, recipes and why?

Ginger is one of my favorite spices because I love the spiciness and flavor it adds to so many dishes. In addition, it has lots of anti-inflammatory properties that make it really healthy and healing for you.

A favorite ginger recipe would be Vietnamese caramelized pork, where tender pork chunks are braised in a sweet and savory ginger, coconut juice sauce. It’s the comfort food of my childhood!

What is one of your most favorite customer reactions to receiving their box and making the recipes?

One customer shared that he gets together with his dad to cook every month with Spice Madam Spice Kits. I love that we can help bring people together through food.

What is one thing about spices that most people do not know?

Spices have many healthy properties and have been used in eastern medicine for various purposes. In recent years, science and western medicine have started proving what has been known in practices such as Ayurveda for over two millennia.

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Where would you like to see Spice Madam in the next five years?

We are working for Spice Madam to be recognized as the easiest way to bring global cuisine to homes worldwide and for bringing people together through food. We have gotten requests for Spice Madam from Brazil and Italy, among other countries, and are working to ship internationally within the next three to five years.  

Anything else you would like to share with our readers?

One of the core values of Spice Madam is to give back to the community. A portion of the proceeds of each box is donated to a nonprofit that supports children and education. Currently, we donate to Cafe Momentum, an organization that provides life skills training and mentorship for at risk teens in a gourmet restaurant kitchen setting. They’re doing amazing work!

Use the code TWIP20 for 20% off your first box!

More facts about Kim:

Personal Mantra: “Let’s Go!”
De-Stress Technique: Dancing and Yoga
Latest Gadget: Travel Spice Kit
Favorite App: Slack
Next Vacation Destination: New York and Bali

TWIPPERS OF THE WEEK

Twippers of the Week: Frank and Lissette from The Travels of BBQboy and Spanky.

bbqboy and spanky in Cape Town

Current city: Rovinj, Croatia

Age: 49

Total countries visited: 45

What makes you interesting: We don’t just travel full-time, we live in different places for extended periods of time. Earlier this year, for example, we were in South Africa for three months where we hiked Table Mountain, paraglided over Cape Town, and bungeed from the highest bridge jump in the world, Bloukrans Bridge. We met the friendliest people there and fell in love with the place. The opportunity to be somewhere for a longer period of time gives us insight on places that we would never have as tourists on a two week vacation. We’ve spent extended periods of time in Budapest, Prague, as well as in Brasov (Romania) and have become huge fans of Eastern Europe which I think is an area often misunderstood. We’re now in Croatia for three months, another of our favorite places. One of the things we started doing after our first year of travel was to join gyms everywhere we go. The idea was to get back in shape but it’s ended up being a great way to meet people and get to really know a place. It fits in perfectly with the way we travel.

What brands do you love: We’re not into brands. We have a Canon camera we’re happy with and just bought a GoPro. Quality shoes are always important so we make sure to buy the best.

What’s your Travanality? Frank is somewhere between a Maverick and a Purist: nature is what gives him the most peace and he feels happy hiking and being outdoors. Lissette is both an Urbanite and Soulager: she loves the vibe of a city (she’s originally from New York) but she’s also into yoga, meditation and is much more insightful on matters of the soul than Frank is. We’re also both Epicurean – we love good food and wine and believe both are a huge part of experiencing a different culture.

Describe your unique or funniest travel experience: There’s been a few. We hiked the rim of the crater of Lake Maninjau (in Sumatra) to arrive in a small village where some kind of party was going on. There were children with pellet guns and they started shooting at us, thinking it was damn funny. We got out of there pretty fast. Another time we took a bus from Santo Domingo to Las Terrenas in the Dominican Republic and we got dropped off on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere in the dark. Youths in motorcycles came up to us and I thought we were in trouble. No, they were just offering a ride across the mountains to our final destination. Another time we met a drunk German (a police officer from Stuttgart) on a train in Thailand who insisted on drinking with us while pulling out and displaying every souvenir he had collected from his travels through China and Vietnam. We also drank with ladyboys in Thailand and made friends with a pack of soldiers in Colombia. We seem to meet really interesting and/or crazy people everywhere we go.

What are the top reasons should someone travel with you: We’re adventurous, fun and enjoy talking to people. In the end those are the ingredients that lead to interesting encounters.

What is the best part about having a travel partner: The biggest thing is having someone to share experiences with. We’re also different and because of that both of us are exposed to things we probably wouldn’t do traveling on our own like going on yoga retreats and taken cooking lessons (these are things Lissette likes). On the other hand, we’ve hiked and had more adventurous-type experiences because that’s what turns Frank craves.

Where and when were you the most culture shocked: Frank has had a few experiences with culture shock in his life. When he was 9 he moved from rural Quebec to Lusaka, Zambia where he lived a few years. He was one of the few Caucasian children in the class and he barely spoke English. That was a big culture shock. He went to Morocco in his teens and was shocked by the aggressive beggars, some with leprosy, others with bulging white eyes (some kind of disease). He was afraid to leave the hotel. It was like being in a bad zombie movie. As an adult, he experienced culture shock in Sumatra where people weren’t used to seeing Caucasian foreigners. Everyone wanted to take a photo or talk with him. He felt like it was very invasive. All cases of culture shock but each very different.

Best travel advice: Keep your mind open and allow yourself time. We love our way of travel (what people refer to as “slow travel”) because we integrate ourselves into our destinations. We’ll lived in the suburbs of Prague, in the middle of Romania, and in small-town Thailand. All very foreign places where very little English was spoken yet we ended up making each home for a few months. Each place holds memories we’ll never forget. So don’t rush a place. The other thing about slow travel is that it’s less expensive and sustainable. We’ve been traveling full-time now for two years and are saving money at the same time, it’s something I occasionally write about on the blog. We love the way we travel.

Next travel destination: We want to explore Spain, Portugal and Morocco after our three months in Croatia, followed by Japan in November. We’ve never been to Japan and look forward to it. That will be followed by some more travels in Asia (most likely Malaysia) and then our return to Africa in February where we hope to see Lesotho, Mozambique and Zambia.

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