“I want all my senses engaged. Let me absorb the world’s variety and uniqueness.” by Maya Angelou. What better way to describe my recent trips this past summer.
I made a new year’s resolution early this year, to travel more and to get out of my comfort zone i.e. California.
When you live here, you are spoilt. The weather is great most of the year, we are surrounded by beautiful nature, and to go for a wonderful vacation we don’t need to go far. Beautiful city of San Francisco is an hour away, gorgeous beaches are 30 minutes away, world-renowned wine countries like Sonoma and Napa Valley are couple hours away, Lake Tahoe is a few hours drive, the Riviera of the west coast Santa Barbara just a 4 hour drive, trendy Los Angeles is a quick 45 minute airplane ride, and anything and everything we can imagine we can find right here in California. Why bother going anywhere else on vacation? That used to be my attitude. So I made it a point this year to step out of my comfort zone and venture out to other parts of America and travel outside of America too.
I visited my sister Banu in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and got to explore this charming city through the eyes of a local, my sister. Check out my blog posts on Philadelphia and the sites around this area. Visit to Philadelphia: Off the Beathen Path
I also visited my friend Jo at her summer home in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Had the most relaxing time here in the popular beach town with our friends Jo and Oliver. They even took us on a day trip to the charming island of Nantuckett.
On the way to Cape Cod we stopped by Boston for a couple days of sightseeing. Here we even toured a chocolate factory of local artisanal chocolatier Taza Chocolate.
After a week break back home in California we headed to Kenya to see Hitesh’s family. We went to Kenya via Dubai and did an over night stay in this desert city and checked out a couple of sites in this town.
In Kenya we spent a couple days in Nairobi and checked out some wonderful places in this capital city. We even made a trip to Thika for dinner to see Hitesh’s Aunt, Uncle, and cousin Minal. We then headed to Masai Mara for a four day safari. From Nairobi we went to the coastal town of Mombasa where Hitesh grew up and where his family still lives.
What I came away with after my adventures this past summer is this: Everywhere we traveled I observed one thing: people in general are kind hearted and friendly no matter where you go.
In Philadelphia, I have the utmost respect for the manager of Cake restaurant and cafe who stayed open for us even after closing time. I expected her to be a grouch as we were encroaching on her break time, and expected the food to not be upto par as they were closing for the afternoon. But instead, she was hospitable and sweet, and the food tasted amazing. She only asked that we place our orders for hot entrée’s soon as she wanted the kitchen staff to take a break. But once that was done, she said we could linger for as long as we wanted. That was hospitality at its finest.
In Boston, I had complete strangers (local Bostonians) offering to take photos of the twins and me when they saw how we were struggling to take selfies in front of tourist sites. How do I know they are local Bostonians? They had thick local accents 🙂
In Cape Cod, our friends and hosts Jo and Oliver treated us like princesses. Here we made new friends Julie and Marlena who were just as sweet and hospitable as Jo and Oliver.
In Dubai, when checking into our hotel for the night we were asked where we were visiting from. We said California. To this the response we got from anyone we met was: “We love America.” In an election year like ours when all we here from candidates is what’s wrong with America and how we need to fix it, it’s nice to hear from people outside of America how great our country is. Sometimes we have to venture outside our comfort zone to appreciate how fortunate we are to live here.
Kenya! What a wonderful country. The local people here are the most friendly and warm-hearted folks you will ever come across. They are not wealthy in the monetary sense, but what they have in abundance of is warm smiles, helping culture, and a friendly attitude. There are way too many times for me to count where Kenyans reached out to help, with our bags, open doors for us, help us understand the local cuisine, rush to our aid if we needed it, they did this all with a big warm-hearted smile.
Here is another observation I made during my travels. The best way to enjoy all that this world has to offer is to travel with an open mind, absorb your surroundings and get immersed in the local culture. Appreciate the differences and embrace the positives, while letting go of the things that frustrate us (like flight delays of which we had plenty.) I came home with newfound appreciation of all the diversity and similarities that make this world so colourful and wonderful.
I will be posting stories of the places I visited this past summer, I hope you enjoy reading my travel journals and maybe they will encourage you to visit these cities in the near future.
Maya Angelou’s poetic words say it the best:
“I want all my senses engaged. Let me absorb the world’s variety and uniqueness.”