NYC Jollof Festival!

This past weekend, I joined hundreds of my fellow New Yorkers at the New York City African Food Festival, where we determined which country will be handed the crown for the best Jollof, a spicy tomato-based rice meal that originates in West Africa.

Based on its name, the origins of Jollof rice can be traced back to the Senegambian region that was ruled by the Jolof Empire, a West African state that ruled parts of Senegal from 1350 to 1549. There are multiple regions in Africa who debate over the geographical origins of Jollof rice. However, one of the most vigorous Jollof rice rivalries has always been between Nigerians and Ghanaians. These two do not debate origin, but rather taste.

The contest, which was held at the Duggal Greenhouse in Brooklyn Navy Yard, July 23rd, was judged by professional chefs, but the contestants are amateurs, chosen to represent their home countries. To guarantee an authentic home cooked experience, the dishes were graded solely based on taste and not on presentation. Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Kenya were some of the countries present.

Visitors were able to try traditional drinks, and alcohol from West Africa, listen to live music, as well as purchase unique cultural wear and designs from members of Ankara Bazaar.

Just like the Jollof festival in Washington DC, Nigeria once again walked away victorious in the NY Jollof war!

5 Things to Know Before You go White Water Rafting In Leigh River

This Saturday I had the opportunity of going on a white water rafting trip that was hosted by Boom-Boom Entertainment NYC. This was my second time going and it was just as exciting as my first. The Leigh River, which is located in the Poconos, is approximately 2.5hrs away from NYC. The River itself is 19 miles long and we spent approximately 3-4 hours on the water. Unlike the first time, I was better equipped both physically and mentally the second time around. Below is a list of five things that are an absolute must if you are planning your first white water rafting trip.

                                                                 Sleep

Getting a good night’s rest the night before is the first step in preparing for your day on the river. Rafting, similar to hiking and cycling, is an outdoor sport, and like everything else there will be risks. You will need to be alert and not fatigued in order to enjoy the entire trip. Remember you will be actively paddling for at least 4hrs, and if you are not someone who exercises regularly, you can become worn out early. We had to meet the team at 6 AM, in order to depart by 7AM and check in on time for the trip down the river.

Shoes

Since it is summer, flip flops are a big part of our daily wear. However, it’s best that you wear footwear that can be secured. Sandals that have a strap that goes around your heel would be best. Water shoes would be great as well as an old pair of sneakers. I preferred the sneakers as it provided better protection against rocks. You will not be permitted to get into the rafts with loose fitting sandals, crocs or flip-flops.

                                                               

                                                                  Clothing

Bring a change of clothing, because the chances of you getting wet is 100%! A t-shirt and a pair of shorts are your best bet. Also, keep in mind that you will be out in the sun for 3-4hrs. So, full body coverage with sunscreen with SPF 15 or more is recommended. An old baseball cap and sunglasses with straps (they will fall) will also be helpful. Wet suits are available for rent on site for approximately $20.img_9019

                                                               Swimming

Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to know how to swim to participate. Everyone is provided a personal flotation device that must be worn securely during your trip.

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Keep in mind that the rafts are small, typically only have room for 5-6 people, and does not have room for much else. A small snack and water can be brought on board and will be kept in a water-tight sealed container on the raft. Everyone’s lunch is stored in the same bucket, so do not bring any overly large containers. We each brought a sandwich, bag of chips and a 16 oz. water bottle, and all fit perfectly. Do not bring anything on board that is not water proof or cannot be tied to your person.IMG_9023

White water rafting is definitely one of those repeat experiences that I plan on doing at least once a year. If you’re in the NYC area, I definitely recommend contacting Freddie from Boom-Boom Entertainment NYC, who coordinated our trip. Total cost of the trip was $110/pp. which included round trip transportation in a private bus, rafting on the river, a souvenir, breakfast, unlimited snacks and beverages en route to and from the city, as well as lunch. The cost for the trip if you decide to travel on your own is $60/pp, so it comes out much cheaper if you contact Boom-Boom entertainment. I also hate driving and after being on the river all day, I could not imagine having to drive back down to New York on my own.FullSizeRender (2)

What’s in my carry on: The essentials

When it comes to traveling, what you chose to pack and how you pack dictates how comfortable the flight will be. I used to over pack to the extreme, which not only added extra weight to my luggage and luggage fees, but made traveling exhausting all together.

Now that I have a tad bit more experience with traveling, it has become easier to organize myself even last minute. Here is a list of my carry-on essentials.

  1. The bag

The most important part of the carry on, is the bag itself. I have been using this Michael Kors oversize tote for quiet some time now. When choosing a carry on, pay close attention to the size and length of the straps. Always chose one that gives you the option of being able to carry it by hand and the ability to through it over your shoulder when you need your hands free. The strap should also be thick and wide enough as not cause any pinching in the shoulder, which will lead to discomfort.

2. Media/technology

I usually only carry my Ipad as oppose to a laptop, as it is much lighter and convenient, basically has the same function, and God forbid gets lost or stolen, is a much cheaper loss than an expensive Mac book. It also holds my Audible books, games and music. I also carry my Iphone, the cords for each device and most importantly a backup battery pack. There is nothing worse than getting off the plane and hunting for an outlet to charge a phone or tablet. This portable charging wristlet is one of my prized travel possession, not only is it wide enough to carry my keys, lip gloss, and phone, but it is also comes equipped with an external charger and charging cord, which means that your phone can be charging while it is tucked safely away in your bag.

use this link and get a similar one from Amazon

3. Camera

When I started blogging I was a bit shocked when I realized the vast difference between “professional” photos and those that I posted. To up my photo game and after much research, I purchased the Olyumpus OM-DE- M10 Mark2. Which provides excellent image quality and having the capability to catch the finest details and sharpness even in difficult lighting, and is great for novice shooter like myself.

4. A change of clothes

While we never wish for it to happen, it’s always a good idea to pack a change of clothes in your carry-on bag, just in case your checked luggage gets lost. Keep in mind the weather of of your destination. A pair of jeans, a t-shirt and change of underwear, should be sufficient.

5. A Good book

Usually a magazine or E-book is helpful in getting through long flights after you’re exhausted from watching movies. Check out Audible Membership for the latest titles.  Two of my favorites are Half of a Yellow Sun and Purple Hibuscus, both written by Chimamanda Ngozi AdichieI also never leave home without my planner, as I like to stay organized, even while vacationing.

6. Comfort

I have a cosmetic bag, that I refer to as my comfort bag. In it I carry my earphones, hand sanitizer/ wet wipes, hand lotions, eye shield (for napping), medicine, ear plugs, as well as compression socks to help my legs through those long flights.  A comfy blanket and neck pillow are other essentials.
 I got these from Amazon.

7. Sunglasses

Rather then looking for a bathroom to reapply makeup in order to feel refreshed after flying, I usually just throw on a pair sunglasses. This will hide any newly acquired dark circles from the flight, and have you stepping off the plane like the celebrity that you are.

8. Passport holder

A pretty passport holder to keep bag claims , and boarding pass are essentials as well as a healthy snack.

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What’s in you Carry on? comment below.

Go to @travelingsistaz for a chance to win one of these travel essentials