Friday, December 20, 2013

My last trip of the year 2013!

So happy, I met  (and exceeded) my travel goals for the year 2013. I set the goal for 2 international trips and 5 local (within the U.S) trips. I went on several small trips within the country: 
New York
New Jersey
Miami, Florida
San Antonio, Texas
Houston, Texas

And of course, awesome day trips in Rhode Island and Boston. Because, the best fun is always right where you live, the one where you never bother bringing a camera but end up having the most adventurous and fun time.

My international trips consisted of Mexico, Jamaica and now....drum roll.... Nigeria.

So glad I went on these trips, I met awesome friends in Mexico and went with friends to Jamaica and now hoping to meet with friends and family again in Nigeria. To celebrate Christmas and ring in the New Year.

Now that I know it is doable, to travel and work and do other things in between, I am planning my 2014 with traveling in mind. To help me with my travel inspirations, I read several travelers blogs. I particularly favor travelers that juggle traveling with their work. It inspires me to plan my travels, albeit at a smaller, more affordable scale.

How was your travel plans for 2013? Did you meet all of them, some of them or none at all? Any new travel plans for 2014?

Saturday, December 7, 2013

My Car!

There are several reasons I haven't traveled or planned a trip in a while. 
The first, my job is taken a turn for the better. This means, simply put, it also demands a lot more of my time. But I did make several smaller local trips that I haven't written about yet  (Yeah, I'm lazy).

But the main reason I haven't traveled in a while is that I have been saving up for a car.

And now I got it! My little baby, Arewa. 

I've held out long enough and managed to get around without a car. But it's becomes increasingly difficult to do. In the past, I tell myself I needed a car but never actively looked for one. This time, the opportunity to get one fell in my laps (more like my email) when a graduating student posted her car up for sale. 

The price is right, the car feels right and the timing is right. So ...why not?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

On knowing oneself: An anticlimactic surprise

Today, I realized that  it is quite possible to be nearly a type A-esque person and also very phlegmatic. Personalities are complex traits that characterize and define who we are. Owning a personality or multiple personalities is normal and 3-dimensional. Unlike the disorder in which all personalities become primary, the so-called "normal" person has one singular, primary personality and several secondary and dormant personalities.

When a person knows and recognizes who he is, he is able to project, quite effectively, his primary personality. Hence, you will hear, in reference to someone, the phrase; "Oh, he's a quiet and agreeable person", or "he's an aggressive person". In both instances, the so-called primary personality is active, and rightly so. 

On the other, when something happens to question ones' identity or sense of individuality, it is possible that dormant, recessive traits take the fore-front, resulting in a loss of primary personality.

I am no Hippocrates, I am no Freud. But today, I learnt that knowing oneself is key to keeping one's sanity.

Oh and if I seem a bit too reflective, you can blame it on this lunar wonder I witnessed on my way home from work.

 It was so captivating. I stopped to take a picture and then sat on the fading grass, I flung my bag carelessly by my side, my camera sat in my lap and I watched the moon

Monday, October 28, 2013

Uxmal: A Village Like No Other

I fell in love with Uxmal because I could climb the walls, the broken stairs, roam the arenas,  and the buildings. Although the big pyramid (Pyramid of the Magician) was restricted (partially), virtually everything else was climbable. This meant, I touched, climbed, sat and immersed myself in the structures around me.

Uxmal had something that, Chichen Itza, grand as it may be or Tulum, enticing as it was, didn't have. I felt Umxal gave me more of itself than the other two and I believed I reciprocated. Does that make sense?  Have you ever been to a place that you felt appealed to you in an almost mystifying,  inexplicable way?

Umxal is not as touristy as the other two pyramids, yet it was more appealing and its beauty was far extending than the others were. Chichen Itza, although grand, was well over crowed with both tourists and hawkers and other craft-ware sellers, yelling one dollar, in high-pitched tones,  these take away the "grandness" or allure of the experience. It diminishes the cultural immersion and mental satisfaction of visiting a place so old and rich in history. Granted, many of these local sellers make a living from doing this everyday, so I really shouldn't begrudge them their livelihood. :). But I digress, Uxmal had no excessive tourists (in fact, very low numbers in comparison to Tulum and Chichen Itza), but it was (in my very biased opinion) the best of all three.

There was quiet and peace. I could hear the wind rustling the leaves on the trees. The sky was blue, the clouds were densely white, the sun was bright, and I was so glad I visited this lovely place.

Doesn't the Uxmal pyramid look like a castle raising from the earth in the middle of the forest?

Sunday, September 1, 2013

How graduate school teaches me beyond the classroom and laboratory

Update on Graduate School:

So much have changed and I feel like a wheel on a driverless bandwagon. I have switched labs (for financial reasons or the lack of it I should say). In the process of switching labs, I have moved to be closer to said lab and back on campus. Although I am now starting my 4th year, it feels a bit like I am starting over, new lab, new people, new project, new location, new route of getting to work.

How do I feel about all this?

Well, life is never straight forward and smooth, if it were, I dare say, it would be incessantly boring. So, although, it's not the most exciting period right now, I am glad for where I am. Science is based on curiosity and asking questions and my new lab has a lot of questions to ask. I am starting to prepare a new project and I am learning a new technique. I honestly can't wait to get it going.

Looking Backwards?

Yes, how else can I compare where I've been to where I am going. I have learned a lot about myself in the past couple of years. I have worked and I have the data to show the extent of my work. I know that what I learned is never lost and the experiences will forever be a part of my story. My work is extending and will include both past and (the ongoing) present.

Looking Forward?

Absolutely, positively.
When I've settled, I will learn, laugh, sing, write and travel.

After all, graduate school is a training ground.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

On traveling and making new friends

I went on my trip to Mexico by myself, but met two awesome people and became fast friends with them.

We took a road trip to Chichen Itza, Merida, Campeche, and Uxmal. We discussed politics, social issues and construct, graduate school, law school, jobs and relationships. We compared life in the U.S, Israel, Austria and parts of Africa using our experiences as focal points. We were different, certainly unique, but those differences were complementary and provided for stimulating conversations.

And of course, we took lots and lots of photos, silly photos, serious photos and everything in between.

Yay, Starbucks in Merida!

Frolicking in the Campeche cathedral

Lounging around Uxmal

Eating in and experiencing Chichen Itza

Enjoying the night life in Merida

The best part of friendship is its continuation!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Campeche: A Cathedral, A Market, An Heritage, A World of Colors!

Campeche is very pretty. Historical, no doubt, yet pretty (I never thought I'd put those two words ever together). 

Colors are always a beauty and Campeche had this in abundance. From the colonial Spanish houses, to the cathedral, to the bay, Campeche definitely earned its place as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I went to Campeche for a day with a couple of friends I met while in Cancun. I found that Campeche is really more of a day trip destination than a few days stay. 

There isn't much to do in Campeche, it is not quite as touristy as the other states in the Yucatan peninsula. But that is its appeal. It is laid back and relaxed and slightly windy along the coast, while warm and scenting within the market and the central square. Campeche is definitely a sea-side low-key, fortified town. I do not have a photo of the central square (I've searched in my iPhotos to no avail :(...) but I find it reminiscent of the central square in Merida, although again I have to say the colors are much brighter. 

Campeche appealed to all my five senses (in a good and the occasional not so good way):

I smelled the very ripe aroma of fruits and vegetables in the market, then the stench of the small gutters lining the streets and the fishy smell that rode with the waves on the edge of the coast.

Look at these lovely bowls of cashew and habanero peppers. It reminded me of some Americans I once met who thought cashews were not fruits, just nuts (o_O). It was hard for me to believe, but equally hard for them to comprehend when I tried explaining that cashew is really a fruit and the nut is simply the seed plucked off the bottom of the fruit and then roasted into cashew nuts that they buy in the grocery store. 

smelled an awful lot like rotten fish

I saw colorful colonial buildings as I walked between the streets and stores and the old majestic cathedral known as Campeche cathedral. So much color, so much detail.

I heard the whirring of ACs in the store as I walked down the street, vendors calling out to families, friends and fellow vendors as they sell their wares.

I felt the sun beat down on my back in the mid day heat. I felt the history unfold as I walked around the small town, felt the strength of the gates, walls and systems designed years ago to keep intruders out. 

Even in the shade, the warmth of the sun was saturating.

And I swear, that mango I had in the market tasted like nothing I ever had before, almost like a sweet indescribable sensation that bursts at the tip of my tongue. (although I suppose being thirsty a while before eating the mango heightened my senses a bit).

Campeche is definitely worth visiting.