Kenya: A packing list for city, beach + safari.
Kenya: With the help of a driver, we're navigating Nairobi, Kenya's bustling capital.
Secret Getaway to Kenya, East Africa is underway! Spending time in Nairobi, Mombasa and Takaungu.
Boat trip: exploring Anguilla's hot spots by water.
A perfect Sunday in Anguilla: Savannah Bay, da'Vida, Gwen's & Picante.
In 2009, I embarked on a journey. I left my home in California to begin graduate school in the UK and at that moment, life changed. Since that time, I have had an amazing opportunity to see the world, meet incredible and inspiring people, and enjoy experiences that I never thought possible. As you’ll see from my experiences, it doesn’t take a lot of money, just some planning, a bit of flexibility and willingness to take everything – even the one-star hotels in Istanbul — as an exciting learning experience….
Kenya’s our first BIG trip of 2014 and as such, I wanted to take it as an opportunity to challenge myself to become a better packer. I looked at what I thought about taking and then refined the list further. No more miscellaneous items that I’ve worn once ever in the hopes that it will get use in a far-flung locale. I’ve seen the product of that decision before; space wasted. Of the 8 days we’re spending in Kenya, we’ve designated two for a safari experience. We’re opting to explore Tsavo East by car in lieu of a safari on foot which makes packing clothing a bit easier. After doing a bit of research on what to pack on safari, I discovered a few main things: stay away from bright whites, blues and blacks. Bright blues and black tend to attract tsetse flies, which are not easily deterred by bug repellent and whites get extremely dirty with the muck that gets kicked up. As we’re doing a car-based safari and not one on foot, shorts seem to be acceptable with long pants suggested during dusk when mosquitos are extra lively.
Much of what I’m bringing is like what I’d typically wear in Anguilla — shorts and lightweight blousy tops, plus SPF and hats for added sun protection. The weather in late February/early March is quite hot during the days but a sweater for late-night breezes and early morning safari outings is a good idea in my book.
Download Kenya – Packing List.
Have any of you been on safari in Africa? What items would be on your packing list for a longer safari experience?
xoxo from Kenya,
After downloading Lonely Planet’s Kenya guide and reading it cover to cover, Scott and I quickly decided that Nairobi wasn’t a city that we wanted to navigate solo. Referred to as ‘Nairobbery’, the city is plagued with crime, and the streets are notoriously difficult to navigate. Still, we weren’t going to miss spending a day in Kenya’s bustling capital so we decided to do it in what we consider to be one of the safest ways: with a hired car. We hadn’t considered renting a car when in the city. Even if we could figure out how to get around, there are too many horror stories about tourists getting held up in their cars. With one day in the city, we didn’t want to take that chance and didn’t want the headache of trying to get from Point A to Point B in a city we know nothing about. Public transportation was also relatively out of the question for the same reasons I mentioned earlier. Read More
It’s currently 4:46PM on January 19, 2014 when I’m writing this, far before this post will ever go live, and I’m still taking in what’s transpired in the last few days. Scott and I are currently en route to Mombasa, Kenya where we will be celebrating his mom’s 60th birthday with family. The kicker is that she has no clue about this trip; it’s all been planned as a surprise which is why I’ve had to draft a series of postdated blogs in lieu of sharing the entire planning process (the planning process will be in a series of forthcoming posts).
Scott’s dad called us roughly four days ago (this is mid-January) with the hopes of planning an incredible surprise for his mom’s birthday. Somehow, a house about an hour away from Mombasa became a serious contender in this planning process. Certainly unexpected, and undoubtedly a memorable experience for everyone involved. He reached out with the idea that a small group of family would covertly book travel to Kenya without letting his mom in on the secret. Well, here we are.
En route to Kenya. Read More
The past couple of weeks have been a bit of a run-around with back-to-back family and friends in town to visit. Lest I forget to capture the experiences that I had with my parents during their time in Anguilla, I thought I’d share some snapshots from a boat excursion that we enjoyed during their time here. My grandma opted to stay at home since the embarkation can be daunting as an almost 90-year-old. My parents hopped aboard our trip departing from Meads Bay on a trip down the island’s north side as we explored off-island cays and grabbed lunch at a tried-and-true favorite.
We started our day at Prickly Pear Cays, a place which has become ever more popular on our day trip agendas. Besides the bright white sand and a string of beach chairs, there’s not a whole lot there. There is, however, Prickly Pear Restaurant with this perfect little pop-up bar smack dab in the middle of the beach. Armed with a blender, they’re serving up blended concoctions for a reasonable $6 a pop. Read More
Sunday is the ultimate fun day in Anguilla. Live music is available across the island and great lunch spots teem with locals and tourists alike during high season. With my parents in town for their first and only Sunday during their trip, we decided to expose them to a few spots that they hadn’t yet seen. During their last trip to the island, we spent both Sundays at Scilly Cay, chowing down on crayfish and lobster and slugging all-too-powerful rum punches. This time, we started our morning a bit more casually with a jaunt to Savannah Bay followed by lunch at da’Vida, a quickie drink at Gwen’s and dinner at Picante.
My mom was on mission whilst visiting Anguilla: besides turning her milky-white skin a shade of butterscotch, she wanted to find shells. Preferably large shells, but any would suffice. I thought she’d have decent luck at Junk’s Hole; at the very least she’d be intrigued by the rugged landscape. Her luck was mixed, but she was like a kid in a candy store exploring the far reaches of the beach and digging up sea urchin shells and conch shell remains. A quick stop into Nat’s Place provided us with drinks to cool off plus a johnny cake for my parents to experience. Success.
My parents have been to the Caribbean before on one single occasion: for our wedding in July. That was their first brush with the Caribbean as a whole and they spent that time solely in Anguilla. This time around, with more time for Scott and I to spend with them, they brought up the idea of doing a day trip to St. Martin to explore another island. Knowing that my mom would love a taste of the local markets, I proposed going on Saturday when Marigot’s markets are in full swing and the island has more going on. We played the rest of the day by ear, stopping at Orient Bay and in Dutch St. Maarten before heading back to Anguilla.
We arrived to a Marigot we had never before experienced: a bustling, busy area with not a single rental car available. We started the morning with a quick walk to Serafina’s for breakfast crepes and requisite macarons. Even if you’re not hungry and not a dessert-lover, these things are a must. The raspberry and lemon are personal favorites.
Following breakfast, we headed into the markets where my mom purchased a colorful summer dress before stumbling upon the infused rum station. Free samples? Yes, please. After testing four infusions, she chose three of her favorites — coconut, pineapple and banana vanilla — to pack up to take back to California. Read More
For us, there is no better place for a birthday celebration in Anguilla than Dolce Vita. When it came time to celebrate my mom’s 60th, we had no doubt in our minds where we would be toasting to another year of happiness. In general, there aren’t many opportunities to get dressed up here, but we were excited to put on dresses and makeup for what would be one of our biggest nights out during their time here. Naturally, I took the opportunity to host a mini family photo shoot to capture the evening.
An attempt to get a jumping shot of my parents. Fail, but cute photo.
After weeks of planning and anticipation, my parents finally made it to Anguilla! I was a ball of nerves before they arrived as they were connecting in New York on their way from California. Watching flight after flight being cancelled, I wasn’t overly optimistic that their flight would depart as scheduled. Fortunately, everything went off without a hitch and they arrived in St. Martin ahead of schedule. After a quiet first evening in with a home cooked meal, some rum punch (with our infusions), and Bachelor gossip, we called it a night.
Today we made it our mission to get some sun and see a different side of Anguilla. My parents spent the majority of their time on Meads Bay during their last trip to the island so we decided to show them Rendezvous Bay for an equally beautiful beach with a totally different perspective. Armed with towels, magazines and custom Tervis tumblers, we claimed chairs at the Sunshine Shack where we spent our day. Read More
I’m so overjoyed right now with the newest initiative that we’ve brought to the Frangipani Beach Resort in Anguilla. One of the greatest things about working in a small organization is that you’re able implement great new ideas and bring projects to life with fewer obstacles and less red tape. When we initially moved to Anguilla, it was important to Scott and I that we have a positive impact on the island that we get to call home. Individually our reach may be somewhat limited but with the help of the Frangipani, we’re able to reach larger audiences and have a greater impact.
We’re excited to announce our partnership with Pack for a Purpose and Anguilla’s Blowing Point Youth Development Center. With the help of visitors to the island, we can bring supplies to an organization that helps develop and shape the island’s youth. When we visited the center to talk with the staff and meet the children, we were blown away. The work that is being done by a mostly volunteer staff, plus the vibrant spirits of the children in attendance created the most heart-warming environment. There’s no point in completely rewriting what I’ve already penned for a press release that’s going live today. Keep reading for the official scoop on what we’re doing: Read More
There’s not a liquor that’s more quintessentially Caribbean than rum. While we’re fine with our rum punches, ti punches and other rum-based cocktails, we decided to up the ante with homespun rum infusions over the weekend. After acquiring jeraboams (yes, plural) of rosé in December, we decided to repurpose the empties and put those stunning gigantic bottles to good use.
We have a growing bar in our home, part of which is made up of infused rums we’ve purchased in St. Martin and Saba. We’ve finished off a meal with banana rum on more than one occasion and decided to attempt our own delicious concoctions at home. I was shocked to find very few ‘recipes’ (read: good flavor profiles and pairings) for rum infusions online, so we started dreaming up our own blends. One important input for great infusions? Great fruit. We used other ingredients, too (vanilla beans from Madagascar, cinnamon sticks, cloves, etc.), but the rum we had dreamed up was full of bright, Caribbean flavors. We headed to our go-to for the best fruit on the island, a small stand in The Quarter selling fresh fruit, primarily from Dominica.
The basics of infusions can be found across the internet, so I’ll briefly outline what we did and then delve into our flavor pairings since those are the more interesting piece of this puzzle. You can infuse booze in any container really — we used old rose bottles and mason jars, but any canning containers would work, in theory. First, put in your fruits and aromatics (cinnamon sticks, vanilla beans, mango, pineapple, etc.), and then fill with rum. We used bottom of the barrel, inexpensive rum we purchased at a liquor store on island (about $15 for a 1.75L bottle). Store the infusions in a cool, dry and darkish space for 3 – 5 days, shaking the containers 3 times a day. After the marinating period is over, strain the concoction and place it in its final resting place. We’ll end up straining it into a container and then putting it back in the pretty wine bottles to store.
We used our jeraboam bottles to create our two primary rum infusions, and then supplemented with five small mason jars to experiment with different flavor profiles entirely. The verdict is still out on whether these are drinkable at all but our preliminary tastes yesterday would have us believe we’re on the right track with some of our pairings.
We decided to keep the main infusions somewhat simple, with flavors that will ideally appeal to most of our house guests and friends. The first bottle was a blend of passionfruit + mango + vanilla beans. We found great vanilla beans at a local store and split them open to allow the vanilla flavors and aromas to permeate the rum. We loaded up the bottle with passionfruit, with its flesh and juices to let the flavors meld. We added in two mangos, cut into chunks. Scott tossed in a few cloves for good measure.
The other large infusion was pineapple + cinnamon, with nearly an entire pineapple cut into segments and placed in the bottle. A few cinnamon sticks and a bit of sugar helped balance out pineapple-heavy concoction.
Our mason jar experiments took us down the road less traveled with small amounts of unique blends. Scott put together things like our Mexican rum blend (chipotle peppers, cinnamon, vanilla), and a Thai blend (Thai chilis, lemongrass, fresh ginger, fruit). Either would make a great base for a unique cocktail.
One of the things we noted during the creation process is that different inputs will need to marinate for different periods of time. Coconut, for example, is extremely mild so may need to marinate for a week or more. Things like chilis and cloves have extremely concentrated flavors that can overpower the blend and can be removed early on. We took our chilis out after about 36 hours.
We have guests heading over for dinner on Friday night at which point we may debut the newest members of our bar layout and use them as our guinea pigs. That’s what friends are for, right?
Have you ever created your own infusions at home? What are your favorite pairings?
xoxo from the bar,