Thursday, February 25, 2016

Sweet Home Dominica

 It's been quite cold in London these last few weeks, and I've been feeling a little under the weather and down, so I can't help, like anyone daydream about summer. I don't know anyone who doesn't love summer. It's definitely one of the best times of the year. But I'm not sure how summer '16 will ever exceed summer '15. Last summer, I finally had the amazing opportunity to go back home, to the country I took my first breath. The Commonwealth of Dominica, commonly known as Dominica or DA (please please don't confuse us with the Dominica Republic, we are not same).
Super Dominica, my new favourite thing. I feel like she is me, and probably most other Dominicans but I want to be her. She's the embodiment of DA and I feel DA embodies me. P.S: Find out more about Super Dominica and her amazing Caribbeans friends and their adventures. Honestly, you'll love it. I promise
My mum sadly lived in the UK,  so she left DA with me when I about a few months old and I have not managed to return to Dominica since. But after 21 years, and a series of trials and tribulations I had managed to overcome, I decided 2015 was the year I would go home and nothing was going to stop me. Not even the fact it’s pretty expensive and I needed to catch 4 flights: London to Newark; Newark to Charlotte; Charlotte to St Marteen and St Marteen to Dominica (because it's impossible to fly direct to DA from the UK or even some places in the USA). 
After flying 8 hours to New Jersey, I had to catch another three flights, the first leaving at 5am from Newark Airport. Sleep or not to sleep was the most important question of the night. Sleep won. Well, more like, 2 hour power nap before it was time to head to continue my journey home.
As we flew over Dominica, and I got my first glimpse of the island I remember proclaiming 'OMG IS THIS WHAT DOMINICA LOOKS LIKE? LOOKS LIKE WHAT I THOUGHT THE AMAZON RAIN FOREST WOULD LOOK LIKE.' But I was beyond excited and more than ready to step out of this plane and embrace all DA had to offer in the 2 weeks I was there, and I sure did embrace it. Within my first few hours on the island, I understood why DA has been described as 'the hidden gem of the Caribbean' and is also known as the 'Nature Island'. It is simply an exquisite island with so much allure and appeal. Dominica has most definitely captivated my heart, in a way I never a place could, more than I ever expected.

Despite being raised in England I've always considered myself Dominican and have always felt that was my home. I just have this natural affinity towards DA. My heart and soul have yearned for it, for years and years, and as soon as I landed in DA, my heart and soul were jumping for joy. I knew I was home. I felt so relaxed and at peace in way I've never felt in England or anywhere else in the world. I felt like Dominica and all its beauty embraced me in the tightest, warmest hugs anyone could ever get. Home is definitely where the heart is, and visiting DA allowed me to reclaim my heart and since returning to the UK, on a personal level I have grown so much. It's weird to explain but it's amazing being in a place where everyone is just like you from the type of the food we eat, to how we look, a shared identity and unspoken sense of being united as a people.  Even though, I have a lot of black and Caribbean friends in the UK, I don't have many Dominican friends and it's nice being somewhere, where you're surrounded by people whom, despite you might not know, share a connection with you, as we all originated from the same majestic island. And love it equally as much. I just felt so comfortable and free, so comfortable, I spent nearly everyday with my naturally kinky curly hair running wild and no make up on when I wasn't wearing my glasses, which is something I would never do in London. I didn't even care if my forehead or head looked big (I have a massive forehead, and a head which I am sure is abnormally big LOL) or if had gained a few lbs (which I did, but  all the tasty food I was eating, that was given). But I felt soo relaxed in DA, it wasn't a problem.

Whilst this was one of the best holidays of my life, and I had the opportunity "find myself" as cheesy as it sounds. I also got to spend time with my twin/Aunty who I only get to once a year sadly, my big cousin Dalty and see my favourite cousin Meno after a good few years. As well as meet some amazing new family members, and friends including my big giant Denzel, who is definitely one of the most awkward people I've ever met but I honestly love him soo much and can't wait to try visit Canada for some more awkward moments. 

Dalty, Aunty and I. These two helped make my trip so special. Especially my Aunty, who made this trip possible. She the best. And to show my appreciation, I thought I'd share this beautiful picture of us LOL! Because it's not fun taking pretty pictures all the time. Sometimes, be silly. Have a laugh at yourself, it's good for you. 

It was also bittersweet. My paternal granddad who I hadn't seen in about 3 years or so, passed away around 2/3 months after I returned to the UK, and Dominica was devastated by tropical storm Erika (RIP Granddad and all those who lost their life in the storm). But I am soo glad I got to spend, the little time I did with my granddad. As I didn't grow up with him, and didn't really know much about him, which really makes me sad but least I knew him a little and had the chance to have in my life for a short period of time which I will forever appreciate. I knew one thing for sure: how much he loved his family and how much his family loved and cherished him. I'm also grateful I managed to see all the beautiful and splendour of DA before Erika destroyed large parts of my island. 

This picture is so bittersweet, it’s one of the only pictures I have with my granddad, and this was the last time I saw him before he passed. But it’s a memory I'll forever cherish. RIPP and I know you're looking down on all of us smiling and guiding us through life. Granddad was a strong, smart, funny man, a quality that I, and all his children and grandchildren have taken on.
I could talk about DA, why I love it and all the stuff I done forever, but that would make an extremely long post, so I'll save what I done for a future post i'll do at some point and leave you with a few of my favourite pictures :) Enjoy

My beautiful Granny is one the strongest women I know and she's soo cool, using WhatsApp and that! She has the biggest heart ever, and she doesn't make half make me laugh. Getting to spend time with her was definitely a highlight of my trip. This was my last day in DA and Granny swears, we dressed the same 'accidentally' - she just wanted to twin with me, and if I can look this good at her age, well even better <3

This rock which resembles a Lions head is pretty cool. It's random natural gems like this, that makes DA what it is. A true natural beauty

Still trying to find a WIFI connection whilst my big cousin Dalty took my picture at Cabrits National Park 

Meeting new family members is always an experience. Genes are soo strong within my family honestly. Aunty Una (middle) is the spit of my nanny, they could literally be twins. Connie (on the left), too & she makes the best coconut rum punch I've ever had in my life.

At Emerald pool, I was initially too scared go under the waterfall, It looks pretty small but it was really powerful. I did eventually fo under, where I go an ear full of water, the took about a day to randomly come back out - was very very disgusting. Aunty, unlike me was  not scared to climb the rocks and go under the waterfall, Its fine thought, we are literally twins, so when I show people these pictures I can pretend it was me under the waterfall.

Princess Margaret Hospital where baby Keems took her first breath. Visiting the hospital where I was born was like begin able to go back to the beginning of  a book you've been reading for while, to remind yourself of how it all started. According to my cousin, the hospital has changed a lot since '93 (for the better ofc)

This fool Dalton, my crazy big cousin. He definitely played a big role in helping make my trip even more special. He's really something else but has a heart of gold and really makes me laugh, most times at him but often with him too. 

Viewpoint of Roseau (the capital city), I love this kind of view so much. Being up high looking over the towns and cities below, is just a wonderful feeling and can really help put things in perspective. Looking over towns like this, always makes me feel like I wanna make a difference in the world, I dunno why I feel like this when I am looking over places but I just do.
Where do you guys feel most at home? Drop me a comment and let me know. And remember Just smile! Each new day, is a day closer to summer :)

AK x

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Happy Self Love Day.

So, Valentine's day is definitely around the corner. And I'm still single.

This year, I'm changing my outlook. In past years, I've resented Valentines Day, dreading the whole hype surrounding it. The roses, chocolates, flowers, hearts and balloons everywhere. Loved up looking couples looking like they are floating on cloud 9. Honestly, I used to hate it and was semi jealous of all my friends with their partners, and all the blissfully happy looking couples. But as I grow older, I realised I don't hate Valentine's Day, but I do dislike the fuss made around it. Without sounding like some crazy, twisted, bitter, cynical; Valentine's Day, whilst the meaning behind it is beautiful, the actual day has become another overly commercialised holiday. Which has placed too much emphasis on over the top typical romantic gestures, and some people have lost the idea of what true romance is. In recent years, a lot of people have taken Valentine's Day as an opportunity to begin to be overly critical and harshly judge ourselves unfairly. It has created such a pressure on both girls and guys, particularly for those in my generation. Growing up, sometimes it felt you had dropped the F-bomb in church, if you didn't have a Valentines. As I girl I felt like I was ugly or undateable: Why did no-one want to be with me on what is supposed to be the most romantic day of the year? And I can't even imagine the pressure some of you guys must have felt; trying to plan something special, buying gifts and even having to build up the courage to ask a someone out (if you didn't already have a partner OFC). 

But it's not all doom and gloom. Despite being single, I'm actually looking forward to Valentine's Day. It's a day of love, and who doesn't love, love. Every year, I always say I want a Valentine's, because in 22 years of living I've never had one. Until I realised, I've had one every year all along: myself. This year I'm going to be my own valentine's. Valentine's is all about love and there's no greater love than self love. I guess it's true what they say, you can't expect others to love you until you love yourself. Self love and the process of cultivating it, is so important. The ability to respect, honor and be compassionate to yourself is a beautiful and powerful thing, and can change your life as well as your relationship with yourself as well as others.

"To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance" - Oscar Wilde

And that's what I'm learning to do everyday and what better day to start than the most romantic day of the year, and I'm really looking forward to it, pampering myself, spoiling myself, booked myself a yoga class and will be ending my evening with a trip to the cinema with one of my best friends Rhi!

So, for those of you alike, single on Valentines Day, don't be sad. Embrace it. Treat yourself. You don't need someone else to validate or prove how much love you deserve. You deserve an infinite amount of love, everyday not just on Valentine's Day. Don't forget there's always next year! And for those of you with a Valentine's, I hope you have an amazing loved filled day but the take home message still applies. Self love is key and the most important relationship you'll ever have! :)

So, in the words of Justin Beiber "You should go and love yourself" Just Smile & Happy Valentine's/Self Love Day guys ♡♡

Ak x