Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Next Stop: Vancouver, Victoria and Haiti


I'm kicking off my travel year by visiting places that I've been interested in exploring for years. First, I'll be headed to the vibrant metropolis surrounded by mountains and water called Vancouver. Destination British Columbia is hosting me for a dive into the city's culture and natural beauty. I'm especially excited to attend the Coastal First Nations Dance Festival where I'll witness indigenous songs, stories and dance. I'll also be exploring the Capilano Suspension Bridge, Granville Island, Punjabi Market and hiking near the North Shore Mountains, among other things in my packed itinerary. Then I'll hop a helijet to Victoria and take in the famous Butchart Gardens and other sights in this old world city, pictured below.


Next, I'm off to the unspoiled beauty of Haiti for the International Jazz Festival of Port- au- Prince. The strength and pride of Haiti, despite the country's challenges has always attracted me. I'm thrilled to finally experience Haitian culture as well as view famous landmarks like Citadelle Laferriere, the largest fortress in the Americas, built by formerly enslaved Africans and a UNESCO World Heritage Site,shown below. Please stay tuned for posts about my whirlwind experiences.




Monday, February 27, 2017

When Anguilla and Australia Meet




The best part of travel is meeting people who share experiences and stories that reflect how diverse and exciting the world truly is. On the flawless beach of Anguilla's Sandy Island, I met DJ Kristelle Morin, who performed as part of the Livin In The Sun EDM Festival. I'm not a huge fan of EDM (electronic dance music) unless it's the house music that I grew up with in Chicago. I need an element of emotion to enjoy music and most techno and electro music lacks that element. But I learned a few things when I met international DJs in Anguilla, especially a sunny-faced DJ named Kristelle Morin from Australia. Lounging on Sandy Island, Kristelle explained how she started out as a DJ in Sydney and travels between London where she works with  Tribe Records, and the rest of the world, spinning her music. It's not easy for women DJs to establish themselves in the EDM industry and Kristelle explained the challenges of pushing past the sexism and misogyny. What really intrigued me was how Kristelle mixes parts of her native Australian culture into her music. Although she specializes in deep soul house, she often weaves aboriginal chants between the beats.She not only blended the soulful singing of house but she added chanting for extra layers of emotion. It was the most evocative EDM music that I've ever heard. I watched her at the booth as the rhythms pumped from her turntables and indigenous chants floated over Anguilla's blue waves. It was almost like Australia and Anguilla were joining right before my eyes and it was an unforgettable feeling.