The Reveal: “Trailblasian”

The wait is over! Today, I reveal just what was in the box of my special mail delivery- what I had been waiting for with excitement! It’s something fitted with its own unique name, summed up by one word: Trailblasian!

 Trailblasian by T.K. McLennon

So, what’s Trailblasian, and why am I so excited about it? Good questions, right? Trailblasian is the brainchild of author T.K. McLennon. It’s a rare and daring anthology that gives voice to an often unheard segment of society- black women traveling the globe. It gives you a peak into the sometimes joyous, sometimes turbulent journeys of 17 amazing and courageous black women who left the familiarity of their home countries for varying reasons to face the unknown and experience life in East Asia.

Among those 17 women, I am honored to have had my story included in what I believe is a great work and effort to give a platform for black women to share their stories with others in the world who may not know that we also travel internationally. In my story, I give readers a little glimpse into my experience living in South Korea, the first country I ever traveled to outside of the U.S. It was a journey that I can honestly say added to my life in exponential ways of which I’m still reaping blessings from, including the opportunity to share my story in Trailblasian, something I never even imagined would happen when I made the simple decision to leave home and venture to Korea.

Trailblasian 006

Everyone has their own experiences in this life, and each of the women in Trailblasian shares something that will resonate with readers of a melting pot of nationalities, cultures, ages, backgrounds, education, gender- the list is endless. I was eager to find out what readers might take away from my story, so I had a friend of mine read it and share her thoughts. So, without further ado, I invite you to check out our sit-down interview to find out what she had to say!

To order your copy of Trailblasian, click here.

I’m so happy you stopped by, so much so that I’d like to hear from you! Be sure to drop me a line in the comments section or if you have something more private, you’re welcome to contact me here. I also invite you to follow me on my Facebook page  Pursuing Dreams and Experiencing the World. Plus, don’t forget to sign-up to follow my blog to get the latest as I share more on my experiences ahead.

Categories: Books, dreams, Entertainment, Inspiration, Inspirational, Motivational, South Korea, Teaching EFL/ESL experience, Travel, U.S., Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Special Delivery: I’ve Got Mail!

Got Mail

I’ve got mail! I’ve got mail! I’ve been waiting for this and finally it’s here- special delivery! Wouldn’t you like to know what it is? It’s something that was never even on my radar when I made the decision to pursue my dream of traveling the world back in 2009. However, you will never truly know all that can spring from one simple decision to step out on faith, believing that with God all things are possible.  I can’t wait to share with you what’s in the box. Stay tuned for the exciting reveal coming real soon!

While you’re waiting, I invite you to check out my Facebook page, Pursuing Dreams and Experiencing the World. Head on over so you can be inspired and inspire others to dream and achieve!

Categories: dreams, goals, God, hopes, Inspiration, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Butterfly Jewel Coming Soon…

Coming Soon

Maybe you’ve been following my journey, or maybe it’s your first time here. Well, I want to say welcome, welcome, welcome! Ooh wee!!! Let me tell you. I’ve been on a long hiatus from sharing my travels here, much too long, but am thrilled to announce, I’m back! Not only am I back, but I’ve got a renewed inspiration, ideas that have been popping off and so much I want to share. I’m walking through an open door right now and am inviting you to come alongside me. Get ready! Get ready! Get ready! Butterfly Jewel has much in store to share coming soon!!!

Categories: dreams, Entertainment, goals, hopes, Inspiration, Inspirational, Motivation, Motivational, Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Living Abroad: My Villa in Saudi Arabia

Ever been to Saudi Arabia? If not, you’re probably wondering what it’s like. Well, here I’d like to give you a little glimpse into what it was like living there for me as an English teacher.

I lived in three different cities while there: Al Jouf, Riyadh, and Tabuk. Each city yielded a very different experience, especially in terms of living situations. In Riyadh, I lived within the city amongst the locals in a 4-bedroom flat (basically an apartment) in a hotel in a decent area with three roommates. In Al Jouf, I lived in a 2-bedroom villa on a compound out in the desert with one roommate. In Tabuk, I lived on a compound as well, in a 2-bedroom villa away from the city center with one roommate.

Let me tell you a bit more about my villa in Tabuk. Besides the 2 bedrooms, there were also 2 private bathrooms, both with bathtubs and showers. There was a living and dining room and a study. There was a laundry room equipped with a washer and dryer, as well as an extra sink. There was a kitchen with full appliances- refrigerator, stove with an oven and blender. There was a small patio and a garden outside which had rosemary and dates. It was air-conditioned with cable TV and wi-fi. For pictures, click here.

Now, I invite you to check it out in this brief video.

Have any questions or something to share? Feel free to leave a message below. Want to reach me privately? Click here. By the way, if you want a guy’s perspective on Saudi Arabia, visit my ESL/EFL Teachers’ page in the Resources section above. There, you’ll find Mark Payne’s blog where you can find stories from his experience in Saudi Arabia.

You can follow me to get my latest stories by signing-up on the upper left side of my blog.

Categories: apartment, Saudi Arabia, Teaching EFL/ESL experience | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Living Abroad: My Apartment in Peru (Part 2)

So, maybe you’re thinking about moving to Peru or you’re just curious about what apartments are like there. Well, welcome to Part 2 of Living Abroad: My Apartment in Peru. If you haven’t seen Part 1 yet but would like to, just click here. There you can check out the video tour as I walk-through my apartment giving a little commentary on each room. However, in Part 2, I’ve shared a new video slide show and a few pictures below that you can also view in more detail on Flickr. Plus, I’m going to share a little more information about apartments in Peru.

kitchenkitchenliving roombathroombedroombedroom

Peruvian Apartment, a set on Flickr.

In Peru, 1-bedroom apartments are not always easy to find and are usually more costly than apartments with more than one room. In fact the apartment I was initially planning to rent was a 2-bedroom with 2 bathrooms which was cheaper than the 1-bedroom I decided to rent, and it included the internet, water and I believe electric bill already figured into the rent. Traditionally, most Peruvians live at home with their families until they marry, whenever that shall be. However, even if one moves away from home, most still opt to live with roommates instead of living alone. For that reason, you will mostly find apartments with two or more rooms. However, there are other types of housing to choose from besides apartments including hostels, homes and boarding houses (with private rooms and bathrooms but sharing other rooms, like the kitchen). As a matter of fact, when I first arrived in Peru, I stayed in two hostels (one in Lima when I made it there and another that my employer set us up in, paying for the first two nights) until I found my apartment. In both, I had a private bedroom and bathroom.

Utilities Paid

Now, let’s get back to apartments. Depending on who you rent from, you may have to pay for utilities as I did. I paid for electricity, water, trash, internet and phone, in addition to my rent. To alleviate some costs, I decided for my owner not to provide cable, as it would have been added to my rent, and I don’t really watch much television anyway.

The most expensive utility in Peru is electricity. Peruvians try to reduce this cost as much as possible. Most homes and buildings have solar-powered water heaters. Of course, you know with these, the hot water runs out eventually as it’s used for the day. Plus, you have those days where there’s no sunshine which translates to no hot water. Fortunately, for me, I didn’t have to worry about that because I had an electric water heater. So, all I had to do was turn it on at least an hour before I wanted to take a shower or wash my hair and turn it off afterwards. Usually, it would heat up several gallons of water, so this could last for a day or more without me turning it on again which can be seen as yet another money-saving action to reduce the use of electricity.

Apartment Flooring

So, let me share a little about the interior. Most floors in homes are made with parquet (wooden panels) as my floor was in the living room and bedroom. This was beautiful but requires frequent upkeep by sweeping or dust-mopping and shining (on your hands and knees unless you have one of the broom-like instruments for it) with a paste or liquid designed for such floors, or it will get very dull. Let me tell you. That is hard work, too, if you have to do it by hand as I did like my landlord had her granddaughter show me.

Appliances Included and Purchased

As far as appliances, a lot of apartments will be unfurnished unless you’re renting from a private landlord, as I did, who will usually already have their apartment(s) furnished with appliances. I had a small refrigerator, tiny stove with an oven and a TV (which I didn’t use). Although the oven was very tiny, I was able to find cooking dishes to fit inside for baking. It was also a gas stove for which I had to buy maybe about 2 propane gas tanks to fuel it while I was there. I was able to buy a blender and other things for the kitchen from the supermarket just a few steps from where I lived.

I also purchased a brand new washing machine. Most Peruvians hand-wash and hang their clothes outside to air-dry or take their clothes to laundry shops that wash and dry for you. However, I didn’t have such good experiences the couple of times I took my clothes to the shops. At the first shop, most of all my dark clothes were returned to me faded, and at the second shop, I was charged a lot more for less clothes, and they completely pressed one of my dresses out of shape, stretching all of the elastic parts where it was designed to be fitting, making it look like an old granny dress. However, most expatriates do use the shops for cleaning their laundry. Although, I think it could help you save in the long run to buy a washer if you’re planning to stay for a long time, if you don’t mind hand-washing, that will be your best money-saver. They do have shops that sell used appliances; however, most of the used washers I found cost almost as much as, if not significantly higher than, some of the new ones.

Windows and Saving Energy

Also most apartments are built with lots and lots of large windows. In Peru, many apartments and homes do not have air-conditioners or heaters. When it’s hot, they just open the windows. It didn’t really get extremely hot or cold in Arequipa, although it was cold enough for me because I don’t like to be cold at all. You survive by dressing warm at home when the temperatures do drop, but they do sell small heaters if you’d like to buy one. Another reason for the many windows is to help save energy and cut down on electric costs. They usually have light-colored, transparent curtains on the windows allowing the natural light in during the daytime to light their homes instead of turning on the lights inside. While my apartment had windows in each room, it didn’t have as many as some of the other apartments I had seen which maybe some people would have considered it a bit dark since not as much light was able to come in as others.

Showers, No Bathtubs

One more thing, if you’re a fan of taking long, warm baths with scented candles or essential oils while listening to some relaxing music, then you probably won’t get to do that in Peru (and quite a few other countries either). Most apartments and homes only have showers, no bathtubs. Some of my Peruvian friends gave me some reasons as to why. One said that Peruvians only use the bathroom for getting clean, not relaxing, and want to do it quickly. Another said that because most homes have solar-powered water heaters, baths would use a lot of hot water, and it would be very uncomfortable in the winter months when there is no sun which means no hot water, to sit in a tub of cold water. However, funnily, I love my baths so much that I was going to buy a bathtub to have installed into my apartment. The only thing that stopped me was that they were all too large to fit in my bathroom. Bummer! When I asked my Peruvian friend why the tubs were so large, he said maybe because they’re considered a luxury there. However, they weren’t that expensive. The cheapest was just about a hundred U.S. dollars or less! I have some good news, though. Since I’ve been back home this year, I’ve found out about portable bathtubs. So, the next time I travel abroad to a place where I don’t have a bathtub, I’ll be ordering one of those bad boys because I need my baths! It’s a relaxation thing.

Search Suggestions

Well, that’s all I can think of when it comes to apartments in Peru. Oh, there is one thing I learned from my search that might be helpful. The best way to find an available apartment there is by meeting people and asking around. That’s how I found my place, as well as some other expats. The second best way would be to search through a local newspaper.

If you have any questions for me, feel free to drop me a message in the comments section below or you can get in touch with me through my contact form. I would love to hear from you! Plus, if you’d like to get upcoming posts delivered directly to your inbox, you can follow me by entering your email address and clicking the sign-up button in the left hand column of this page. Thanks for dropping in!  :-)

Categories: apartment, bathroom, Teaching EFL/ESL experience, Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Living Abroad: My Apartment in Peru (Part 1- Video Tour)

In 2012, I was able to come closer to my goal of living in or traveling to all of the continents when I decided to pack my bags once again, taking a new job as an English teacher and heading down to South America for another exciting experience in another part of the world I had yet to explore. I settled into Arequipa, Peru, “The White City”, nestled in a valley surrounded by the snow-capped Andes Mountains. It boasts of almost 300 days of sunshine and has a culture that intermingles a bit of the old with the new and lots of rich, bright colors. After over a week’s search through homes and apartments with leads and help from a few people, I finally settled on a place recommended by my soon-to-be Canadian neighbor who happened to be the owner of the only fish-n-chips restaurant in the city.

My apartment was owned by an older Peruvian couple which had the small apartment building built behind their home. There were only three units- mine, my Canadian neighbor’s and the daughter of the owners with her husband and daughter. Although not like an apartment in the U.S., as none I’ve lived in abroad have been, it was of pretty decent standards for Arequipa, Peru. Now, I invite you to take a short video tour of it, and you can tell me what you think.

If you haven’t seen what apartments are like in East Asia before, you can also catch a brief video tour of my apartment in Korea, by clicking here. Stay tuned for Part 2 of “Living Abroad: My Apartment in Peru” where I’ll share pictures, too. Oh, and feel free to ask me any questions about Arequipa or Peru in general, as well as any about living abroad or teaching English. Plus, I invite you to sign-up to follow me as I share more of my experiences and journey as I pursue my dreams.

Categories: apartment, dreams, English, goals, Teaching EFL/ESL experience, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Teaching English: Making My Dream to Travel the World a Reality

My last whole day in Korea 003Since 2009, I’ve lived in 3 countries abroad and visited several others. The countries I’ve lived in have been as diverse in culture as ice cream and pickles. Some people have found this to be very courageous, and some wonder how I was able to do this. It’s been my dream since I graduated high school to travel the world. Early in 2009, at the suggestion of an acquaintance, I decided to pursue a career that would allow me to take the first step to make my dream a reality. I would become an English as a foreign/second language (EFL/ESL) teacher.

Because of that decision, I’ve been able to travel to some amazing places in the world. By choosing to work as an EFL/ESL teacher, I’ve been able to utilize my funds and benefits offered by some of my teaching gigs to afford my travels. Before deciding to get certified to teach ESL/EFL, I had been a teacher in the U.S. public school system for several years, so I already had a little teaching experience, although I’ve known teachers who’ve taught English abroad who had no experience before teaching ESL/EFL and many places do not require teachers to have any.

The first country I taught in abroad was South Korea. Having some money saved, I was able to purchase my flight ticket there which the school reimbursed me for within a few weeks of my arrival. The cost of living there was quite low, and my apartment was paid for by my school. So, I was able to save quite a bit of my salary. The school paid for my flight ticket back home, and I received a bonus for completing my contract. So, I had money to take back with me.

My second country to teach in abroad was Saudi Arabia. The company paid for my flight ticket there and housing. Because I still had previous savings and was able to save a large portion of my salary there, I was able to travel to a few countries during vacations. I had enough money saved to pay for my return flight home since I left a little earlier than planned losing out on the free flight home.

My third country to teach in abroad was Peru. I still had some savings left before I went. So, I was able to buy a round-trip flight ticket there, as most schools in Latin American countries do not offer to pay or reimburse airfare. This would be a shorter stay and probably a good idea because there really wasn’t an opportunity for me to save, and I had to spend most of my savings to make up for what my wages didn’t cover. To experience Latin America was great, but the ability to save wasn’t the greatest.

So, that’s how I’ve been able to afford traveling the world through my career as an ESL/EFL teacher. I haven’t finished traveling, though. There are yet more continents and countries that I’d like to traverse before I can feel that I’ve truly accomplished my dream of traveling the world to the full. So far, my vehicle to do so has been teaching English, but who knows? Maybe I’ll continue on as an ESL/EFL teacher, or at some point, I’ll change and do it some other way. I invite you to sign-up to follow me to see what happens. Cheers! :-)

~

If you’re considering teaching English abroad and want a few tips, you can check out my page “Teaching Abroad Tips” or an article I wrote on Hubpages titled “Traveling the World Via Teaching English”.

Categories: dreams, English, goals, Inspiration, Motivation, Teaching, Teaching EFL/ESL experience, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Bugging Out: “Where in the World is Butterfly Jewel?”

bugging out by Butterfly Jewel

You know, I was so bugging out by the abundance of Voltswagen Beetles (or Bugs) in this country. I just had to have my picture taken next to one before I left. Even though this country stopped its assembly of them in 1987, you would think they are still being produced by the sheer number of them you see there. Back home in the U.S., it’s rare to see one of these. So you can imagine how in awe I was to see so many, in almost every color you can imagine.

Aside from the popularity of the Voltswagen Bug, this country also loves 80’s rock, almost as if it’s what’s new today. You can almost bet that when you enter a taxi, the driver will tune into a station playing some 80s rock, especially if you speak English. One of it’s traditional entrees is guinea pig (or cuy) which I was told is pretty expensive. I got mixed reviews from natives there, some who liked it a lot and some who were totally adverse to the thought of eating it. I never tried it, so I can’t really tell you about it myself. I did try a few other traditional cuisines like adobo and ceviche. However, though this wasn’t Mexico, my favorite prepared food to eat was the Mexican soft taco which you could get with chicken, pork, beef or the mixto (a mix of all three). Oh, my goodness! There was a small vendor near me that had made the absolute best chicken tacos! Boy, do  I ever wish I had some now!

A couple other facts about this country include Spanish being its native language and it also shares the Andes Mountain range with several other countries. Last but not least, it has the city known as “The White City” and has around 300 days of pure rain-free sunshine a year.

So, do you think you know which country Butterfly Jewel experienced all this in? Go ahead and leave your guess in the comments, and I’ll let you know if you got it right. :-)

Categories: Entertainment, Food, tourist spot, Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Aint No Mountain High Enough: “Where in the World is Butterfly Jewel?”

Untitled by Butterfly Jewel

Still hoping to fulfill my dream of traveling to seven of the world’s continents, during my touchdown on this particular continent, I hopped the border to this beautiful country where I got a little taste of life near the beach and life in the mountains. Here you won’t really find air-conditioners or central heating units because the weather doesn’t get too extreme, well at least not to the people of the region. However, I was cold!!! Then again, I’m not the best person to look to when it comes to temperature because I don’t like to get cold at all, and usually anything under 75 degrees Fahrenheit is kind of chilly to me.

Not many foreign currencies have much value there. So make sure you have lots of money to spare when you go because the exchange rates, even for the dollar, are the lowest I’ve experienced out of all the countries I’ve traveled to so far, at least in the city where I chose to exchange my money. This country also shares its well-known mountain range with seven other countries. Plus, it is one of its continent’s most stable and prosperous countries.

So, where in the world do you think Butterfly Jewel is? Go ahead and share the country you think this is. I’ll be checking the comments to see who gets it right! So make sure to come back and see if you do :-).

Categories: dreams, goals, hopes, tourist spot, Travel, Uncategorized, vacation | Tags: , , , , , , | 19 Comments

MY NEW BOOK!!! “A Very Thankful Story”

In 2009, I left the U.S. for the first time ever to teach English in Korea. Little did I know that out of that experience I would write a simple story for my students which has now become my very first published children’s book titled, “A Very Thankful Story”. Who knew that my dream to travel the world would lead to me fulfilling another dream of publishing a children’s book? Well, I have, and I invite you to check it out at www.lulu.com/spotlight/TaiwandaBason.

Anything is possible!

Categories: dreams, English, Entertainment, Inspirational, language, learn, Motivational, South Korea, Students, Teaching EFL/ESL experience, Travel, U.S., Uncategorized, writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

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