hOME Obulala an Amani ARCHIVES

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Ola! Am in Mexico


Soy yo Sasha Bulimo

Sasha Bulimo
Soy yo! Skybound and heavenly on the Caribbean Sea in Cancun, Mexico.

My Mexican adventure as a traveller and tourist

Lynda Asiko Bulimo
Ola! Lynda Bulimo on the beach at Playa del Carmen, Rivera Maya, Mexico.

By Lynda Bulimo, September 1 2013
I went and left Mexico with mixed feelings. Why? Recently, I have become a traveller that wants to see and experience the authentic culture of a country. For a week, my family and I stayed on a mass resort along the Mayan Riviera in the state of Quintana Roo called the Gran Bahia Principe. The resort itself had a pleasant atmosphere, with friendly staff and most amenities one would seek on an all-inclusive holiday. However, I went to Mexico with two perspectives; one simply as a tourist longing for an escape from a busy life in Canada and as a traveller with deep and educated perspectives. As a tourist, I basked in the sun by the pool and strolled along the white sandy beach. As a tourist, I jumped playfully in the waves of the Caribbean Sea. As a tourist, I indulged in the abundant food and drink and listened to mariachi; the closest I heard of Mexican music.

Lynda Bulimo
Making friends: A Mexican family we met in Playa del Carmen shopping strip.

Every holiday goer’s nightmare is that of rain ruining the fun in the sun.  During our stay there were two days of disappointment. However, one of the evenings when the rains calmed down, we went to Coco Bongo, a nightclub in the Playa del Carmen region. Coco Bongo was unlike any other club I have been to; there was a cabaret show of impersonations and Cirque du Soleil! We were entertained by the likes of Michael Jackson, Madonna, Lady Gaga and Beyoncé. The most elegant performance was the Cirque du Soleil of which I had the best view as the acrobats hovered above my head. The club has the capacity to hold 500 people but there were close to 1000 people which would be deemed a fire hazard in Canada. Despite the crowdedness, it was an interesting and exhilarating experience of dancing the night away with strangers.

On the resort, we met an Ismailia family that lives in Ottawa. “You have great hair, you look like the Queen of Bahia,” the father complimented me as we crossed ways in the dining hall.  I later found out that his family had a connection to Kenya. By just smiling or paying a compliment can open one up to meeting good people. We also met another nice Latino couple from New Jersey, who were always energized and wanted to make the most out of their holiday.

Lynda Bulimo
Historic: Mayan ruins at Tulum in Rivera Maya.

It was interesting to witness the behaviors and attitudes of the British and North American tourists. It made me recall a book entitled A Small Place by Jamaica Kincaid and shared the author’s frustrations with the tourism industry. Many of these tourists were oblivious to the everyday hardships of a large percentage of Mexicans. This year according to Mexican government data, 45.5% of Mexicans live below the poverty line. I will not say I was completely aware of the poverty rates in Mexico but my guilt was somehow assuaged by the little gifts we left in the hotel room and tips for genuine hospitality. Tourism is a large industry for Mexico and they strive to meet the needs of the typical tourist of predominately European descent. This can be found in the type (and lack) of entertainment at the hotel and the Western options of food and drink on and off the resort. I found Gran Bahia Principe Tulum sheltered us from a culturally rich coastline but I was indeed a tourist and there are issues of safety and trust I must consider.

Despite the tone of my account of Mexico thus far, I had some highlights as a traveller. Just like experiences in Jamaica, taking public transport called colectivo to Cancún was a chance to see some of the real Mexican coastline. It took us approximately two hours from the resort to the city of Cancún and we spent our time walking around and admiring the markets. We took a pit stop in a park and it was refreshing to see where the locals play with their children or take a break from work under a tree. Another highlight was strolling down 5th Avenue in the Playa del Carmen. Again, it is a tourist hotspot with restaurants and vendors constantly luring you to their merchandise. However, it was a perfect opportunity to take candid pictures on the public beach and read a magazine while my parents enjoyed a massage.

Jacqueline Bulimo
Scary: My parents, Shad and Jacqui Bulimo were ambushed by this weirdo at 5th Avenue, Playa del Carmen.

The historical aspect of our trip was visiting the Maya ruins in Tulum. I learnt it was one of the last built and inhabited trading cities of the Mayas between the 13th and 15th century. The city survived for about 70 years after the Spanish conquest of Mexico. Similar to Canadian history, Spanish settlers brought disease and caused the demise of many aboriginal peoples. Tulum is one of the best-preserved costal Maya ruins and frequented by tourists all year round. The azul (blue) sea was captivating and its tranquility unforgettable despite the hundreds of tourists strutting their stuff along the historic coastline.

If I decide to return to Mexico one day, I would make a conscious effort to learn some Spanish and talk to more locals. There are perks to being a tourist and a traveller at the same time and the mixed feelings are between my experiences as both.

My Trip to New York

Sasha BullimoNew York by Sasha Bulimo
Sasha Bulimo (left) and tour chaperones from Bishop O'Leary High School in Edmonton, Alberta during a school trip to New York (right)

By Sasha Bulimo, April 9 2013

Day 1:
After two tedious plane rides, it was a relief to finally arrive at the La Guardia airport in Queens, New York with my colleagues from the Drama Club of Bishop O’Leary High School, Edmonton. The atmosphere in the airport was surreal; perhaps because of the fatigue I endured, but all I know is that it was a feeling I have never experienced before! When we boarded the bus from the airport to our hotel, I looked out of the window in amazement as to how similar the buildings were in comparison to the ones in my hometown of London, UK. After settling in our Ramada hotel, our tour guide wasted no time; it took us around 30 minutes to walk from the hotel to Fifth Avenue and Times Square. Both places are busy with tourists and ordinary New Yorkers. Fifth Avenue, also known as the “most expensive street in the world”, is home to the most prestigious shops, while Times Square is known as “The Crossroads of the World”. Just as one would imagine it to be, Times Square is bright, busy, and beautiful. As our first day came to a close, we ate in a restaurant in Times Square called Bubba Gump; modelled after the famous movie ‘Forrest Gump’. We then returned to the hotel and slept immediately.

Day 2:
Because of a tight schedule, the wake-up time was 7AM; otherwise the group would leave without you. We ate breakfast in the hotel, and left at 9AM. As our group leader had planned, we took a ride on a “Hop on – Hop off’ city tour bus. While I appreciate the thought behind it, I much preferred walking with the tour guide in a more personalized expedition of the city. We got off the tour bus in the middle of Chinatown. Known for their low prices and ability to bargain, my drama group were free to wander and shop for three hours. Before that, the chaperones gave us all a prep talk on how to haggle prices. The method we were taught to use was to offer half the price, and if the seller didn’t agree, walk away pretending that we don’t want it unless the seller agrees to our price. In most cases, the vendor would stop you and agree, because they know they have to make a sale. I discovered something about myself while in Chinatown; I can bargain very well! By the end of the three hours, my hands were full of shopping bags. Since it was not logical to walk to dinner with our shopping bags, our group leader decided we go back to the hotel to rid ourselves of the excess baggage, and to freshen up for dinner. We ate in Times Square again, but this time at the Hard Rock Café, known for its rock and roll foundation. Once again, we walked a good 30 minutes back to the hotel to rest.

Day 3:
Our third day in New York rolled in quite rapidly; it goes to show how quickly time goes by. Our first stop of the day was at the Empire State building. Before we actually got the opportunity to stand at the top of the 102-storey Empire State, we went on a virtual or ‘simulated’ helicopter tour of New York City! It was extremely realistic, may I add! From there we took an elevator all the way up to the top floor of the building. The view was simply panoramic; no matter how many times you experienced it, it would always take your breath away. Another major site we had planned for the day was the UN (United Nations) building. It is said that even though the structure is geographically based in New York, once you enter the UN, you have entered all countries of the world. I honestly think that is a very interesting policy, and it is pretty cool too! I left the UN in high spirits, because I knew that officials are really working towards a common goal that we as inhabitants of this earth all share: world peace. We took a long walk from the UN to the restaurant ‘Heartland Brewery’. After dinner, we watched the highly anticipated Broadway show “Nice Work If You Can Get It”. The show was filled with lots of laughs and never failed to please throughout. I would recommend this play to everyone. This day was definitely the busiest and most influential to me.

Day 4:
By the fourth day, I can say I had adjusted to the time difference and the routine. After breakfast, we took a walking tour of the Flatiron District. This district is another one full of shops, important buildings, and many tourist sites. We visited the 9/11 memorial site, where there were two waterfalls in the place of the twin towers. The site was so peaceful and beautiful, like you would never imagine a horror happened to this amazing place over 10 years ago. After lunch, we took place in an Actors Workshop lead by Thurman Scott. Best friends with actor Robert De Niro, Mr. Scott has established an acting career spanning over 20 years. He built our confidence, and told us to acknowledge the nervousness we feel while performing as part of the business. I also learned that I should never resign to a role that society expects of me. Everyone in my drama group agreed that they felt a change in the way they see life. We ended the day with a simple dinner at the Sbarro restaurant reminiscing on the day.

Day 5:
We began our fifth day at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, with interesting art pieces from around the world. It is located in Central Park, with a few ‘sub-buildings’ around Manhattan. Our second stop was at the Radio City Music Hall located in Rockefeller Center. It is home to where all the music greats have performed, and to top all of that, it has been the leading tourist destination in the city. I felt honored to be situated in a place where most of the performers have been. The music hall was built in 1932, and has remained pretty much the same since then. Our next stop was at the NBC studios where they have taped many shows such as "The Cosby Show”, “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”, and "Different Strokes”. We went to the studio of “The Doctor Oz Show”, and witnessed how the production works. Then we went to the Saturday Night Live studio, the biggest one. It’s a bit weird, because on TV, the stage and set look so big, but in real life, they are honestly really small! After our visit to the NBC studios, we took a walk to our final destination of the day. While we dined at Sofia’s restaurant, we watched a two-person play called “How 2 Be a New Yorker”, chronicling everyday aspects a New Yorker has to deal with. Although this play was not as lavish as our first one, I still give it a thumbs up!

Day 6:
Our final day in New York crept up on us. We had five hours of free time, mostly spent in Chinatown, buying last-minute souvenirs. We then returned to the hotel and picked up our luggage to board the bus that transported us to the La Guardia airport. I have to admit, I was very sad leaving, because this was the most fun I’ve had in a while! Unfortunately, it went by so quickly, but great thing never last, and time flies when you’re having fun!

View atop scenic Banff vistas


By Lynda Bulimo, July 18 2010
I have always been intrigued by the Rocky Mountains since I did a project on mountain ranges in Year Six at school in England.  Now living just four hours away from the famous Rockies, I couldn’t wait for a chance to be up close and personal.
We set off from Edmonton and travelled down to Banff, a region in south western Alberta which is a popular tourist attraction with my family and best friend, Andrea Ford who is on vacation from England.  Although I was very much looking forward to see the mountains from a close range, I lost my nerves when I, my sister Sasha and Andrea boarded the gondola that was to take us up the summit. However, once inside the gondola, there was no going back and moreover it was a magnificent way to conquer my height phobia.
Within minutes we were up and away into the grey skies. If the ground scenery was fantastic, the view from the top was surreal. Like a scene out of Twilight Saga movie, the view over the forest below and the mountains is imbued with suspense and intrigue. It was simply breathtaking; I felt like I was journeying to a mystical land where I’ll be surrounded by angels.
Going up to higher altitudes, my ears began to pop and hurt, the kind of sensation you feel when the plane is taking off and landing. I didn’t bother me and having conquered my fears, I concentrated on looking down to see if I could spot and photograph bears which roam Albertan wilderness.  However, I was unlucky in this search but I did see mountain climbers which I thought was very brave of them; in fact quite encouraging. The snow on the mountains adds a really pretty decorative bonus to the beauty of the Rockies as seen in the photograph below.

Lynda Bulimo, Sasha Bulimo and Andrea Ford
Best Friends Forever: From left: Lynda Bulimo, Sasha Bulimo and Andrea Ford trying out a tricle at the Waterton Campsite in southern Alberta, Canada.
Sasha Bulimo in banff gondola
Up up and away. The gondola rises up the mountain summit in the Canadian Rockies at Banff National Park, Alberta. Below: Lynda Bulimo (left) and her best friend, Andrea Ford from England.
Andrea Ford and Lynda Bulimo
Mountain High in the Canadian Rockies

By Andrea Ford, July 18, 2010
I never thought I’d see so much in a two-week trip. I left my home in England for a vacation in Canada not sure what to expect.  All that changed when I visited the Canadian tourist resort of Banff, Alberta. Here, aboard a tiny Gondola, I had a breathtaking panoramic view of the Rocky Mountains, the second longest mountain range in the world after the Andes of South America. Suspended in the blue sky like a crystal raindrop and surrounded by puffs of white clouds, each taking its own individual form, I marvelled at this natural phenomenon created more than 76 million years ago.

I’ve always been fascinated by how clouds drift along the skies together and always wondered if I could possibly float above the fluffy surface or whether it would simply dissolve away in my fingertips.  To see these vistas from a close range took my breath away and is more beautiful than I could have imagined. I mean; I have seen sights from high above ground before, but nothing quite like in Banff.

Spectacular views

As I, my best friend Lynda and her younger sister Sasha boarded the Gondola, I felt a sudden rush of excitement while Lynda, who is acrophobic, panicked. But as we rose from the ground, everyone enjoyed the spectacular views with gorgeous fresh blue rivers glistening below and the large village transformed into a miniature wonderland.  

The journey took only eight minutes to reach mountain top but in that short time, we were transported to a world full of rocky wonders.  Along the way we spotted some brave mountain climbers doing their beloved sport and I imagined it must have taken them hours to reach their destination. I know from my mountain climbing knowledge what an exhausting but exhilarating experience that can be; only this time I was at the mountain top with little physical effort.

Although the journey from Edmonton via Montana in USA and to Banff felt like the longest five days of my life, I am glad I went as an opportunity to see these world acclaimed vistas is certainly worth the journey and will remain with me for as long as I can hope to remember.

My gondola trip in Banff, Canada

By Sasha Bulimo, July 18, 2010
Canada is home to one of the longest and major mountain range not only in North America, but in the world. Can you guess which mountain range I’m talking about? That’s right: The Rocky Mountains! Currently, much of the mountain range is protected by national parks and is a popular tourist destination, especially for hiking, camping, skiing, snowboarding and fishing. Banff National Park in Alberta gives you a closer look at the Rocky Mountains. However, to get even closer to the mountain range, most tourists use a Gondola, a type of lift that takes you up the mountains. This is truly one of the best ways to see the mountains of the Canadian Rockies. The ride itself takes eight minutes and brings you to the summit of the mountain and back.
My Experience:
When my sister Lynda, her friend Andrea and myself stepped foot on the Gondola for the first time, we were all frightened but excited at the same time. The Gondola itself was only a small capsule, holding only four people at a time. As I took my seat in the Gondola, I was expecting a seat belt of some sort. However, there was none so this reassured me that this ride was going to be safe and smooth. When the Gondola launched, I looked up, and saw how high it had to climb. Still feeling frightened but with nowhere to run to, the ride went on and before we knew it we were already halfway up the mountain top. Although this was the scariest part the views were absolutely spectacular. We were so high up I was no longer able to pin-point the area where my parents were waiting. I couldn’t see them; I couldn’t see anything down below at all. But, I’ll tell you what I did see.

Andrea Ford
The three musketeers: From left: Lynda Asiko Bulimo, Andrea Ford and Sasha Atemo Bulimo at Waterton National Park on the border of USA and Canada.
Mountain Top: On the mountain top, I saw cold, hard snow that still doesn’t show any signs of melting from the last winter. I saw phenomenal, mature trees that dominated the vegetation around the Canadian Rockies. I even saw bears and deer’s resting in their habitat. Guess what? I also saw hikers! When the Gondola eventually reached the peak of the mountain, I could literally see the whole of Banff! An absolutely captivating Gondola experience!
Lynda Bulimo
Lynda Bulimo: My beautiful hairdo in Jamaica.
My Jamaican adventure

By Lynda Bulimo, Aug 26 2009
Jamaica is a place I’ve always been intrigued about since I was young. Growing up in London, I had many Jamaican friends and teachers. The parents of my Jamaican friends spoke with a very distinct accent, and I knew it wasn’t very “African”. So where in the world could they possibly be from? In my naivety, I thought all black people come from Africa. This is true given what I now know about the history of the Trans Atlantic slave trade. So I was delighted to get the opportunity to visit the beautiful Caribbean island, to see for myself just what makes Jamaica tick. More...

My jammin' Jamaican trip

By Sasha Bulimo, Aug 26 2009
On the evening of Friday, August 8th 2009, my family and I made our way to the airport. I was so excited and thrilled that we were “actually” going to Jamaica, the land of relaxation and music! More...

Sasha Bulimo
Sasha Bulimo striking a pose at the beach in MoBay.
Bob Marley's house in Trench Town
Bob Marley's humble beginnings in Trench Town with his first car in foreground.
jaimacan street musician
Busking for survival in downtown Ocho Rios. Locals call it 'Ochi'
Montego Bay Airport
Stilted clown welcoming tourists to Jamaica at Sangster International Airport.
Bob Marley Museum
Bob Marley Museum in uptown Kingston, Jamaica.
Luhya girls
The Bulimo girls lost in the streets on Kingston, Jamaica
Ocho Rios
A street in downtown Ocho Rios. Locals call it Ochi.
Bob Marley Statue
The Bulimos with Bob Marley in Trench Town
Ukrainean Rastafarian
Coming in from the cold: Ukrainean Rasta in MoBay
jamaican Tourist Police
One Love: Jamaican Tourist Police say yah man!

Robert Ayieko
Robert Ayieko in the saddle at Banff National Park, Alberta.
Ayieko, Kasoa in Banff

Aug 26 2009
It was a first one for Robert Ayieko and his friend, Albertina Mutheu Kasoa. The couple are seen here in enjoying horse riding in the vast Canadian resort of Banff National Park in Alberta over the weekend. Mr Ayieko who moved from London to work in Calgary eight months ago.

Albertina Kasoa
Albertina Kasoa closely follws Robert behind at Banff, Canada