Monday, September 12, 2011

Oh France, how I miss thee...

This is a really random post. I am sitting here transcribing interviews for work and all of a sudden I started thinking about my first day in France almost 4 years ago. My very first experience that day was the “lotto” at my little sister’s school. This is what French people call Bingo. I am here laughing out loud at all of the things that confused the heck out of me that very first day. First, I had no clue they used kilometers in France, so when I noticed my host mom doing 110 on the highway, I was really scared. Then the lotto thing at the school, I was like, “really? Lotto for 12 year olds?” Finally, I remember buying my first thing in France, it was a bag of chips; I was excited because I was so hungry. I love cheese so of course I went for what I thought were cheese doodles. Let’s just say I thought wrong! They were peanut butter puffs and although I love peanut butter, these were so nasty.  I ended up going to bed hungry because I was too shy to ask my host mom for food on the first day.

That was my first day in France; the remaining 6 months were full of similar experiences. For example I ordered a Martini at a bar and it turned out to be the brand Martini that was so nasty it tasted like chicken bullion. I also ordered a Caesar salad once and got eggplants, eggs, salami and a whole lot of other stuff in my salad, it was good still. I miss France. I have to admit that I really enjoyed myself and took advantage of being there. I joined a gym, I volunteered at a bakery where I learned to bake bread with homeless people for homeless people. Oh and I almost forgot, I also went to school.

How could I forget all of the incredible friends I made? Going to St. Tropez, Nice, Paris, Aix, ahhhhhh! I want to go back so badly. Thank you France you were really good to me and I haven’t forgotten about you, hopefully we will see each other again really soon!!!!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Dear Mis Aventuras Around the World and Followers,

I have to confess that I have abandoned you because I am currently in an affair with this site called Remember how I use to write about my hair experiences here? How I had to create Dominicana Going Natural and Cabello Bueno because this blog was becoming too much about hair. Well this time I went all the way, yes all the way. (miss curls) is a site entirely in Spanish, yes you can only imagine how much I am struggling with the grammar and the writing, let's just call it challenging. It is about hair, natural hair that is. I am loving it because unlike MAATW I actually interact with people everyday. Women from literally all over the world send me questions about their hair. Now all you know me enough to realize that although I like hair, this is not really just about hair. It is a reaffirmation that I am beautiful as I am, naturally. It is a space that validates the beauty of women who are already natural or going through the process, contrary to most of the messages they get from society (that's here in the DR, as it is in US, Africa and many places in the world, the Standard of beauty is pretty Standard).

I started Miss Rizos because I saw the incredible need for a site like this for Dominican women and Latinas specifically. I obviously speak English and never felt the need to find a blog in Spanish, but I did want to hear more about the Latino perspective about hair because let's be honest, overall Latinas are way behind when it comes to accepting that many of them are descendants of Africans who were brought to this side of the world and enslaved. Lord knows that I have Black in me, showing itself in my beautiful dark skin and kinky hair.

I realized that although many Dominican women and Latinas weren't quite there yet with admitting, embracing and loving their shared heritage, there needed to be a place where people would be able to express themselves about what this all meant to them. I believe it is important to have a space where ideas are shared and respected, where a young women who writes that she went natural because it made her feel like an "Explosive Mulatta" can read about the young women who wrote about going natural because it signified her acceptance of being Black and vise-versa.

So on the 4th of July I celebrated my 1st year fully natural (the Afroversary) and coincidently, I launched the site the same day. The response has been quite incredible and at times even overwhelming. I will share some links bellow of some videos that my girl Paloma Valenzuela from La Gringa Loca Productions made for It was incredible working with her.

In these two months I have made new friends, talked about curls more than I could've ever imagined, slept very little, wrote many emails, yet I am incredibly happy about this entire thing. Let's just say that this Sunday August 28th along with a fellow blogger Pat Natural, from Go Natural Caribe, I will be hosting the FIRST natural hair meet-up in the Dominican Republic, pretty big deal right? Yes, like I said, I am super excited!!

Well folks, I promise I will try to come back here every so often because I really do love this place a lot. I will also keep you posted on all of the curly things happening at Miss Rizos. Check it out btw! We are also on Facebook as Miss Rizos and of course we are on Twitter as Miss_Rizos, oh wait and did I mentioned that we are also on Youtube as lamissrizos. Ok enough with all this curly stuff. Hugs and kisses to all. Check out these videos!

These are so site we appeared on

 Thank you…


Friday, July 15, 2011

Senegal: Gore Island

This was one of the most unique experiences I have had in my 20 odd years on this earth. For those who don't know, Gore Island is a small port in Dakar, Senegal where hundreds of years ago men, women and children were enslaved and forced to migrate to the Americas. I am getting goosebumps from just writing this because it is taking me back to all of the emotions I felt when I was on the island. The slave house on the island is still there and running as a tourist attraction. The guides recount the stories of many enslaved Africans who were shipped to Cuba, Brazil, the US, and all over Latin America and the Caribbean. Entire families were split up and sold and traded in different countries. One could trade a mirror for a young lady.

The facilitators running the YOWLI conference created a small ceremony where we did a libation, a prayer and we broke bread and shared it with each other while the participants from the Diaspora (people in the world with African descent) said, "You are a part of me" and the African participants said, "And I am a part of you." There were many tears during the entire ceremony. I broke down as soon as I walked in the place. It pained me to know that this ever took place, but even more the thought that we are still dealing with modern day slavery today.

I couldn't help but to wonder where did my descendants come from? How did they get to the "New World?" I guess this explains why I feel like it is so important to acknowledge ones blackness, it is somehow in honor to all of those people who were enslaved, brutally mistreated, dehumanized, raped, sold, beaten, and forced to move to a place where they would continue to be discriminated, stereotyped, targeted, and the list goes on.

I am against the argument that many of my counterparts often argue, "It happened in the past, leave it there." We can't leave it there because we are still suffering all of the consequences from this tragic historical disaster. When I say we I am speaking of all of the people from the Diaspora and those in Africa and all of those who are being enslaved today. It should not stay in the past because today millions of women and children are being illegally trafficked and smuggled around the world, including the USA. We should do the complete opposite of this and keep this event close to our hearts and minds so that we are reminded that we need to fight against injustices even if it is at a community level and that community can be your school, your department at work, your gym, you street, wherever it is, just try and make this world a little better each day, not only for my future children and yours, but for us, today, now.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Senegal: Drums at Sunset

The sound of the drum was a big part of my trip. In this particular occasion we visited one of the supervisor's home. There was tons of dancing too, but I made sure to put my camera away, let's just say there was some SERIOUS dancing happening. I love to move to the sound of the drum and I wasn't the only one, there were lots of children dancing and jumping around to the drum beats. To top it off, the sun was setting and the lighting was just incredible. 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Senegal: Faces

Here are some of the great people I met in Senegal. They came from all over Africa, here we have friends from Ghana, Senegal, Kenya, South Africa, Rwanda and Zimbabwe. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Senegal: Cool Patterns and Shades


Finally, after promising to post these pictures of my trip to Dakar, Senegal from back in December of this year, I have decided to post pictures all week. I will also take some time to write a bit about the amazing opportunity of visiting an African country and meeting people from all across Africa.

The Reversed To Do List

I have mentioned this in a previous blog, but I think it is worth mentioning it again. Today was one of those days where everything just seem to go wrong, I forgot my lunch at home, they wouldn't cash my paycheck in two different banks, the lock on the door at work broke, and the list goes on and on. So to overcome all this negative energy, I have decided to pat myself on the back and give myself some kudos for what I did manage to accomplish today. By managed to accomplish I mean every little thing I did, from paying the rent to simply putting my phone to charge as soon as I got home (I am one of those people who is always carrying a discharged phone because I am too lazy or forgetful to connect the darn thing to the charger).

The most important thing I did today was signing up for the gym. I have gained a total of 32 pounds since my freshman year in college, I am only 24 and believe I could go back to that weight. More than just pounds, I need to start feeling better about my health and yes my image. In no way I want to conform to what is seen as beautiful in the magazines and on TV, but I want to feel good with what I feel I have constructed as beautiful, and lets just say that being out of breath after going up a few flights of stairs aint it! So I want to rethink my eating habits and my exercising routine (or lack there of) a bit more. I really do feel better and I am more productive in every aspect of my life when I am consistently active. More than losing the weight I really want to just create a lifestyle without sacrificing all of the things I love to eat. I have always hated diets and I don't plan on starting one now, I am just making a few adjustments.  I am also doing a GOC (Grow Out Challenge) and treating my hair with sweet natural things like honey and olive oil so that it can grow long and I can wear it big and beautiful! Oh and one last thought on this weight thing, you feel better when you look better to you, this morning two of my jeans that I bought last year didn't get past my thighs, that is a problem, an unhealthy one at that, so I have decided to fix it!

So now go on and create a reversed to do list so that you can admire it and congratulate yourself for being so awesome and prevailing through all of the negative things that you encountered throughout your day. Be grateful to the universe, the people and the God(s) who helped you accomplish these things. Love yourself.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A day at the beach...

I love feeling the hot sun caressing my skin while a fresh breeze passes by to cool me down, the sound of the palm tree branches dancing to the sounds of the roaring sea, while the sand molds to my body as I lay taking it all in and when I am ready, I submerge myself into the salty warm waters and look up at the fluffy clouds in the sky who are so respectfully staying far enough to not disrupt my date with the sun but close to enough to allow me to admire them. I love the beach.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Black is Beautiful: Hair and the Identity Struggle in the Dominican Republic

I wrote this piece for a conference I participated in Dakar, Senegal on January 2011.

I come from the Dominican Republic, a country that has been plagued with the worst kind of self-hate and racism in the world. This is a big statement, but I say it because it is what I live and feel everyday since I returned there—I migrated when I was 4 years old and moved back 18 years later. I am trusting my experience, as James Baldwin, an African American writer once wrote, confiding in the fact that it is my own and relevant to me.

My mother relaxed my hair when I was 9 years old and I continued to do it every 2-3 months until the age of 23. I remember describing how I felt right after a relaxer was applied as feeling clean, more beautiful, and feeling like a huge weight was taken off of my shoulders. My entire life I was socialized to believe that the opposite of relaxed hair was dirty, ugly, and heavy. Finally after spending thousands of dollars on hair products (US$10 for relaxer every two months, an average of $25 for salon visits every two weeks and countless hair products), wasting endless hours at the salon, and enduring painful burns from the relaxer and blow dryers, I said, “No more!”

Deciding to go natural was not an easy process. I cried, I felt like a boy, I felt ugly, I felt less of a women. I realized that like any process, these were just a series of steps that I had to overcome. The feelings that arose gave me a slap in the face, allowing me to deconstruct the origins of these feelings of inferiority based on my natural hair and question their validity.

Many Dominicans who criticize me, see themselves in me and when they reject me they in turn reject themselves. They don’t want to be African, they don’t want to be black, and so when I embrace these things they become afraid because I am them. I am also considered a rebel and a revolutionary for not conforming to what has been determined as beautiful. No one asked my opinion when beauty norms were created.  Why is fair skin and long silky straight hair beautiful when I wasn’t born like that and why is being natural revolutionary?

I wish that when we talked about hair, it would be just that, hair—an accessory to the body and nothing else.   Pablo Freire, a Brazilian scholar once wrote, “Without a sense of identity, there can be no real struggle.” Until we recognize, love and value our history, our skin color, our hair, ourselves, this fight will be long and painful. Black is beautiful.   

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A little piece of Trinidad and Tobago

Una Aventura!!

This blog post was inspired by someone really special who is traveling outside of the US for the first time. Those who know me know I L-O-V-E to travel, I also give it away with the title of my blog-I am Miss adventures around the world. 

The first thing is the most difficult—don’t create a lot of expectations about your trip. This is so hard because all of these things are going through your head, oh the people I will meet, the places I will see and the foods I will taste! It’s ok to be really excited about all of this, but don’t start calculating and predicting how everything will happen during your trip. Go into it with an open heart, open mind, and open mouth (the mouth part is for the yummylisious foods you will eat of course).

Even though you shouldn’t have all these expectations about your trip, you should one, go into it with a positive outlook and two, you should be somewhat prepared for what’s ahead.

For short trips—2-7 day—don’t do a lot of crazy pre-trip planning. Just make sure you have different options for lodging, an idea about the transportation systems, and some specific places you would like to visit. You do this so that you spend less time looking for these things when you arrive and in turn you get more time exploring and doing the fun things, for me that is eating, naturally. Oh and I almost forgot, please stay away from Internet cafes and from a cell phones. On short trips you need to disconnect and just enjoy.

For longer trips—8 or more days—definitely do a bit more planning. Look into different options for lodging, so that you could experience different parts of the city or country you are visiting. Look into the national transportation options and if the country borders another, look for international traveling options. Start thinking about buying a cell phone or SIM card for your phone. If you are going to a relatively safe-ish place, then take your fancy phone, get it unblocked and just buy a SIM (these are usually really cheap US$3-15).  If you are going to a busy city that is not so safe, just buy a cheap US$20 phone.

There are some basic things that apply to both short and long trips. Pack really light. I can’t stress this enough. If you are going somewhere hot, pack a few shorts, few shirts, flip flops, pair of sneakers, and all of your toiletries in small containers. Ladies, in addition to what I previously mentioned, travel with a smaller makeup bag, 2-3 bathing suits and a few flowy light dresses, you really won’t need much more.  Traveling to a cold place? Pack 2 pairs of jeans, some leggings, a few t-shirts, 2 sweaters, a few going out outfits and of course a coat, gloves, scarf, hat, and if it is really cold, a pair of boots. Don’t forget the sun tan/sun block lotions, bugs spray and the Chap Stick. These are just the basic things you’ll need, your list may change depending on where you are traveling and how long you will be there.

Always carry some cash with you. Exchange some of it at the airport; between US$30-50 depending on where you are traveling, you’ll need this to get to your hotel, hostel, or couch. In the towns and cities there are always places where you can exchange your money for better rates. Go online before traveling and find out how much you’ll get for your dollar.  Always bring some extra money for emergencies.

Make friends with a taxi driver or a moto driver. During you taxi drives ask questions to the drivers about the economical, political and social state of the country. They will be able to give you the lowdown because they are in the middle of it all. It’s also good to keep the cell phone number of a reliable taxi driver, it can make your life easier during your stay.

There are dangers everywhere you go in the world; I haven’t visited the other planets, so I can only talk about my experience here on earth.  What has worked for me is simply using my common sense. It’s actually that easy. When you're somewhere that is completely foreign to you, you don’t put yourself in sketchy situations (e.g. dark alleys at 3:00am by yourself, I actually did this once and was mugged, go figure!).

Finally, just have fun. Don’t go crazy at the souvenirs shops; if you can’t use it, don’t buy it. There is so much more to say, but I have to run to work before I get fired! If you have anything to add, feel free to write it in the space for comments.

P.S. If you traveling for a long period of time, don’t forget to get health insurance.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Hello everyone one!

As I was reading a blog on curly hair this morning it hit me that I really missed writing in this space. It has been quite a while since my last post. Since then I visited Trinidad and Tobago for work, I spent almost three weeks in Dakar, Senegal, and I went back to the US of A to visit family and friends. I guess I will spend the next few weeks updating this space, but for now, welcome back misaventurasaroundtheworld!  

Thursday, January 6, 2011

"Take no one’s word for anything, including mine—but trust your experience" James Baldwin

Friday, December 17, 2010

A new kind of fight is born in the Dominican Republic

The article bellow is in Spanish and written by a young activist, Heury Perez. In summation, the article brings to light to the new era of peaceful activism that has developed in the past few years in the Dominican Republic.

Una nueva forma de protesta nace en República Dominicana.

Recuerdo aquellas manifestaciones de descontento del pueblo dominicano tirado a las calles quemando gomas, ensuciando sus calles y enfrentándose con palos y piedras a las fuerzas policiales que ultimaban de algún balazo uno que otro huelguista, este tipo de manifestaciones estériles que no resolvían ni ayudaban a la solución del conflicto por el que se luchaba. Esta  ha sido desplazada por una nueva forma de protesta y manifestaciones con mejore resultados dando fruto a victorias del pueblo frente a los abusos de las autoridades actuales que pretenden hacer lo que quieran con nuestro país.

Ejemplo de estas nuevas formas de lucha libres de violencia y orientada a la razón    elevando la masa activista dominicana a nuevos niveles de madures dentro de la lucha, como son las Manifestaciones en contra de la cementera en los haitises, el juicio moral por el desayuno escolar contra Alejandrina German y  el 4% por la educación, por mencionar algunas de las victorias que por medio de esta nueva era de manifestaciones el pueblo dominicano ha logrado.

Cabe señalar que a diferencia de la quema de gomas y el paro laboral que afecta más al pueblo que protesta, esta lucha se orienta más a la unificación de la gente y  no solo de sectores pequeño que eran amedrentados con violencia por las autoridades haciendo caso omiso a  sus reclamos.
Es simple y evidente “la unión hace la fuerza”, este tipo de protesta nos invita a los dominicanos acostumbrados a resolver los problemas colectivos de forma individual, (si no funciona la luz compro un inversor, si no llega el agua cabo un pozo de agua, etc.) a que nos unamos para solucionar en el colectivo y unidos los problemas que nos afectan a todos.

“Pensemos diferente y hagamos la diferencia por un mejor país”
No bajemos la guardia que aún queda mucho por que luchar.

Heury Perez