Category Archives: Africa

Nine Day Namibia Honeymoon Trip


Our nine-day honeymoon exploring Namibia’s otherworldly landscapes and desert-adapted wildlife.

9 Day Namibia Honeymoon

Choose Namibia for:

  • Seeing other-worldly landscapes unlike anywhere else on earth
  • Spending time in the great outdoors and wildlife rather than cities
  • A longer trip (have at least 8 days)
  • An off-the-beaten path adventure in a safe country
  • A trip that is either 5-star luxury or nomadic camping/road-trip

Why Namibia

Images of vast desert captured my imagination several years ago when a friend posted photos of her Namibian roadtrip.  Namibia is vast and sparsely populated. It’s 1.5x the size of France. Namibia is the 2nd least populated country in the world – only after Mongolia. Namibia stayed on the wait list. Given the sheer size and lack of roads, we knew we would need a good chunk of time if we ever wanted to visit this off-the-beaten path Southern African destination.  So, after a two ‘grueling weeks’ in South Africa for our wedding (aka an amazing week in Cape Town, a very fun Kruger Safari with family and friends, and a beautiful wedding in Franschhoek), we chose  Namibia for the start of our Honeymoon. 

Our wedding in Franschhoek, Winelands, South Africa

Namibia’s Windhoek International Airport is a quick 1.5 hour flight from both Cape Town and Johannesburg. The country’s history is fascinating – a mix of ethnolinguistic groups (Koi, San, Nama, Himba, Herero, German, British, etc.) Namibia regained it’s independence, from the South African Apartheid regime, in 1991.  Namibia’s official language is English, but Afrikaans is widely spoken.  Namibia boasts incredible natural landscapes and very sophisticated tourism – both for adventuresome luxury travelers and for backpackers.  We chose the former and are excited to share the details of this Southern African gem.

Original Itinerary:

  • Serra Cafema (which became Etosha National Park) – 2 nights
  • Hoanib Skeleton Coast – 3 nights
  • Sossusvlei Desert Lodge – 3 nights

Originally, we planned to start our trip at Wilderness Safaris’ remote Serra Cafema camp, set on the Angola border on the Kunene River.   Heavy rains two weeks prior to our arrival caused massive regional flooding and closed Serra Cafema.  We made a game-time decision to start our trip in Etosha National Park.

Etosha National Park

As we mentioned, the roads in Namibia, where existent, aren’t great.  We’ll share logistical info at the end of the post.  To get to Etosha from Windhoek International Airport, we boarded a verysmallpropeller plane which; for one of us (read my new husband), was a trip-defining experience in and of itself.   

One of us was not thrilled about this tiny Wilderness Air propeller plane

Etosha National Park is oft-called the crown jewel of Namibia’s wildlife viewing. Etosha is reputed to teem with wildlife leading to amazing safari sightings against the backdrop of its famed clay-and-salt pans.  Despite our recent safari in South Africa’s Kruger National Park, we were pretty excited about time in Etosha and this extra, unplanned safari.  We stayed at the beautiful Ongava Private Game Reserve – a giant, luxury wildlife reserve attached to Etosha.  Ongava has lodges onsite. We stayed at Little Ongava, which has only three luxurious suites with private plunge pools and sweeping views of the reserve.  Little Ongava was picturesque. A roomy lodge with first rate amenities and an all inclusive package including two game drives per day.  

The Ongava guides are very knowledgeable and the food in the lodge was quite good.  Ongava is home to many rhinos (and elephants and lions!). Our first game drive in the private game reserve did not disappoint – granting us multiple animal sightings. Since Ongava is a private game reserve, we could stay out past sunset for nocturnal viewings, drive off-piste in search of animals – and even get out of the jeep and track rhino by foot!

Tracking rhino by foot at Ongava Private Game reserve

Disappointment in Etosha

The plan for our second morning was to drive into the national park itself, Etosha.  Unfortunately for us, after 7 years of drought, Etosha had received nearly unprecedented amounts of rain and the “greatest wildlife sanctuary in Namibia,” appeared void of wildlife.  Instead of the geological salt pan surrounded by barren land we expected, we found ourselves in lush green plains.  Animals that usually gathered by watering holes had no need to search for hydration and were nowhere to be found, hidden in the 20,000 sq. km park now covered in grasses.  This led to a very disappointing drive in Etosha with virtually no animal sightings but nearly 4hours of bumpy road.  

Rhino tracking on foot at Little Ongava outside Etosha National Park

Hoanib Skeleton Coast

Rising out of the desert like a mirage, Hoanib Skeleton Coast camp is a sight for sore eyes.  The eco-friendly suites spare no luxury while still respecting the desert-location and remaining conscientious of the natural resources and environment.  The main guest area boasts a plunge pool, bar, lounge area, and dining room.  The food was spectacular and the service was professional and attentive.  With only 12 suites, HSC is an intimate experience in the middle of the wilderness.  The only other accmmodation on the skeleton coast is the more budget-friendly ShipWreck Lodge which is a few hours away, on the beach.  

How HSC manages to have decently strong wifi in the middle of the desert remains a mystery.  HSC is on an all-inclusive basis, which also pertains to the two daily game drives.  Just as in Etosha, the desert is unbearably hot midday, making for terrible game viewing and human movement in general.  Sheltering us from the heat, the daily game drives were just after sunrise and just before sunset. We took daily excursions to the Hoanib River, a dry, ephemeral riverbed; the river only runs a few days a year during flash floods.  After flash-floods,the ground absorbs the water. The result is a dry riverbed with vegetation and trees springing up from the underground life-source – in the midst of the harsh desert.

Desert Adapted Giraffe on the Skeleton Coast

What is most interesting about the desert at the Skeleton Coast is the rare desert-adapted wildlife.  Wilderness Safaris is one of the premier conservation groups in Southern Africa and the host and biggest funder of Dr. Flip Stander and the Desert Lion Project.  (If you’re as lion obsessed as I am, watch this amazingNat Geo documentary Vanishing Kings: Desert-Lions of the Namib. We loved visiting HSC’s research center and, needless to say, our main objective was to see the desert-adapted lions – which was a real highlight of our Namibia trip.

Desert adapted Lion on the Skeleton Coast

Our last day, we took a day trip to the coast itself.  The drive, through the sand dunes, is not for the faint of stomach.  The drive gave us incredible dune views – and we saw real-life desert oases.  We reached the skeleton coast, the hostile stretch along the Atlantic, littered with whale bones and shipwrecks. Native Namibian tribes called this area “The Land God Made in Anger.” Portuguese sailors once referred to as “The Gates of Hell.”  Colonies of thousands of seals stretch for miles…a feast for the local hyena and the desert-adapted lions that come by.  The smell of the seals is terrible.  After sitting in the car for so many hours, we were delighted to hop in a plane for the 15 minute scenic flight back to camp. Viewing the same landscape by air was spectacular.

Sossusvlei Desert Lodge

AndBeyond Sossusvlei Desert Lodge

Saving the best for last, we flew to the magnificent &Beyond property: Sossusvlei Desert Lodge.  Unlike the barren Skeleton Coast, Sossusvlei is the most popular in Namibia. There are a number of places to stay near the dunes.  Sossusvlei Desert Lodge was, perhaps, one of the most luxurious places we’ve ever stayed.  Set on its own private nature reserve, it’s the only private hotel with access to its own star dunes.  The individual villas, which were entirely renovated in 2019, boast private plunge pools with epic views.  All-inclusive, the food and cocktails were excellent (as were the wine selections) – and we loved the activities.  

ATVing in the star dunes outside Sossusvlei

Our favorite Sossusvlei Activities:

  • Climbing the Big Daddy sand dune in Sossusvlei (1. not for the faint of heart 2. lots of water and sunscreen 3. ask for the “short cut”)
  • Walking through the petrified forest of Deadvlei below Big Daddy
  • Gazing at the stars professional astronomer (it borders Africa’s only International Dark Sky Reserve)
  • ATV’ing across the sand dunes
  • Marveling at the sunrise over the desert from a hot air balloon.  

We could’ve easily spent another day or two and not run out of activities.  The luxury of the property was on another level – it was certainly the absolutely highlight of our Namibia trip!  

SosDeadvlei Petrified Forest Wedding
Photo Credit: Clane Gessel

Budget-Friendly Tip: for beautiful inexpensive accommodations, check out the Sesriem Dead Valley Lodge. Bonus, the lodge is located within the gates of Sesriem. This means you get access to Sossusvlei and Deadvlei one hour before the general population – amazing for hiking before it gets too hot. Also great for spectacular photos (see above!). You must check-in before the Sesriem gates close at 6pm. It doesn’t have the range of activities that the all-inclusive lodges have, but great option for two nights.

We were sad to end our Namibia trip, but looking forward to a few days of rest & relaxation on the beaches of Mauritius after such an active start to our honeymoon.  For adventurers and nature lovers, we couldn’t recommend Namibia more highly!

What to know

  • Logistics:  getting around Namibia is difficult.  Lack of roads + giant swaths of land  = two options.  Your first option is private flights – we took both Wilderness Air and Scenic Air – most of the high-end lodges have their own air fields on-site (all of the above recommended ones do.).  This will certainly raise the cost of your trip.  Often, it will save you hours of time, but if the weather is bad or there’s an issue with the plane – you could be waiting/sitting around for a while.  Your other option is to do it as a road trip.  You must rent a 4WD off-road vehicle – as very few of the roads are paved…some  are mostly sand tracks.  Be very prepared with water + make sure your phone works in Namibia – there will be hours and hours where you won’t pass any people or towns – and you don’t want to get stuck!  Driving will take you hours between destinations, but friends who have had 2+ weeks have loved their road trips.
  • Lodging: Most of what we saw was either geared towards backpackers/campers (very budget friendly) or 5-star luxury.  Because the locations are so remote – and most of what you want to see is in the wilderness, there aren’t “airbnb” or other mid-range options outside of the cities.  
  • Choose north or south: even with a week and a half, it was barely enough time to scratch the surface – and there were many places we wanted to explore, but didn’t have enough time.  Things we would’ve loved to see/do: the ghost town of Kolmanskop, Fish River Canyon (largest Canyon in Africa), the ancient rock engravings at Twyfelfontein, AfricaCat Foundation, etc. If you have a few extra days and want to add in food, culture, and city, tack on some time in Cape Town!

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What to do in Cape Town (For First Time visitors)


On my second day in Cape Town, I called home and announced to my mom that she was “lucky I hadn’t visited in my 20s because I never would have come home.”

I wasn’t just being dramatic. Superlatives get thrown around with ease on travel blogs. The best this and the top 10 that. What I will say is this: Cape Town (and the surrounding winelands) live up to the hype. It truly is that spectacularly beautiful. There is that much to do, see, and explore. And the food and the wine really is that good. If you go to any website or blog about Cape Town, the options presented are infinite. How can you narrow down the itinerary of what to do?

I could have spent months in Cape Town (and am not-so-secretly hoping to do so in the near future). For a first-time trip to this magical city, I wanted to share some of the must-dos and highlights for a 4-5 day itinerary. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. [Updated Feb 2020]

What to do in Cape Town:

Recommendations for a first trip to Cape Town

  • Table Mountain: this is a must for what to do in Cape Town. Here’s the thing about Table Mountain: it closes often for weather (clouds, wind, etc.). Try to go your first day – if that doesn’t work, try the next, and the next. The moment it gets sunny & calm, head over. Trust me, you don’t want to be the person who doesn’t make it to Table Mountain. If you’re so inclined, or want some sort of masochistic bragging rights: hike. However, If you’re like me and can’t make it more than one flight of stairs without getting winded: take the cable car to the top and enjoy the sweeping views of Cape Town, the mountains, and the ocean. Buy tickets in advance (like before you head over) to avoid the lines. Bring layers – it gets cold and windy.
  • Cape Point Day Trip: Any Cape Town itinerary requires this! Hire a car service/guide for the day to do this 90 mile loop (or self drive). Start down the famous Chapman’s Drive, past Cape Town’s beaches (Bantry Bay, Clifton, and Camps Bay) under the majestic Twelve Apostles Mountain range; stop for seal watching at Hout Bay; continue to the Nature Reserve at the Cape of Good Hope (the national park where you can check out the view from Cape Point at the end of the African continent). Yup, that’s right – you can go to the end of the freaking continent. Loop north and stop to see the colony of endangered African penguins who have made Boulder’s Bay their sanctuary. Finally, stop in Simon’s Town or the picturesque harbor of Kalk Bay for lunch or a snack, and continue back to the city via False Bay (erroneously considered the point where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet) and Muizenberg’s beaches to spot Great Whites.
  • Robben’s Island: take the ferry for a tour led by an ex-prisoner at this infamous political prison, where Nelson Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years in prison. Tickets sell out, book in advance.
  • Kirstenbosch Gardens: gorgeous botanical gardens located on the slopes of Table Mountain. If you’re into nature, you could spend all day here; if not, go for an hour or two, or tack it onto the end of your Cape Point day (above) on your way back into town. Don’t miss the colony of cycads above the Colonel Bird’s bath pool – they are one of the rare species to survive since prehistoric times. While I’m generally not not even that into plants, this place is worth a stop. Summer Sundays have sunset concerts!
  • Check out Cape Town itself: Go on a Cape Town Free Walking Tour – we loved the first-hand overview provided by the Apartheid to Freedom tour. Central CPT: Bree Street, Kloof Street, and Long street for cafes and shops. Learn about Cape Malay history (and food!) and go on a walking tour to see the colorful houses in the neighborhood of BoKaap and learn about the Cape Malay culture. Take a street art tour of the changing Woodstock neighborhood and hear from locals about the changes the gentrification has brought in recent years to their community. Feeling like a lunatic? Go to Gansbaai for Great White Shark diving (several hours required). Explore Cape Town’s beautiful beaches (especially Clifton). Check out the Sunset! Hike Lion’s Head (strenuous!).
  • The new Zeitz Museum of Contemporary African Art is incredible – go on the free highlights tour (3pm and 11am) and then get an audio-guide to take you through Floor 5, which provokes interesting questions about art, conservation of cultures that have had mostly oral traditions, and the relationship between Africa and its Diaspora.
  • SHOP! Buy crafts and gifts from the vendors at the Watershed at the V&A Waterfront, or from other independent vendors at the Woodstock Exchange or The Old Biscuit Mill (go on Saturday morning for the Neighborhoods Market to eat as well!).


Cape Town is epically beautiful. You won’t regret watching the sun set every night from a different vista. FYI: darkness sets quite quickly after sunset as you are closer to the Equator.

  1. Roof at the new Silo Hotel on the Waterfront. Reservations are required for the roof (unless you’re a guest), but walk-ins are accepted for the 6th floor bar.
  2. Bloubergstrand – the coastal suburb from which the CPT postcards are photographed; the view is absolutely beautiful; the beach is nice for long walks (the ocean is freezing!); friends recommend Café Blouberg (+27 21 554 4462) and Blue Peter beach pub (right on the beach, popular with locals) will serve you excellent sundowners [colonial tradition – a drink at sunset].
  3. Cocktails at SAS Radisson hotel – a nice terrace by the ocean, close to the V & A Waterfront
  4. Drinks at the revolving restaurant at the Ritz Hotel in Sea Point – probably “the best view and worst food on the Cape Peninsula”

Where to eat

You can’t go wrong with Cape Town’s food scene. I’d be remiss not to mention these gems. Do yourself a favor a make a reservation for at least one during your Cape Town trip.

Fine Dining

  • The Test Kitchen Our favorite meal in Cape Town and possibly my favorite dining experience ever. Consistently on the Top 50 restaurant list in the world. Prix fix. Reservations are a must.
  • The Short Market Club – great ala carte fine dining in the CBD, from the Test Kitchen Team.
  • Pot Luck Club. Same team from The Test Kitchen – but we were sorely disappointed – skip!
  • The Chef’s Warehouse – no reservations taken!
  • La Colombe  Possibly the most internationally recognized and acclaimed restaurant in Cape Town, located in Constantia.
  • Salsify at The Roundhouse The Roundhouse was known for fine dining and some of the best views in CPT. Although the original restaurant closed a few years ago, the team behind The Test Kitchen and Pot Luck Club has opened Salsify in the space.
  • Aubergine one of Africa’s best and a Cape Town icon, great wine list , east-meets-west menu.


  • If in Bo Kaap: Bo Kaap Kombious Cape Malay cuisine (milder curry). Great view of the cape malay area of Cape Town – great people own it
  • On a Saturday morning: the stalls at Neighborhoods Market at the Old Biscuit Mill

Where to Stay:

To make the most of exploring Cape Town, I recommend staying in town or on the beautiful slopes of Table Mountain with the views over the city. Avoid the touristy V&A Waterfront.

Websites to check out for CPT happenings to add to your itinerary:

Check my other posts for travel itineraries in Africa.


Filed under Africa, South Africa

Tunisia Final Thoughts


Writing from New York, one week after returning from Tunisia, we have had some time to reflect on our whirlwind experience of meeting some of the country’s top business and political leadership.

Tunisia is a country in transition.  It is a country whose constituents were never allowed to have an opinion until January 2011 and who are now asking questions of national and individual identity:  What does it mean to be Tunisian?  What does it mean to be the spark that ignited the Arab Spring?  How do we fit into the broader context of North Africa?  Of the Arab world?  Of the area south of Southern Europe?  What has democracy changed?  What changes must we still demand?

The world watches Tunisia, awaiting these answers with proverbial baited breath.  These answers will determine how the world “does business in North Africa,” how North Africa interacts with the West, and how this next potential market will emerge.

We had an unparalleled opportunity to visit Tunisia at this moment in time and to bear witness to a country and a region as it forges its future.

CBS outside the Presidential Palace

Sunset in Carthage

Possibly the best hat ever

CBS Girls discovering Tunisian nightlife


For the full blog post with thoughts from my classmates check out the Chazen Student Travel blog

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Meeting the President & Other Meetings [Tunis, Tunisia]


“North Africa’s most relaxed and hospitable country just might turn out to be its most interesting,” describes the Lonely Planet’s Tunisia guidebook.

That depiction rings true for many of us, having pieced together a mosaic of understanding of today’s Tunisia through a host of visits with Tunisian professionals and companies the past few days .

Here are some of the highlights in my classmates’ words:

On Meeting Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki:

“Perhaps the highlight of the trip was our visit to the presidential palace. There, we had the honor of meeting the president. We were warmly greeted with water and lemonade by his staff and he candidly answered our questions about his views/ plans for the country. We were struck by how honest he was about the challenges facing his country and the difficulties they face. Afterward, we were interviewed by TV, radio and print media as we posed for pictures. Many of the Tunisian staff assisting with the trip took the opportunities to get their own pictures as well.”  -Andrew Weber, CBS ‘13

(See us in the Tunisian News herehere, and here [French])

Front Page of the Tunisian News!

Q&A with President Moncef Marzouki

“Doing Business in Tunisia” Global Immersion Class with President Marzouki

On having lunch with the Chairman of Poulina Group Holding:

“Today’s lunch meeting with Poulina provided a unique opportunity to learn about a successful Tunisian holding group with a well diversified offering of companies. The meeting with the Chairman was not only informative on its businesses and the economic climate within the region, but also gave us the opportunity to eat produce and meats sold by the company. Overall, I was extremely impressed with today’s visit and will be keeping my eye out for Poulina brands throughout the duration of our trip.” -Evan Tyner CBS ‘13

On our visit to Enda Inter-Arabe Microfinance:

“The group was honored to go to Enda on Wednesday night to meet with the founders, employees and three inspiring women who have received aid from the NGO. The highlight was hearing how the three women’s lives were impacted through the loans, and their optimism to continue striving for a better life by setting higher goals. All aspects of the visit demonstrated the founders’ belief in empowering people. Specifically, employees gave presentations to inform and practice their English and the reception was catered by another women who is a micro loan recipient. It was amazing to see the gratitude and happiness radiating from the room.” -Krupa Tailor,  CBS ‘13

CBSers with the founders, staff, and 3 clients of Enda Inter-Arabe microfinance

On meeting with the Regional Director of the African Development Bank:

“The meeting was able to highlight a number of factors that can propel business in North Africa:

1) The region is the least integrated of all regional blocs in the world; better collaboration can lead to North Africans getting better negotiated trade agreements with the rest of the world.

2) Collaboration can be achieved by taking advantage of the cultural and historical similarities between Libyans, Algerians and Tunisians to open up each other’s borders to provide products and services that will benefit the region.

3) The region could reduce unemployment by moving skilled-but-jobless people between the countries’ borders to where they are needed most, and by leveraging their natural resources available by moving up the value chain.” – Nkazimulo  Sokhulu,  CBS ‘13

The temporary HQ of the African Development Bank

On the COFAT Factory Tour:

“We had the opportunity to visit COFAT, a company of the Elloumi Group and to speak to the CEO Faouzi Elloumi. For me, it was one of the more interesting company visits given the multi-national nature of the business and the plant tour we were given after the presentation. Understanding COFAT’s core wire and distribution business and then seeing the fabrication of these products in a plant were a fantastic way to start our early morning. (Professor Singh would have been proud!)” –Stephanie Cheng, CBS ‘13

Professor Jedidi and students at the COFAT factory

Automotive Parts at the COFAT factory



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Made the Front Page of the Tunisia News!


Today, we met with Tunsian President Moncef Marzouki…and  I was interviewed on television, radio, and made the front page of the Tunisian News!  See the article here!

Front Page of Tunisia Live!

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Ancient Carthage, Resort Towns, Foreign Investment & Media – the First Few Days in Tunisia


(Reposted from the Chazen Institute blog at the Columbia Business School)

Salam and Bonjour from Tunis!  We arrived in Tunisia yesterday, with the 22 CBS students flying in from destinations near and far from prior winter break travels.  For those of us who arrived earlier in the day, Chazen organized a tour to the visit the ruins of Ancient Carthage, just a few miles north of the modern city of Tunis.

The Empire of Carthage, founded as a Phoenician city-State in 814 BC, was significant both politically and as a trade hub amongst the ancient empires.  It is notorious for warring with the Greeks and the Roman Republic, which culminated with the Punic wars, which were led by Hannibal, immortalized by Vergil’s Aeneid, and ultimately ended with the destruction of Carthage.

Carthage, Atlas Mountains, Mediterranean

Corinthian Column

Remains of Carthage with Latin Inscriptions

CBS at Carthage

Following the tour of Ancient Carthage, we traveled to the summer vacation town of Sidi Bou Said, a 12 miles outside the city, for a welcome dinner.  The town is known for uniform white buildings punctuated by azure doors and windows.  Tunisia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, currently embroiled in a nationwide scandal, was a fellow diner at the seaside Dar Zarrouk restaurant.

Blue door in Sidi Bou Said

Yesterday marked the 2nd anniversary of the Revolution.  The country decided a few weeks ago to officially recognize January 14th as a holiday, and as such, most businesses closed in recognition.  In order to avoid the demonstrations in the streets, populated by Tunisians off from work, our group enjoyed the morning meandering through Hammamet, a, popular resort town outside Tunis, whose population quadruples in the summer months.  We explored the town’s medina (old city), browsing the souq(marketplace) for Tunisian handicrafts, and stopped for some mint tea, a traditional beverage, ubiquitous throughout the region, at a salon de the (café).

Salon de The


Coastline in Hammamet

Mediterranean in Hammamet

The CBS Group

In the afternoon, we had several meetings focused around Foreign Investment.  For a more complete recap:  click here.

At the Mediterranean School of Business

This morning, we began the day with a Media Panel.  Again, for details, click here.

To sum up the historical (and arguably current) history of the country’s censorship, one of the panelists told us the following famous Tunisian joke:  A newspaper decided to interview Americans (developed country), Ethiopians (less developed country) and Tunisians (somewhere in the middle) about their opinions on the shortage of meat.  When the journalist asked the Americans about their opinions on the shortage of meat, the Americans responded “shortage…what do you mean ‘shortage’?” When the journalist asked the Ethiopians about their opinions on the shortage of meat, the Ethiopians responded “meat…what do you mean ‘meat’?” And when the journalist asked the Tunisians about their opinions on the shortage of meat, the Tunisians responded “opinions…what do you mean’opinions’?”

Until the next (freedom of press protected) post –



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2 Days Until Tunisia!


I know, I know.  Trips to Guatemala and Cuba have come and gone – and I am pathetically behind on updating photographs and stories.

In the meantime, I’m leaving for Tunis, Tunisia tomorrow as part of a course called “Doing Business in North Africa,” (CBS’s Global Immersion Program) and I’m the official CBS media blogger for the trip!  Check out my first blog post here:  Tunisia on the Eve of the Revolution’s 2nd Anniversary

I’ll be leaving behind the grey, chilly of the NYC winter for some balmy Mediterranean weather (ok, just in the 60s, but still!), to check out, what Lonely Planet calls, “North Africa’s most relaxed and hospitable [and]… most interesting” country

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Have 5 Minutes? Be Inspired by Life Changing Work


Last May, I traveled with friends to Ethiopia to do a project for Healing Hands of Joy, a maternal healthcare/microfinance organization.

Weeks later, two incredible high school students (oh yes, this was made by two amazing 16 year olds!) visited HHOJ in Ethiopia and made this incredible 5 minutes film, raising thousands of dollars for HHOJ in the process.

Have 5 minutes?  Be inspired:!media-gallery/vstc5=videos 

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New Website & Winter Break 2012-2013 Travel


A Broad Abroad is now hosted at the side  – pretty exciting!

Don’t forget to hit the subscribe button if you’d like to be the first to see new photos, travel stories, and recommendations.

I’ll be going back to old posts to start updating with hotel & restaurant recommendations.  Where should I start?  Let me know!

I’ve just booked my travel plans for Winter Break, this is the lineup:

December 11-18:  Cuba

December 19-27: NYC & Southampton, NY & Pittsfield, MA

December 28-January 2: Freeport, Bahamas

January 13-January 19: Tunis, Tunisia

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Nonprofit Spotlight: Healing Hands of Joy


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5 months ago, thanks to the Pangea Advisors initiative through Columbia Business School, I travelled with 2 friends throughout Ethiopia to conduct impact assessment on Healing Hands of Joy (HHOJ) and organization which addresses one of the most urgent, critical issues of women in developing countries:  obstetric fistula.

What is Obstetric Fistula?  I’ll let journalist Nick Kristof tell you:

“obstetric fistulas [is] a condition almost unknown in the West but indescribably hideous for millions of sufferers in the poorest countries in the world.

It typically occurs when a teenage girl cannot deliver a baby because it is too big for her pelvis. After several days of labor without access to a doctor, the baby dies and the girl is left with a hole between her bladder, vagina and sometimes rectum. The result is that urine and sometimes feces drip constantly down her legs. In some cases, she is also left lame from nerve damage….

They are often abandoned by their husbands and driven out by other villagers.

Take Mahabouba Mohammed, whom I met here in Addis Ababa…After a long labor, she delivered the dead baby herself but suffered crippling internal injuries, including a fistula.

Ms. Mohammed crawled back to the village, but the baby’s father was horrified by her smell. He confined her in a faraway hut and removed the door — so that hyenas, attracted by the odor, would tear her apart at night.

This girl fought off the hyenas and crawled for a day to reach an American missionary, who eventually brought her to the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital that Dr. Hamlin heads. Dr. Hamlin was able to repair her fistula, and now Ms. Mohammed is a confident young nurse’s aide at the hospital here.”

HHOJ works with the Hamlin Fistula Hospital and “gives former fistula patients a second chance by giving them a purpose, training, counseling and the opportunity to improve their villages and save lives by training them as Safe Motherhood Ambassadors. We also empower these women economically with income-generating skills training and start-up small business funds.”

Alongside HHOJ’s incredible founder Allison Shigo and her dedicated staff, we met with many of the Safe Motherhood Ambassadors who have gone through the HHOJ program including:

  • Ametetsion (pictured above): her husband left her and before she went through the HHOJ program, she had no money to pay for day-to-day life – now she is running a successful home brewery and pub

In addition to meeting many of the women who graduated from the HHOJ program, we also met the current group of women who were living at the HHOJ center in Mekelle and going through the program.

We absolutely fell in love with the women at the center and with HHOJ and encourage anyone interested to:

  • Visit HHOJ’s website to learn more about the organization:
  • Watch Founder Allison Shigo’s Emmy Award winning documentary on these women: A Walk to Beautiful

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Filed under Ethiopia, Nonprofit Spotlight