In celebration of Black History Month, Cultural Xplorer is doing a series of interviews to eradicate the myth that African-Americans and people of color do not travel and to show you people of color who are traveling the world and making history. This series will feature a number of interviews from both men and women of color from around the world who are passionate about traveling and sharing their stories through their writing and through travel videos.
Meet Tanya Harry, the blogger at GlobalSouls.Net. Tanya has been traveling for the last 39 years and she currently writes about her adventures on Global Souls. Tanya says, “I’m interested in writing about travel from a cultural perspective. I enjoy exploring elements that bind a community together, such as great food, dance, music and sports.”
Tanya on Traveling
How were you exposed to traveling?
My parents are immigrants; my mother is from the Philippines and my father is from St. Vincent and the Grenadines. When I was a child, if I wanted to see my grandparents or other relatives, we had to travel to those countries. I’ve had a passport since I came out of my mama’s womb.
What motivated you to make travel a part of your life?
After many years of traveling, I came to realize that when I’m exploring another place and connecting with people, I become my truest, most authentic self. I let go of all social cues — I don’t care what I’m supposed to look like or sound like. Simply travel makes me feel grateful to be alive.
What is your most memorable travel experience to date?
8 years ago I was rafting the Zambezi River in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. The landscape was absolutely mind-blowing, like being in a scene from The Lord of the Rings. Navigating each rapid with my group was so much fun. It was definitely a lesson in confidence and cooperation! The downside was that I came close to drowning after a large wave tossed me out of the raft. I felt like a pulverized rag inside a washing machine. Before that day, I never realized just how powerful water really is.
How many places have you traveled to so far?
So far I’ve been to at least 25 countries.
What is the greatest lesson you have learned on the road?
Remembering to be flexible, to go with the flow. Even though I’ve traveled all my life, at times my Westernized mentality will kick in. For example, when I’m in St.Vincent, I’ll become annoyed at the long bank and post office lines, as well as the slow internet speed. In Tokyo I can quickly get irritated by the lack of personal space. In Berlin the seemingly stand-offish customer service irks me. On top of that, I’m a sensitive person. However, I’ve come to realize that it simply comes down to a choice. Do I let a negative event ruin my day, even my entire trip? Or do I chalk it up to a memorable experience, a valuable lesson learned, and keep it moving? I prefer the latter.
What has been your biggest challenge on the road and how did you overcome it?
It’s always challenging to communicate in a new language. There are so many to learn, and at times I wish I was C3PO, able to speak any dialect on earth. Knowing the basics of any language is important, especially when I’m rushing to get somewhere, or when I find myself in a sticky situation. Back in 2004 when I lived in Colombia, my mother came to visit. We were driving from Cartagena to a well-known mud volcano. The Colombian police were heavily concerned about paramilitary groups lurking about; they set up several roadblocks and checkpoints. Thank goodness my Spanish was good enough to get us through easily. Words of flattery about the country and the good job they were doing didn’t hurt either!
If I know that I will be headed to a place where I don’t speak the language, I use an audio-based language program like Pimsleur to get me up and running. However, once I arrive at my destination it’s all about immersion. I hang with the locals and face down my fears of stumbling over my words and getting laughed at. It’s by far the fastest way to learn a new language.
Tanya on Blogging
When did you decide that you wanted to become a travel blogger?
I used to write these insanely long emails to friends and family, detailing every moment of the day I could remember. I wouldn’t stop to think about what I was writing; all I could think about was how I needed them to experience everything with me. People would say “So when is your book coming out? Seriously, we’re not kidding.” So about a year ago I decided that starting a travel blog was a good place to begin.
What makes your blog unique in comparison to other travel blogs?
There are so many amazing travel blogs out there. It’s difficult not to compare my blog with others, but in the end I have to be content with myself. I believe I have a special voice, a different, interesting perspective to share. As long as I come real and stay true to myself, readers will want to take the journey with me.
What are the top three articles that you feel everyone should read on your blog?
Street Art in Berlin, No Shrinking Violets Here: The Spectacular Flower Parade of Medellin
Positively Sideways: Exploring Wines in Santa Barbara County.
Who is your target audience?
Anyone who is passionate for travel and open to learning new things.
Tanya on Life
Favorite travel (or life) quote:
“The most dangerous risk of all— the risk of spending your life not doing what you want on the bet you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later.” – Randy Komisar
What is something that your readers do not know about you?
I’m crazy about anime and graphic novels. The stories being created these days are so riveting and imaginative. Hollywood can’t even compete.
Where do you plan on going next?
Tuscany, Italy. I’m a wine enthusiast, and I’ve always dreamed about staying there, learning how to make my own Italian pasta and wine.
Want to see more of Tanya? Find her at…