New Episode! Today, I got inspired to talk about my childhood as a military kid and how it impacts how I see the world. My father served in the US Army for 29.5 years and his father for 6ish I believe. I have countless cousins and family members—many of whom served as well. I’m torn because the more I live and read and study, the more jaded I become of the country I once loved with no abandon. Now, I give my country the side eye and am pretty mouthy about injustice and whiteness.
I met a beautiful family from Kosovo who shared their beach blanket and snacks with me on the beach in Montenegro. It was one of my favorite travel moments because it was shrouded in the ordinary, but forever deeply impactful. A simple conversation in broken English literally meant the world to me and assuaged moments of little Jenaya years where I was devastated that my dad wasn’t like other dads who were always there for the daughters. Mine was off fighting and supporting distant lands that I saw on a map posted on my childhood bedroom wall.
Happy Veterans Day to all who have served, lost their lives, and missed out on soccer games and piano recitals. To the moms and dads and partners of soldiers who are the silent heroes who had to be two parents like my mom, thanks.
For me, this place is, was, and always will be special. Not special like Colombia, but very spiritually significant. In my sojourn across and through 12 countries in Europe last year, I found this gem. I halfway knew this place existed, but not really. After a bad day at work teaching hard-to-love children, I went home and booked my ticket to Paris, France. A month later, on another bad day at work, I decided my trip would be 2 months instead of 2 weeks cuz I need more time to recover. On another bad day, I decided I’m just not gonna come back to America at all. On another bad day, I purchased a seat in a CELTA class to get certified in teaching English. And then I had all good days after that cuz I knew the bad days had an end date. June 1, 2019—the end of the school year. June 2, 2019 10:40am was my flight to Paris. Go ‘head young ones. Cuss me out and tell me about my edges. I’m gonna be taking selfies next to the Eiffel Tower and eating macarons of all flavors in T minus 12 days..T minus 11 days.. T minus 10 days…
Once I got serious about leaving and my epic, and now extended, European adventure, I started tracing possible paths around the continent during staff meetings, rush hour traffic, planning time, lunch, at stop lights, during family dinners, during Netflix and Chill with me and Bae Pillow-Blanket, during the twilight moments before my alarm would startle me to my reality, and when I zoned out on dates and monologues with potential suitors who told me I was wasting money by traveling and not working. I had been planning to do another route altogether, but that one bad day aforementioned (see above paragraph re: “not coming back” cuz 9-year-old homegirl cussed me out cuz I didn’t let her eat Cheetos during math class), I decided to reserve a seat in a CELTA course in Bulgaria. Bulgaria and CELTA will definitely be a podcast/blogpost later.
Adding Bulgaria meant that I had to reroute my whole vacation—and also life trajectory, but that’s yet another blog entry and podcast episode. I had everything booked up to about Italy. And then, I looked at Italy and CELTA date and Italy and CELTA date and back to Italy..Whew! I had a lot of ground to cover in a mere 5 days! I had to somehow get from Venice, Italy to Sofia, Bulgaria in 5 days! But I didn’t want to just fly directly cuz that’s dumb and I’m poor and flying is expensive and too easy. I chose to fly across the Adriatic Sea to Croatia and then work my way down the coast. Besides, the goal of my trip was to practice meandering and being journey-centric, not destination-centric—a life tendency that I’m trying to break. The whole “finish line is better than smelling the flowers along the way” has me definitely spending many-a-coin in therapy right now.
Next hard thing. I speak English and Spanish. Spanish at like 60% fluency overall but 93% fluency at a Mexican restaurant. These languages are very helpful in Europe because words at least kinda look familiar. Italian, French, Portuguese, German kinda are like step-sisters. I knew that when I crossed the Adriatic Sea, I could say goodbye to linguistic kinship and would have to survive buses and navigating in Slavic languages with weird scribbles and patterns and sounds.
Upon planning my trip, I thought that, in theory, if Croatia was as beautiful as I remembered, that I could take buses from city to city along the coast and get some sneak-peeks of the water. I hate buses. Car trips. Road trips. But I’m poor. Trans-country bus it is.
From Venice, I took a plane and landed in Dubrovnik, Croatia. Second time here in Croatia. Gorgeous.
I was right. I would wake up from slumbering and halfway drooling on myself to unbelievable views of the water and cliffs and rocks and so much blue like this
In planning my trip those successive bad days at work, I did lots of Googling and if a place on Google Images looked pretty, it made it to my short list. I remember looking up Montenegro and thinking, “Bruh this don’t even look real! Let me gon’head and check it out myself and see.” It was. And is.
After having the opportunity to live and see beauty and serenity and calm for a couple days, I was ripe for a chapter end and chapter begin. I could feel my soul and heart becoming vulnerable and I made a deliberate decision to bare to myself my wounds and aches and pains and grief for the second time in my life. And that led me to my spiritual moment of release and re-setting.
I decided to write this extended blog post so that you could chronicle and place this volume in its correct home on my life memoir bookshelf. “Montenegro and the Sunset Reset” Volume goes somewhere after “Denver: I Quit” and “China: What Happens If I Just Start Over.”
Here are some other things I found in Ulcinj, Montenegro, this tiny beach town, on my way up and down from my sunset moment.
Ok. Now you can listen to the podcast episode. It’ll make more sense now that you have context.
Have you ever had a spiritual moment like mine where your vulnerability was honored by an opportunity to end a chapter of pain and complacency? Or where you learned a lesson about your self and the purpose of life whilst abroad? I’d love to hear your story! Comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to have your story featured here!
Michael Nuñez is my guest on this episode and he had lots to share about his adventures to 20 countries. Of course, we won’t bore your to tears with a complete detailed itinerary of all of that, but tune in for the highlights and reflections!
Michael currently lives in New Zealand where he is living his best life, teaching English online, and doing photography. He just celebrated his one-year anniversary of “I was sitting at my desk and saw a deal for a cheap roundtrip ticket to New Zealand and I decided to buy a one-way instead” this week. At the time of this recording, I was in China and he was preparing to depart to NZ. But now, he is loving his new life on the far side of the world. Follow him on his adventures and feel free to link up with him to support his ventures and passions.
Countries Traveled: Dominican Republic, Mexico, USA, Canada, New Zealand, N. Ireland, Scotland, England, Ireland, France, Lithuania, Poland, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Sicily, Malta, Israel, Sweden, Norway.
In the voice of Kevin Hart, “See what had happened was…” Life just got real China-y. I had to disappear for a while and recover. Living abroad may seem glorious from a distance, but it just ends up being tons of easy and sometimes bizarre challenges that need solutions. And in my case, the challenges come all in one very long, never ending month—which for me was March. In this episode, I talk about ridding myself of toxicity—how I did (and am doing) it, why, and what my life is like as I identify the toxins and work to clean them all out! Also, I reflect on what it’s life to truly see yourself. When you’re abroad, you’re faced with your whole, raw, and blemished self. This life is a ruthless mirror of the truth that I can easily run away from when I’m in my comfort zone at home! I wish living abroad was just super cute Instagrammable selfies, but it’s hard and draining growth work! The journey is tough and this episode is just an update on what I’ve been processing while I disappeared.
Hey hey! On this episode of Melanated Stamps, I’m talking about how to critically assess safety levels based on news articles. EVERY time I go somewhere, someone has an opinion on if I should travel anywhere. It’s always AFTER I purchase the plane ticket and it’s ALWAYS people who have NEVER left their neighborhood. Well, aren’t you helpful.. Eye roll.
Of course, they were watching the news. Of course, they do really love me. Of course, they want to make sure I’m ok. Of course, I politely listen. Then I proceed to take selfies upon reaching my destination like, “Welp, looks like I’m not dead and doing just fine!” as I sip on my boujie fruit smoothie with sand-dipped toes at the beach or traverse the city in my hipster Birkenstocks.
Albeit, news is helpful. Yes, one should check it before you head out. But don’t let it scare you. I tell people, “Would you just the whole USA by South Chicago or LA? Do you have any idea how terrified people are of visiting the US cuz ‘[we] have guns EVERYWHERE!’?” Of course not! The majority of spots are safe like a Kansas cornfield and you will be just fine.
Just don’t be stupid.
Check out my perspective on how I navigate and give the side eye to the news and determine my strategy for travel based on what I read!
Episode 2 of Melanated Stamps features Kane Jacob. He is from Brooklyn, New York with roots in the Caribbean. He graduated in 2016 from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia with a degree in Political Science and a double minor in Chinese and International Relations. He’s been to Curaçao, Grenada, Ghana, Morocco, Trinidad & Tobago, Barbados, Mexico, Canada, Bahamas, and St. Vincent & Grenadines. I loved listening to him talk about studying abroad in China for several weeks, his creativity amidst needing to problem solving, and life resilience. Feel free to join him on the interwebs. If you’re headed where he’s been and need some ideas, want to connect about financial planning, or chat about a plethora of other topics, he’d love to hear from you! He can be found on Instagram and Twitter at kane_jacob.
It’s finally here, guys! And what a time to celebrate–on the first day of Black History Month. For the record, we should be celebrating Melanated folks EVERYday and honoring the culture, creative, and epicness of Black and Brown folks ALL the time.
Check out the first episode of Melanated Stamps on Stitcher, iTunes, and wherever else you listen to podcasts. On this episode, you’ll hear my Why for starting the podcast and a bit of the vision I have for this new platform.
As always, share with your friends and stay tuned. Greatness is happening. Join the movement!
Check out the trailer for my new project! I’ll be sharing soon about how you can follow my work and stay abreast of new episodes. For now, make sure you sign up for updates to my website. It’s the best way to make sure you’re not missing out.
This blog is the internet base for my actual project–a podcast focused on the stories and voices of Black and Brown American global travelers. I was thinking about what impact I want to leave in the world (like any millennial), sat down, and wrote This blog is the internet base for my actual project–a podcast focused on the stories and voices of Black and Brown American global travelers. I was thinking about what impact I want to leave in the world (like any millennial–albeit it, I’m an old-school millennial..), sat down, and wrote out everything that I love today. That list was..
Stories and storytelling
Traveling the world
And I asked myself, “What would it look like if I combined all my loves?” And WALLAH! Melanated Stamps was born!
Every 2 weeks, I’ll be dropping a new episode into the interwebs. You’ll be able to find me on all the podcast finders–iTunes, Stitcher, and this site.
If you’re interested in being showcased, inbox me and we will make that happen!
Hey y’all! Welcome to Melanated Stamps! I’m REALLY bad at introductions and such cuz I just feel like you’ll get to know me and who I am as I write and build this new platform. But for now..
Name: Jenaya (Gin-NEIGH-Yuh)
Location: Shenzhen, China
Countries Traveled to: 28
Ethnicity: Very Black and Unapologetically Boujie
Addictions: Facebook, cookie dough, and naps
Marital Status: Meh.
2019 Vision: Amongst other things, building Melanated Stamps into a dope brand and platform, writing a book, and living my best life in Asia.
Let’s chat now about Melanated Stamps!
MelStamps is a passion project of mine. I love stories, melanated people, and traveling the world. Ever since I was a little girl, I knew I wanted to see as many countries as I could before kicking the bucket. And here I am doing just that. In traveling, I noticed that so few of the Americans I cross paths with look like me. This MUST change. And I’m going to do my due diligence to help fix this by highlighting and showcasing the stories and lives of those who look like me and travel like me, sharing strategies that I use to travel, and giving you a front-row seat to my life abroad. I invite you to join in on all the fun and adventure!