Bonjour et bonsoir, mes amis!! I know it’s been awhile since I’ve shared my French adventures, but all is well on this side of the Atlantic. I promise to update you shortly on my thoughts about spending my first full summer in France—and my ongoing adjustments to expat life.
But in the meantime, UrbanTravelGirl is sharing this space with author and playwright Melda Beaty, a super-talented, Chicago-based sister (AND one of my proud Delta Sigma Theta sorority sisters!) whose debut novel, LIME, takes us on a trip around the world through the pages of a book (and an eBook for you Kindle carriers). My fellow word-lovers know what a delicious adventure that can be … so enjoy this guest post from Melda and check out LIME for yourself!
Melda Beaty, author of the newly released novel, LIME
For 40 years, my life revolved around a few states in the United States. My origins began in Mississippi but quickly transplanted me to Chicago, Illinois, when I was a few weeks old. Growing up, I went on family vacations in different U.S. states, but traveled more during my college and adult years. However, it wasn’t until my 40th birthday that I got to take a trip that most only dream about. Me, a little black girl from the West Side of Chicago, boarded a plane headed to London and while there boarded another plane to Amsterdam. Despite the cool and gray 60-degree temperatures in the month of August, I thanked God every morning for allowing me to experience life 3,900 miles away from my comfort zone.
I’m not sure what gave birth to my fascination with other cultures. I’ve been a Travel Channel junkie for as long as I can remember. While others watch “Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern” and Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations” for the food, I fixate on the culture that produces the food. I am drawn to the language, customs, beliefs … the overall way of life of people living happily overseas.
LIME takes readers on an often-glamorous tour around the world.
This “draw” found its way into my brand-new novel, LIME (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, $14.95). The heroine, Lime Prince, is the best mixture of different cultures and places that my imagination could conceive. Her Ethiopian/Jamaican genes accented with lime-green eyes afford her a life as an international supermodel. Like mine, Lime’s beginnings were in Chicago, Illinois. When her Ethiopian mother takes her back to Brixton—the wonderfully vibrant and heavily African-Caribbean neighborhood in London—where the Amde family resides, Lime gets to experience this world-class city with its double-decker buses, Buckingham Palace, old CoolTan building, St. Matthew Westminster, and more. From there, she finds herself in Johannesburg, South Africa or E’goli (a “place of gold,” as the city is called by the locals) with its cornucopia of black faces, diverse languages, wildlife, and vitality.
With runway shows and fashion photo shoots in Paris, Milan, and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, LIME takes you, the reader, along for these around-the-world adventures. However, in the midst of her fairy-tale life, she is forced to confront the realities of violence against women. This juxtaposition of beauty and violence, and glamour with pain eventually takes Lime to the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Like Lime, I’m not done seeing the world. If you follow her, I promise you will see it, too, if only in a novel … for now.
Melda Beaty is an author, playwright, English lecturer, and educational consultant. She currently teaches English at South University. You can read more about LIME at MeldaCreates.com, Amazon.com, and now on Kindle.
August 27, 2012
I don’t know about you, but it’s absolutely thrilled me to see First Lady Michelle Obama taking 9-year-old Sasha on a mom-and-daughter holiday—to SPAIN, no less! I don’t have kids, nieces or nephews, but if I did, I’d be booking us on some overseas trip as soon as they were old enough to appreciate it. And I’d be sitting them down right now to watch video of adorable Sasha meeting the king and queen of Spain (http://news.yahoo.com/video/politics-15749652/michelle-obama-meets-king-of-spain-21295458). How it does my heart proud to see this darling young brown-skinned girl looking confident alongside her mom, realizing she’s a princess in her OWN right. Nothing like self-assurance, even when it comes in the package of a preciously dressed pre-teen.
I was super-proud and psyched last year when the President and Michelle took their two girls with them to Paris and London (http://urbantravelgirl.com/2009/06/10/young-americans-in-paris-the-obama-girls-take-europe-by-storm/). I wrote then about how important it is for youngsters—and especially African-American ones, who don’t always see themselves portrayed positively in the American media—to travel abroad and experience life through a different lens….
Continue August 8, 2010
One of the coolest things about engaging in the blogosphere is the chance to trade thoughts, ideas and experiences with fellow black female bloggers, those of us for whom international travel isn’t a luxury, but a mindset and a lifestyle. Since I launched UrbanTravelGirl back in December 2008 from my rented flat in the south of France, I’ve loved perusing other sisters’ blogs, finding commonalities in our unique, yet shared, overseas adventures.
We blog about keeping our hair hooked up in foreign countries; struggling to learn new languages; what it’s like “traveling while black” outside America. And of COURSE, we get into the “man thing.” Which leads to today’s thought.
I wrote recently about sisters “getting their swirl on” when traveling abroad, and have been fascinated by your thoughts (“merci beaucoup” for sharing!). One of my favorite and most thought-provoking fellow bloggers, American Black Chick in Europe (http://americanblackchickinlondon.blogspot.com/) recently wrote, “Why Am I in Europe?” (http://americanblackchickinlondon.blogspot.com/2010/04/why-am-i-in-europe.html), where she shared her reasons for studying and living on the continent (she first was in London, and now is in Toulouse, France). But some disgruntled reader, going off-topic and complaining about some of the “Hot Man Candy of the Week” photos she occasionally posts, said: “Yes, there are white guys in the USA. Would US black chick feel as free to lust after them or even date them in the USA? You will probably say yes, but we all know the racial dynamics of the USA….”
Continue April 22, 2010
Late last month, I wrote about the “hair issues” we black women often face when traveling abroad—and promised to offer some tips about handling these when you’re overseas.
When I first traveled to Europe in the late 1990s, visiting a friend who worked on a U.S. Army base in Germany, I was doing the relaxed hair thing, toting multiple curling irons and assorted lotions and potions in my always-overstuffed suitcase. But once I started hitting the road with friends, all those curling irons became a royal pain. What a hassle to constantly be plugging in, moving irons from one room to the other, waiting for them to cool down before you could pack them, etc. And then there was always the issue of “what if it rains?”
Now that I’ve been wearing two-strand twist extensions for most of the past five years, that’s no longer a concern. BUT, I have gotten overseas and much to my dismay, realized that I forgot to pack my favorite olive oil sheen or softening lotion. This, my friends, can be a challenge—especially since overseas trips tend to last for more than just a weekend.
But if you find yourself in a city—especially in Europe—and have arrived sans products, I’ve discovered that black folks and Arabs (who frequently have similar hair textures as ours) often live near the city’s main train station….
Continue January 10, 2010
For any of us women—especially those who still consider themselves young or young-at-heart and long to experience the thrills and pleasures that travel and foreign cultures provide—the recently released Sony Pictures Classics film “An Education” (http://www.sonyclassics.com/aneducation/) is a must-see. (Here in the United States, it’s in relatively limited release, which is a shame because it’s truly one of the smartest, most thoughtful films to hit the big screen in ages.)
I recently saw it with one of my best girlfriends from university, someone who knew me before I became completely obsessed with all things international. But BECAUSE my friend knows me so well, she knew I’d be one of the few people who would be clamoring to see it with her. Another very good girlfriend, one whom I’ve traveled abroad with and spent countless hours sharing my dreams of seeing the world, demanded I call her as soon as I saw them film so we could dissect its deeper meaning in each of our lives….
Continue November 30, 2009
I don’t know about you, but I’m often more psyched about going to church on the road than hitting a bunch of must-see museums and boutiques. Although mornings and I have never been friends, when I’m overseas, I make a point of finding an English-speaking service, whether I need to hop on a subway or bus or use my own two feet to get there. I enjoy the religious aspect of worship but for me, it’s also about experiencing local culture in one of its most authentic and expressive ways….
Continue August 16, 2009
I was thrilled to read last week that adorable young Malia and Sasha Obama would be joining President Barack and First Lady Michelle (and of course, First Granny Marian) in Paris and later London for their first European trip. It did my heart a world of good to know that these charming mesdemoiselles would be serving as America’s junior ambassadors to a continent obsessed with their glamorous parents—and one thrilled to see our formerly “you’re-either-with-us-or-against-us” nation back in the global mix.
But politics aside, I was thrilled for these two African-American girls, ages 8 and 10, both getting a chance to experience what life is like outside the prism of the United States. Granted, these are kids of privilege. Even if their dad wasn’t the leader of the free world, they’re the children of extremely well-educated and worldly parents and had a chance to travel to Africa back in 2006. But as I’ve found over the years, there is NOTHING like foreign travel to open your eyes to the realities of your own country. I just wish I’d had the chance to discover this way earlier in life rather than starting in my 20s. I’ve certainly tried to make up for lost time, visiting nearly 30 countries since then!
Just imagine how different we Americans would be if we started engaging the world as kids the Obamas’ age….
Continue June 10, 2009