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Help a Girl, Period – Femme International

I am incredibly honoured to present the amazing organisation Femme International. Femme is a non-profit dedicated to advancing the rights and freedoms of women through education and personal health. We believe that by teaching feminine health education and essential hygiene, young women will be better able to attend school and work as well as participate in daily activities, thus systemically reducing the existing gender disparity. Femme has developed a Feminine Hygiene Management (FHM) program and is currently partnered with 6 schools and 2 community foundations in the Mathare slum of Nairobi, Kenya. In our inaugural year, we were able to reach over 200 young women, and plan to reach another 500 this year.

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Four Years of This Battered Suitcase: What Next?

There are so many reasons why blogging has been so important to me for, gulp, over a decade… it has acted as a personal account of my journey through young adulthood and through my travels around the world. Aside from that selfish reason, I am amazed at the community that I’ve become a part of, of all of the incredible bloggers, readers, and industry people that I interact with every day. While writing is in my blood, and I’ll never stop, it’s the community that brings me back to this blog time and time again.

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Around the World: Wild Animals

I’ve been extremely lucky to see wild animals up close. I’m not a huge fan of most zoos, and prefer to see animals in their natural habitats. My dream, ever since I was a little girl, has been to see an African elephant in the wild; that’s why, on the eve of my 30th birthday, I’m flying to South Africa so that I can start a tour through Botswana where, hopefully, I’ll be surrounded by animals.

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The Morals of Travelling: Should I Go Shark Cage Diving?

There are a ton of amazing things I want to do in Cape Town, and many people have recommended restaurants and activities. I will be staying with The Backpack; I chose them because of their dedication to responsible tourism and their involvement in community projects. One thing a few people have asked me is this, however: will you be cage diving with great white sharks?

It’s one of those things that people put on bucket lists. The adrenaline and the adventure don’t scare me at all; I know that I’ll be perfectly safe, and it would be an incredible rush to be that close to such powerful animals. As a diver, I’ve often been around sharks, though never ones of this magnitude and this, well, terrifying-ness. However, there’s that little nagging tug again… is it morally right?

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The Story of El Camino Bracelets (plus a giveaway!)

If you’ve read this blog long enough, or have ever glanced at my Media/PR page, you know that I get very suspicious of companies. There is no paid advertising on this blog, nor are there any sponsored links (not even hidden ones, what you see is what you get). While I’m willing to work with companies and tourism boards for complimentary trips and tours (like my visit to London Cru a few weekends ago), I have no desire to participate in anything that does not keep up with the theme of This Battered Suitcase, or that I think would not be beneficial to readers. I also almost always turn down product reviews.

So when Tom emailed me, I responded politely but firmly. “I won’t write a post specifically about your bracelet, or even guarantee that I will put El Camino in the title of a post,” I wrote. And yet here I am, two months later, doing both of those things. Why?

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That Time We Went to San Agustín, Colombia

One month later, after a fabulous journey that lead us from Cartagena to Santa Marta, Taganga, Tayrona, Medellín, Guatapé, Salento, Cali, Popayán, and Silvia, our appetite for Colombia was not quite satisfied. One of us read something, or heard something, or saw something: how the seed was actually planted to visit San Agustín, I can’t remember. Somehow, however, we decided to leave our heavy packs in our beloved Popayán and travel for a few days to the centre of the country, to the place of the ancient megaliths: San Agustín, Colombia.

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The Best of London: London Cru

I’ve done a few other winery/vineyard tours, and they often end up being the same: here are the barrels, here’s some information about the wine/grapes, and here’s some samples. London Cru felt different, though, much more personal and much more hands-on. Being a small space, we were able to see each piece of equipment and stand in the very room the wine was made. As their website says, they wanted to create a “hands-on, informative, and entertaining experience”. This, combined with their passion for wine, leads me to believe that they will be very successful in their endeavour.

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A Weekend in Gdansk

We had flown into Gdansk from London mere hours ago; the flight to Poland, lasting only a couple of hours, was found online for £50 return. Our weekend had come about because of a semi-drunken conversation I had with a group of women a month or so earlier.

“Seriously, if any of you want to go away for a weekend, just say the word.” I may have been emboldened by beer, but I was indeed serious. Some of my favourite trips have been the spontaneous ones, the ones where very little is planned other than a flight and perhaps a hostel. The next day, Beverley tweeted me.

“How about Poland?”

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A Thank You (and a small giveaway)

Some of you are brand new to This Battered Suitcase, and some of you have followed it for years, maybe even since Livejournal (hi, Naomi). This is just a thank you for being such a supportive, creative, incredible group of people. As a small thank you, I have a copy of Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air to give away; fitting, perhaps, because of my last post. I haven’t read it yet, only Into the Wild, but I’ve heard it is absolutely amazing. I will also throw in some treats from London (I hope you like tea and chocolate). I have some other exciting giveaways coming up in the future, but, on this slightly cloudy day in London, I felt I wanted to do something right now.

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