The Nightmare Before Spring Break Pt. 2: The Cruise

In my last post, I told you the horror story that was my journey to the cruise ship for spring break. If you haven’t read it, here’s the short version: I missed the boat, cried, flew to Mexico and got on the boat. Despite those inconveniences, my spring break turned out to be an incredible experience.

As mentioned in the last post, my friend and classmate Jasmine did most of the planning and organizing for this trip. There were 8 of us ladies in total, all Engineering students at A&T, split into two cabins. Our ship was the Norwegian Dawn from the Norwegian Cruise Line.

The first stop was in Costa Maya, Mexico, which was where the three of us who initially missed the ship in Tampa embarked. After checking in and changing into our swimsuits, we headed back to the port to walk around and take pictures. We didn’t actually leave the port, because we were terrified of getting left again. It was honestly a miracle we left the ship at all after that experience.

The port in Costa Maya was nice, warm, and had WiFi. What more could you ask for? I tried some white chocolate with tequila in it, which was amazing. We kept our time off the boat brief, so I don’t have too much to say about this stop. IMG_3548

The next port, Roatan, Honduras, was my favorite out of all the destinations. Unlike in Costa Maya, we actually went further than 100 feet away from the boat. Getting a taxi was quite stressful, because everyone was yelling at us to choose them. We ended up choosing the guy who said, “I can take you anywhere you like! I can give you anything you like, including me!” Seemed like a good deal. (He also offered us the cheapest price). We took a 25 minute taxi drive to West Bay Beach, and on the way got to see so much of the island up close. It reminded me of Guyana in many ways. The beach was beautiful. The water was pretty clear, and it was such a hot day. Our taxi driver waited inside the resort building at the beach until we were ready to go, which was convenient. IMG_5869.jpg

Next up was Harvest Caye, Belize,  an island that is owned by Norwegian Cruise Line, which explains why there was not much to do or see besides the beach and some tourist attractions. Some of the other girls chose to pay for the parasailing excursion, but that was insanely expensive so I passed. Instead, my friend and I walked around the port, took some cute pictures and got scammed into buying a drink after trying a free sample. (In our defense, it was so good!) The drink was a little stronger than we expected, so we made our way back to boat to grab a ridiculous amount of German breadsticks (Laugen) and our swimsuits so we could hang out on the beach. We ran into the rest of the group and all ended up in a pool where we met a bunch of other college students at a swim-up bar. Another friend and I ended up heading back to the ship early. Black clouds appeared out of nowhere, and we didn’t want to get caught in a storm.IMG_6214.jpg

Our last stop was Cozumel, Mexico, and it was one of the places I was most looking forward to because it was the only excursion I had booked. We (Jasmine) found a beach resort that had a transportation + open bar + buffet + beach access package for a reasonable price. We had purchased tickets the week before, so when we got off the boat, we just found the Playa Mia table and they had a taxi take us to the beach. It was raining when we got off the boat, and pretty cloudy throughout the day, so that was a little disappointing, but we still made the best of it. We got on these giant water tricycles in the water and rode around in the ocean. It was so much fun, but very exhausting. We also kayaked, which was quite a work out. I was a little nervous for both activities, but when I asked the man who asked us to sign waivers if there was anything we should know before we get out onto the water, he shook his head. The little sticker on the tricycle did mention that if you fall off the bike and have to be rescued, you’d be charged $100.


Giant water tricycle (via

There was also an inflatable obstacle course in the water that you had to swim (or float in a life vest) to. It seemed like a good idea from the beach, but once I got out there I had second thoughts. You had to climb onto this inflatable (and very unstable) ladder, then down the other side onto what was essentially a blowup mattress in the ocean that lead to a trampoline volleyball station. I climbed the ladder, made it to mattress and trampoline, and crawled back to the mattress and threw myself back into the ocean because the next steps were either a giant slide or a hamster wheel. Neither option sounded like a good idea. I swam/floated back to shore.


Water obstacle course (via

The last day of the cruise was a sea day, so we spent it eating as much as we could (especially all the expensive seafood) and enjoying the hot tub and pool. Many of my favorite moments on this trip took place on the boat. We celebrated my friend’s birthday at a nice dinner and then karaoke. This was one of the many moments in which I was glad to not have WiFi, because while we definitely stole the show, the whole world probably didn’t need to see us passionately screaming the lyrics to My Boo (by Usher and Alicia Keys), In da Club (by 50 cent), and Birthday Cake (by Rihanna) to a very confused crowd. But like I said, we were the stars of karaoke that night. We went to a white party, but the music was awful (WHO ACTUALLY LIKES EDM???), and the afterparty, where it was equally awful but we were entertained by the dancing (or dancing attempts). We promised that we’d spend the last two nights on the ship turning up before our spring break was over, but what had happened was…we fell asleep. Twice. We said we would lie down for a short nap before going out, and when I woke up at 9:45pm, everyone was knocked out, so I went back to bed. I have absolutely no regrets.

Leaving the ship for the last time was hard. We knew we were heading back to the brutal cold back and lack of unlimited food in Greensboro, and which made it even harder. (When we got back to Greensboro, it was actually snowing). However, after spending 7 days together in extremely tight quarters, we all looked forward to our own beds and bathrooms. This trip was such a wild adventure, but it was fun and spent with some pretty cool people. I’m glad that I was able to be a part of this experience.

As far as future adventures go, I’m retiring from the game for a little bit, due to both a lack of funds (those unplanned hiccups were expensive and my account is overdrawn by uhhhh a lot) and exhaustion. I’m staying home for the next 5-10 years, I promise.


The Nightmare Before Spring Break: I Missed the Boat

My spring break trip has been in the works for a few months now. Every detail had been carefully planned so that nothing would get in the way of our week long break. The plan was to leave the night before on Amtrak and arrive in Tampa a few hours before our cruise ship left. We’d be on board by 1:30pm, way before the 4:00pm departure time. Instead, our train was delayed due to a storm in the Northeast, and we didn’t arrive in Tampa until after 3:30pm. We had been in contact with an agent from the cruise line, and the train station was only a few minutes away from the port, so we figured if we hurried, we could still make it. There were seven of us that took the train, and we split into two groups to get ubers.

The first uber took off while the rest of us were still piling our luggage into the trunk of ours, while the driver took his sweet time getting out of the car. When we finally got on the road, he drove like it was his first time in Tampa and he had no clue where he was going. We begged him to drive just a little faster, as we were very late for our cruise, but the man was going 20 mph in a 35 mph zone. The real kicker was when he dropped us off at the wrong location and we took off running, believing that the convention center was where the ship was docked. We requested another driver and got the same man again. By the time we reached the port, they had closed the gates and said it was too late for us to board. Our friends in the first car had made it, and the three of us were left watching the ship sail away.

Those first few minutes after they broke the news to us were wild. We were hysterical. There was screaming, crying, and police officers asking us to get off the pavement and stop screaming. We spent so much time and money planning for this trip, and we couldn’t even board the ship. We lay on the ground for some time, crying on the phone to our parents until an agent from the company came down to explain our options to us. The options were to either fly to Mexico and meet the ship at the first port, or to try and have the reservation changed to another ship at a later date. The agent was concerned about where we were going to sleep for the night until we had a plan, and didn’t leave until we had booked a hotel and got transportation there.

Pulling into the hotel parking lot made us cry a little harder. It seemed more like a motel. When we walked into the lobby to check in, the employee on duty was yelling at a customer over the phone. We called the front desk later to ask for clean towels and sheets and were told, “You paid $_____, what did you expect.”

Within minutes of checking into the motel, we had booked flights to Cancún, where we would take a five hour bus ride to Mahahual, near the port in Costa Maya that the ship was heading to. When we arrived in Mahahual, we’d get a taxi to Hotel Béke, a reasonably priced hotel we (my friend Jasmine) found online. I’d like to note that Jasmine planned everything. If it were up to me, we would’ve been still laying on the sidewalk in Tampa, crying.


The Game Plan

We arrived in Cancún, took the ADO bus downtown to the ADO bus station and booked tickets to Mahahual. We had a few hours before the bus arrived, so we dragged our luggage down the street to a quesadilla shop. Back at the station, we met a nice Black couple from the US who had been living in Cancún for the past few years. They sold everything and just moved to Mexico. #Goals.

Our bus ride was uneventful, but very scenic. It was like a much nicer Greyhound bus, with a TV. I feel like we really got to experience Mexico in a way we never would have imagined. The landscape was beautiful and we weren’t really in any of the tourist spots once we left the city. We arrived in Mahahual around 11pm, took a taxi and arrived to the hotel as planned. It had private beach access and two beds, so we didn’t have to sleep on top of each other again. In the morning, we woke up and had breakfast on the beach. It was amazing.


At Hotel Béke in Mahahual

The hotel staff called us a taxi and we left for the port to finally board the ship. When we finally made it on board, the crew were expecting us. They said our friends had been so worried about us and made them wait as long as possible in Tampa, but they couldn’t wait any longer. Our reunion with our friends was loud and emotional. None of us knew if we would actually make it, but we did!

The lesson I learned from this experience is that sometimes plans fail. Miserably. Trains get delayed, uber drivers get lost and drive ridiculously slow, and ships sail away without  you being on board. However, the adventures that happen after failed plans can be extremely rewarding. Cancún was never on my list of places to travel to, but now I’ve been there. I never thought I’d take a road trip by bus through Mexico, but I’ve done that.  I stayed in a resort in a place I can’t pronounce, walked very quickly away from soldiers with guns marching along the beach at said resort, and had authentic quesadillas in Cancún. Not what I had planned, but completely worth it.

None of this would’ve been possible without the financial support of my Nana, who lent me the money for the flight to Cancún and gave me pocket money before all of this happened. I’d also like to thank Aunty Natasha and my mother for their financial support as well. Shout out to my mother for picking out almost every piece of clothing in my suitcase, because we both know I can’t be trusted to pack clothing that’s not jeans and a t-shirt. Super duper huge shout out to Jasmine for planning everything and getting us to where we needed to be and when we needed to be there. Courtney, thanks for being the sane and calm one among us who didn’t have any public meltdowns. I love us for real ❤

Stay tuned for a blog about the actual cruise, which turned out to be a delightful experience.

Week 4: I Went Skiing And I’ll Probably Never Do That Again

The week started off relatively uneventful. A friend and I drove  to Winston-Salem for an Art show that our friend was showcasing his photography in. I bought a painting from another artist there, and I’m really excited about it. I have acquired a few cool paintings and prints from Black female artists, and this one will fit right in. You can find her work on IG and FB @sol.leigh or at


Art by @sol.leigh on IG/FB

I had to wake up at 4:30am the next morning to be on the bus for a ski trip I convinced my friend and myself would be fun. This was a school-organized trip to the Appalachian Mountains to ski. The fee included an hour long ski lesson, ski equipment rental, lunch, and transportation there and back.

During the lesson, instead of my attention being focused on the instructor, I was focused on staying upright and not sliding down the hill we were on. As a result, I missed a few important things, such as how to walk without slipping, and how to slow down and stop. My instructor spent a lot of time chasing me down the hill because I wasn’t slowing down enough to stop, and was heading right into a barrier at the bottom of the hill. He would literally race to get right in front of me so I’d crash into him instead.

ski trip

My friend and I before our ski lesson [photo: @RonGriswell & @thejonathanwithrow]

On the other hand, the friend that I begged to come with me on this trip loved it so much that she wanted to get on the slopes as soon as our lesson was over. I opted out of that and waited patiently at the bottom of the slopes for her.

After our lunch and nap break, my friend convinced me to get on the slopes with her. I really didn’t want to, because I was afraid of not being able to stop.  I ended up falling on my back three times on the way down. I was going way faster than I was comfortable with, despite all my efforts to slow down, so I just let myself fall. What I failed to consider, however, was that I wouldn’t be able to get back up. I landed with my legs in an awkward position, and couldn’t lift my legs because of the skis. I just lay there in the snow until a kind stranger helped me up.


Shortly before I fell three times in a row and started crying 🙂

After that experience, I was sore from head to toe for days. It hurt to even push down the soap dispenser in my bathroom. Will I ever go skiing again? Probably not anytime soon. Do I regret going? …No. It was something I was really excited to try, and I did it! I’m very proud that I can mark that as a thing that I have done.


Photo: @RonGriswell & @jonathanwinthrow


Photos from @RonGriswell & @jonathanwinthrow

Week 3: West Coast Adventures

Last week was an unforgettable experience. A few months ago at about 2 AM, I spontaneously bought tickets to see Hippo Campus in L.A. Yes, L.A. I have a friend who lives in Vegas who had VIP tickets for the San Diego show, which was sold out. We decided to both buy tickets to the L.A show the next day so we could go together. I drove to Georgia (cheaper plane tickets), flew to Vegas (where I got to see my mother), my friend drove us to San Diego, where I spent the night with my cousin, then met up with my friend again the next day to drive to L.A.


First time at in-n-out!

The drive from Vegas to California was breathtaking. I loved the desert and the mountains, which were strikingly different from the woods of Georgia and North Carolina. When we finally made it to San Diego, my nose was pressed to the window. I was born in SD, but I have no memories of living there, so it was exciting for me to be back. My cousin generously offered to let me share her twin XL bed in her dorm on campus, which was right on the beach. She also took me to her Black Student Union meeting.

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L.A was not as enjoyable as San Diego, mainly because of the traffic. It took us an hour to get 9 miles away. The concert, however, was amazing, and completely worth it. Another one of our friends was also at the concert, but we unfortunately didn’t get a chance to meet. We did wave to her up in the balcony from the floor. After the show we hung around for a bit to meet some of the band members, and we met a bunch of really nice fans during our wait. Nathan was the only one who came out to meet us, but he was extremely kind and willing to talk to and take pictures with all of us.

This was one of the best experiences of my life, and a wild adventure from start to end. I look forward to many more in the future.


Nathan (from Hippo Campus) and I


Week 2: Sport, Snow, & Service

This week was pretty exciting. Monday, MLK Day, I went to the women’s basketball game to support my friend who is on the team. Unfortunately, she failed to mention that she would not actually be playing. The game was exciting though, and our team narrowly won in the last 10 seconds of the game.IMG_3022

Tuesday was the first day of the school week, due to the holiday on Monday. It was also one of the two days we attended class. Heavy snow throughout the night and Wednesday meant that school was closed until Friday, when they delayed classes until noon. I had a 1:00pm, so that was the only class I attended.

Saturday and Sunday were busy days, as I served as a Core Values judge for the FIRST Lego League competition hosted on our campus. We had to be there from 7:30am until 5:00pm both days. The kids were so inspiring and creative. Also, judging is such a brutal process. I honestly did not want to go back after the first day, but fortunately I did.

Week 1

Happy New Year! This week was the first week of spring semester at A&T, and it was great to be reunited with my friends and classmates again. The last time we were together was in the midst of final exams, when everyone was stressed and miserable. I have a whole new set of classes this semester, with mostly new professors. I’m most excited about French, and can now say at least five different phrases!

I’m also part of a team working on a NASA Design Challenge. I wanted to join this team last semester, but they had too many people. Fortunately for me, one of the members dropped out and I was added in right before winter break. Our challenge to is to develop a plan to extract resources from Mars to create a human colony there. Its an interesting challenge, and we’ve already run into the debate on whether or not our colonists need guns (my vote is no).

I can’t wait to see what this semester has in store for me, and I hope to keep you all updated along the way. Stay tuned!

Au revoir!

Music I’m Listening to

My music tastes are all over the place, but here are a few of the artists I’ve been obsessed with this year, in no particular order.

  1. Hippo Campus: This is an indie band from Minnesota whose music I’d describe as mellow and easygoing. I saw them live in November and they were amazing. Their songs are about growing up, friendship, and love. I really appreciate the fact that they can actually sing and are all highly skilled musicians, who also use their platform to advocate for women’s rights. Favorite songs: Simple Season, South, Buttercup.
  2. Noname: She’s a severely underrated rapper from Chicago whose lyrics are original and poetic. Favorite songs: Shadow Man, Reality Check, anything she’s done with Chance the Rapper.
  3. Early Eyes: Another band out of Minnesota with a very laid-back but quirky sound. Favorite songs: Take You, Minutes.
  4. Remo Drive: Another band from MN (why are there so many talented bands out there?) that I saw live when they opened for Hippo Campus on tour. They’re a self-described emo band. Favorite songs: Yer Killin’ Me, Name Brand.
  5. The Aces: They’re an all female indie pop band from Utah. Favorite songs: Physical, Stuck.
  6. SXTN: A German female rap duo with upbeat party music. Favorite songs: Die F*tzen sind wieder da, Er will sex.
  7. Willow Smith: She’s everything, and needs no introduction. If you haven’t heard any of her latest music, please open a new tab, go to, type her name, and listen to every song she’s posted. Favorite songs: Wait a Minute!, Your Love, November 9.