About Me: Why Voyaj?

My Childhood Inspiration

I have always loved to travel. As a child in the days before the internet, I used to flip through my father’s travel brochures that he was often sent in the mail. He was an informal travel agent, often organizing groups to go on Caribbean cruises and they would sail from Florida or Puerto Rico to distant islands that only existed for me in the pages of my father’s brochures. I imagined myself as a full-time resident of my very own cruise ship, docking every few days in a new foreign land.

As a child, family vacations comprised of visits to your usual local theme parks as well as distant relatives. The journey that stands out the most in my memory is when I went to the Democratic Republic of Congo (then Zaire) with my mother and my sister at the age of five. I remember being carried on one of my aunts’ backs to market where vendors sold everything from fish to sugar cookies, men would come by my grandfather’s house on bikes that held baskets selling pistachio ice cream, showers took place outdoors, and we would blow into reeds as though they were flutes.

I learned at an early age that there are alternate realities that exist alongside of our own, that my life in Far Rockaway and Canarsie did not constitute a whole universe, and that I could create my own destiny elsewhere, if I chose.

I didn’t realize this until recently, but I believe that journey to my mother’s homeland was the engine that fueled my love of reading, which gave me more than just the ability to empathize with another character’s problems- it was an exciting way to be   anywhere at any time. In the span of a few days I could be with Laura Ingalls in the prairie west, Anne of Green Gables on Prince Edward Island, and Cassie Logan in the deep South. Traversing time and space, I was able to enlarge my definition of the world and stretch the confines of my identity.

I continued to travel during my childhood – I went on Caribbean cruises with my father and trips down south to North Carolina to see my mother’s family in the newly established “Little Kinshasa” composed of recent immigrants. In Raleigh, church buses made the rounds of apartment complexes for Sunday school and kids went to roller rinks and cheap $5 movie theatres to pass the time. In France we visited the Champs Elysees and the Tour d’Eiffel in Paris like tourists, but then spent a month with my aunt Charlotte in the sprawl of Dijon’s banlieues, where we waded in shallow public pools. I learned how to swim, bike, and pick edible berries in day camp there. I also learned the hard lesson of defending myself in a foreign language.

Traveling Today

Today, I continue to travel and I do so to suit a variety of different purposes. I have traveled to Haiti to visit family and experience the countryside, toured Ghana on a grant for educators, and lived with a family in the Dominican Republic to study Spanish.

But what about vacations? Sometimes, I simply wanted to travel cheaply and conveniently and do little but lie out in the sun while the ocean’s waves lapped at my feet. The problem with this vision? Well, I grew tired of the inevitable disappointment when it would (gasp!) rain in a tropical location. Experiencing the desperation of people who feel left out of the all-inclusive/luxury/cruising food chain filled me with feelings of fear, uneasiness, and guilt rather than relaxation. I began to understand why some people never leave the well-landscaped comforts of their hotel resorts.

Why Voyaj?

Many people feel the same way as I do but don’t necessarily want to give up all creature comforts in order to experience the nature and human culture of a different state or a foreign country. There is a “third way” between adventure travel/backpacking and all-inclusive/luxury packages that people are beginning to explore.Which is why I’ve created Voyaj, an online blog that I plan to expand into a magazine. Voyaj, by the way is the Kreyol spelling of voyage and it will explore the myriad forms of what many people are calling “experiential” or simply “responsible” tourism, which according to planeta.com is “treating others the way they wish to be treated. While tourism campaigns have long touted ‘destinations’- in fact we are simply entering a place that is someone else’s home.”  There will be articles that seek to explore and define “sustainable” travel, eco-tourism, farm-to-table inns, local guided tours, locavore restaurants, and any other experiences that help to bridge the gap between the tourist and the land.

Welcome to Voyaj,

Dalia K. Angrand

(educator and fellow traveler)

7 Responses to “About Me: Why Voyaj?”

  1. Rachel Rodgers August 7, 2010 at 3:27 pm #

    This is awesome. I’m already a fan! I love to travel this way! I discovered a term that is somewhere in between luxury travel and backpacking called flashpacking. Check out my blog entry on that:
    http://babeltravel.wordpress.com/hong-kongthailand-itinerary/were-flashpackers/

    I would love to contribute to your magazine in the future, if interested. I am planning to spend 2 months in Spain with my husband this Fall learning Spanish and just living. Let me know if you’d be interested in a guest post and/or pics. (I have a travel blog where I share my travel experiences with friends but have no time to really dedicate to it consistently).

  2. Dani August 8, 2010 at 6:04 am #

    Great idea for a blog! I was doing the same but got really lazy about writing. I’m a huge fan of the “third way” of travel… I wouldn’t want anything else!

  3. Faida August 13, 2010 at 3:22 am #

    What a great idea!!! Love it!

  4. Kia Aubrecht August 31, 2010 at 10:47 am #

    This is a great post and may be one that should be followed up to see what goes on

    A pal e mailed this link the other day and I’m desperately waiting your next write-up. Proceed on the world-class work.

  5. voyajer79 September 1, 2010 at 1:31 am #

    Hi Kia,
    Thanks for your response! Please let me know more about what you’re interested in reading.

  6. Maynard Turzak September 1, 2010 at 2:54 pm #

    Unearthed your internet site via google the other day and absolutely like it so much. Continue the truly great work.

  7. rootsinwater October 14, 2010 at 10:03 pm #

    This is beautiful Dalia! I am inspired and love the concept, and just caught it by way of Ms. DeeArah 🙂 I must say I’ve been traveling under different, varied life circumstances since growing up, but I’ve only recently begun traveling of my own, let’s say, wherewithal, and volition. I’ve truly embraced it, and want to do so much more! I had the wonderful chance to travel this summer to spend time on a couple of farms (you can see some musings under journeys on my blog), and I’ve been thinking how important it is for those of us in the multicultural diaspora of the US to claim our voice as global citizens through experience, mutual benefit and cultural dialogue. Please keep me informed, and let me know how I can contribute when Voyaj is ready!

    Ciao bella!
    Sala

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