Black Girl Wanderer is a series spotlighting the travels and explorations of black women journeying the world. Black women in all their magic and all their glory wander the earth, sprinkling the earth with their brown and their gold.
If you were to ask Cebi Baker what sparked her desire for travel, she'd say it's in her blood. The photographer/yoga enthusiast is the product of a multicultural family with roots in Mozambique, Swaziland, and South Africa. The benefit of being able to claim being raised by many places is that you are exposed to a variety of cultures the world has to offer. At a very young age, you're exposed to the fact that the world is much bigger than what you see. It was that taste that would act as the catalyst to her insatiable appetite for the diverse cultures and traditions the world had to offer.
As a student of the world, Cebi is a huge proponent of not judging a place by what you see but what you experience firsthand. As such, she believes every place has a story and complexities that go beyond the surface-level. "Being born and raised in Africa, I am only too aware of the negative stereotypes that foreigners learned to attach to our countries. You can't paint an entire continent with one brush, in fact you should not cast an entire country and its people in a single light – there's always more to the story."
In her search of unknown discoveries and creating new stories, Cebi has traveled to more than 15 countries and over 19 cities. Of the places she's been, she revealed her top destinations. Here's what she had to say.
Courtesy of Cebi Baker
"I had always dreamed of visiting Paris to enjoy the cafes whilst people-watching, taking a romantic stroll by the river, strutting down the Champs-Elysees and visiting the museums – when I did finally visit, it lived up to all my expectations! Knowing that I had always dreamed of going to Paris, one day while we were visiting London, my husband booked us an early morning train ride from London to the 'City of Light'. It only took us two hours to reach Paris and I remember pinching myself as we stepped off the train and into the city of my dreams! It turned out to be as romantic and elegant as I had imagined.
"We spent the (rainy) morning people-watching at a cafe where I had a delicious French onion soup which I still think about today! Once the rain stopped, we walked around the city and soaked up the iconic scenery: we saw the Eiffel Tower, strolled past the river Seine and the Louvre – we didn't bother going into any of the attractions as we were only there for the day. Our day ended with a beautiful stroll down the Champs-Elysees and a golden sunset."
Pro Tip: "Take a good stroll and absorb the sights and sounds of the city. It's not always necessary to have an itinerary or list of attractions to tick off, especially if you're on limited time like I was. If you're curious and stay open to unplanned exploring I don't think you'll miss out on anything because you'll experience the city in a more organic way."
Courtesy of Cebi Baker
Courtesy of Cebi Baker
"I wasn't expecting much when I visited Lisbon in the summer of 2016, but boy did it amaze me! It was such a walkable city (something I truly enjoy) and full of charming history, cozy cafes and a vibrant art scene. Having grown up in Mozambique (a former Portuguese colony), I was also able to understand the language and I connected with the city on a deeper level.
"I fell in love with Lisbon on our first evening in the city when my husband and I trekked up a long, steep hill in one of the city's oldest neighborhoods. We were on our way to the Castelo de São Jorge, an ancient Moorish castle perched high above the city; and just as we reached it, the sun began to set and cast a magnificent pinky-orange glow over the city down below. All around us people were fixated on the glorious view and so we ended up staying until late evening where we enjoyed a musical performance and sipped a glass of wine. I love how people take sunsets seriously in Lisbon!"
Pro Tip: "Visit at least one Miradouro, a viewing platform located high above the city, at sunset. The views are spectacular and if you're lucky, there might be a wine stall nearby, so grab a glass and prepare to be enchanted. I would also recommend a day trip outside the city to the nearby towns of Sintra, home to the fairytale Pena Palace tucked away in the Sintra mountains, and Cascais, a seaside town perfect for a day of sunshine by the ocean."
Courtesy of Cebi Baker
Courtesy of Cebi Baker
"There are few places with as commanding a history as Rome. Walking through this city and seeing ancient Roman architecture firsthand felt surreal– it's an experience that really makes your problems feel small because you realize that there were once other people, thousands of years before you, who lived and roamed the same streets.
"I talk a lot about walking in cities but there truly is no other experience like walking through the ancient streets of Rome. Every tiny cobbled street we turned into seemed to split into a dozen different alleyways – it was like stumbling through a beautiful maze of little pathways, all hiding their own secrets. We got lost a few times but I really didn't mind because each time we accidentally discovered something new and totally unexpected – a tiny pizzeria serving authentic Italian pizza and gelato, a back-lane lined with interesting art works, an empty courtyard with a little bench, perfect for a quick rest – there were pleasant surprises at every turn!"
Pro Tip: "Definitely wear comfortable footwear to properly enjoy this 'walking' city – there are little cobbled streets everywhere and you're bound to get lost at some point, but if you're in comfortable gear (e.g. some cute sneakers), you'll enjoy it! If you stumble on a little café or pizzeria, grab a gelato or refreshment and just chill – it's always good to take in the moment."
Courtesy of Cebi Baker
Courtesy of Cebi Baker
July 2017, December 2014 , June 2011
"Being South African, I may be a little biased in saying that Cape Town is right up there with some of the most beautiful cities in the world. I can only think of a handful of places which are nestled in between majestic mountains and the wide blue ocean. Add in its history, art and wine culture – you have a truly magical place!
"During a short visit [in July 2017], we stayed at a hotel located at the foothills of Table Mountain in the iconic (and colorful) neighborhood of Bo Kaap. While I lay asleep, I remember hearing a distant, chanting voice at the crack of dawn – it drifted with such a gentle melody that I listened to it, enchanted, through my sleep – I thought I was dreaming! It was only after I fully woke up that morning that I realized the magical singing had come from the neighborhood mosque (it was an early morning call to prayer). I'll never forget how beautifully that mysterious melody floated through the sleeping city. I was left feeling like I had experienced a hidden side to Bo Kaap, usually reserved for its residents."
Pro Tip: "If it's sunny, take the opportunity to go up Table Mountain. There are many walking tours of the city so definitely tag along to get a bit of history and a sense of the culture. I'd highly recommend visiting Bo Kaap for its charming colorful houses (and if you want to snap photos of someone or their house, it's always nice to ask for permission first). While you're here, try some authentic Cape Malay (a culture belonging to the original inhabitants of Bo Kaap) cuisine – if you're a meat-eater, try a dish called 'Bobotie' (baked minced lamb filled with fragrant spices, currants, and other delicious condiments).
"There are lots of other charming spots in this city so be sure to do some research and above anything else, treat this like any other big international city. Keep your wits about you and don't flash fancy cameras or gear unnecessarily. Strike up a conversation - we South Africans are generally a warm bunch and we love people to have a good time when they're visiting!"
For more of Cebi, follow her on Facebook.
Featured image via Cebi Baker
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Imma tell y’all what — it seems like not one week goes by when I don’t see some sort of so-called term that has me like, “What in the world?” For instance, when I first stumbled upon “self-partnering,” honestly, I laughed. Then shared it with some other single people as well as married folks I know. And I kid you not, every individual was like, “What the heck does that mean?” When I told them that it was yet, one more way to seemingly define single living, basically everyone’s follow-up was, “Oh, brother.”
Why can’t (more) singles just be single and be okay with that? Good Lord. Why does there need to be some sort of relational play-on-words to make it sound like we’re with someone — even if we’re not?
Now masturdating? Even though it’s not even close to being a “real” word, it’s something that also brought a laugh outta me — although it was then followed by a genuine smile. The laugh because I almost immediately caught the play-on-words. The smile was due to the intention behind it all.
If you’re not familiar with what masturdating is and you’re curious about why you should even care, take a few moments to at least skim through what it’s about and why I think participating, as a single person, is a pretty cool (and effective) concept.
Masturdate: a date w oneself
What’s Masturdating All About?
Masturdating. Okay, so let the word marinate for just a moment. What does it sound like? Yeah…exactly. And since a huge part of masturbation centers around self-pleasure, it’s cool to explore how “self-dating” could produce similar (as far as pleasure is concerned in a broader sense) results. Because masturdating is all about spending quality time with yourself, pampering yourself, treating yourself— and yes, taking yourself out on dates.
Any of you who may think that masturdating is a consolation prize — and a pitiful one at that — for not being able to go out with another human being or get that dream $200 first date that social media was all in a tizzy about last year (bookmark that) — personally, I think that you’re the demographic who needs to try out masturdating first and the most. Why? Off top, I’ll share my three good reasons.
3 Reasons To Strongly Consider Masturdating
1. It’s an intimate way to get to know yourself better. I’ve been working with couples for a pretty long time at this point and if there’s a pattern that I see arise, OFTEN, it’s that two people are oftentimes so busy trying to “find their person” that they didn’t even know who they were. As a direct result, they found themselves in a relationship with someone who only complemented the “kiddie pool version” of who they were.
That’s why it can be so beneficial to spend time getting to know yourself on the “deep end” of things: what makes you tick, what your passions are, what you want most out of life, what are your interests beyond obvious things — and masturdating can help you to discover all of this. Whether it’s traveling alone or taking out a weekend to drink some wine and journal, the more you get to know yourself, the clearer you’ll be about who complements you on a romantic and friendship level.
2. It will definitely help to boost your confidence levels. I guess since I’m an ambivert, I don’t really get why people freak out at the mere thought of going to a restaurant or movie alone. Personally, I think it requires a helluva lot more energy and gumption to wait around and plan stuff with other people (#Elmoshrug). However, whether you’re an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert, there’s no way around the fact that the more comfortable you get with doing things alone, the more your confidence levels will increase — no, soar — because of it.
One article that I read on the topic said that doing things alone can make you more creative, improve your mental health, and help you to be totally okay with being alone (so that you’re not “needy” for other people’s attention). A psychotherapist from a New York Times article on the benefits of spending time alone said, “Getting better at identifying moments when we need solitude to recharge and reflect can help us better handle negative emotions and experiences, like stress and burnout.” And when you’re able to stare negativity in its face without flinching, how could that not make you bolder, more self-secure, and hopeful about your life?
3. It will teach you to value your time more effectively. In every facet of your world, you’re gonna operate from a healthier place if you’re operating from a “full cup” rather than an empty one. When it comes to this topic, think about it — if you’re constantly waiting on someone to call you to go out or wishing for a dream date with some guy, all you’re doing is wasting precious time that you could be spending taking a cooking class or hell, hiring a chef to make you dinner at your own home.
Indeed, waiting has two sides to it: when it’s in the form of patience, it is indeed a virtue, yet when it’s wrapped up in the notion that you’re not really living life unless you have an audience…it is totally working against you. Choose wisely.
10 Solo Date Ideas To Help You To “Master” Masturdating
So, what if you’re someone who has either never considered actually masturdating before or you don’t really know what to do beyond dinner and the movies? Here are a few ideas to consider:
1. Attend a workshop or masterclass that you’re interested in. If there’s something that you’ve always wanted to learn, sign up for a workshop or masterclass. The cool thing about this option is there are probably some in your city, as well as some that you can find online (like here) that are convenient and affordable.
2. Binge-read at a local coffee shop. Aside from their coziness and oftentimes inviting scents, I once read that a lot of us gravitate to coffee shops because we can be around people without having to actually socialize with them. So, if you want to “hang out” while still being able to enjoy a bit of solitude, take a book that you’ve been trying to finish to a local coffee shop, order your favorite latte, and sit in a big-ass comfy chair. Usually, you can sit there for hours, and the staff will be just fine with it (another bonus).
3. Have a spa day in the next town. You can never go wrong with a spa day. And while going with a friend can be fun, sometimes there’s too much talking transpiring to be able to fully chill out and relax. So, go off of the grid, get a change of scenery, and hit up a spa in the next city (or town). There are lots of studies out here supporting that day trips or “daycations” can actually be really good for your long-term health and well-being.
4. See a community play. Some of the best solo dates that I’ve ever been on consisted of taking in some of the local arts in my city. What’s really cool about this particular option is, oftentimes, they are extremely inexpensive, if not totally free of charge (in exchange for making a donation or putting money into a tip jar).
5. Plan a trip. Whenever people say something along the lines of, “If you don’t expect anything, you won’t be disappointed,” I know that they low-key have some (additional) healing to do from past disappointments. There’s simply too much intel out here to support that anticipation (of good stuff) makes us more motivated and optimistic, keeps our dopamine levels up, and makes life more exciting overall.
Since traveling alone is more cost-effective, gives you the freedom to do whatever you want (when you want), and increases the possibility of meeting new people and having new experiences on your journey — why not devote a day this weekend to planning a solo trip? All the way around, it’s good for you.
6. Try your hand at your own “$200 date.” Uh-huh. Roll your eyes if you want to, but it’s real easy to talk left about how a man should be able to just drop $200 like it’s nothing…until you actually try to do it. So yes, while taking yourself out on this type of date could serve as a bit of a reality check, it can also “scratch the itch” of waiting on some dude to do it for you. It’s also way less emotionally draining because, at least when you’re taking your own self out, it’s guaranteed that you’ll enjoy the company…right?
7. DIY some pampering. When you get a chance, check out “5 Reasons You Should Unapologetically Pamper Yourself,” “Want To Love On Yourself? Try These 10 Things At Home.,” “I’ve Got Some Ways For You To Start Pampering Your Soul,” and “When's The Last Time You Actually Pampered Your Vagina?” The bottom line here is pampering is all about, not mere self-maintenance; it’s all about treating yourself to levels of EXTREME SELF-INDULGENCE. So, if nothing else tickles your fancy on this list, at least consider doing that, chile.
8. Feed your creativity. Something that I used to be really good at is art. That said, one of my goddaughters is insanely talented, so she has reminded me to tap back into it. Also, a big part of what got me into the writing world is poetry; I actually used to be a house poet at a local spot. Sometimes, my best quality time moments with myself have been revisiting these creative sides of me — and this is definitely easier to do (and enjoy) alone.
9. Try some stargazing. When’s the last time you took a blanket into your backyard, laid down on it, and just stared at the stars for hours on end? While some say that stargazing can teach you to be mindful, others say that being in that form of nature reduces stress, while others believe that looking up at the universe at night can increase your attention span. All solid reasons to give it a shot, if you ask me.
10. DO. ABSOLUTELY. NOTHING. Let me tell you something that nobody will ever be able to make me feel bad about: doing absolutely nothing. I’ve got data to back me up. Good Housekeeping shares that doing nothing can help you decide how you want to respond or react to certain things. I like howThe Guardian says that taking this approach helps you to regain control of what you give your attention to.
TIME magazine says that it can ultimately make you more productive.BBC offers up that it can help you tap into your ingenuity.Henry Ford Health says that it can make you kinder and a better problem-solver. So, if you want to invest in yourself, do nothing sometimes.
Closing Thoughts from the Lovely Javicia Leslie
While some of y'all may know Javicia Leslie from being the former Batwoman, I discovered her back in the day from the indie series Chef Julian (and yes, "Julian" was right to say that "Mo" looks like Tatyana Ali...the real ones know). Sometimes I'll hop on her IG to see what she's got going on and this story popped up within a few hours of me penning this...so, I took it as hella confirmation.
TREAT YO SELF. WAIT FOR NO ONE.
WAIT FOR NO ONE. TREAT YO SELF.
RINSE AND REPEAT.
Sooo…what kind of masturdating plans do you have for this coming weekend? While going out with others has its perks, hanging out with yourself has a ton of ‘em too. Enjoy!
No…for real. ENJOY!
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Featured image by FOTOGRAFIA, INC./Getty Images