I’m Nneka. My journey with Afros y Paella began in August of 2013, one month before I moved to Madrid, Spain to teach English. I’d been long enamored with Spanish as a language, Spanish culture and the country as a whole and five years after earning a minor in Spanish, I moved to the country of my dreams. And what a whirlwind journey those nine months I lived abroad were.
I left my hometown of Stone Mountain, Georgia, and quit my dream job as a newspaper reporter in exchange for new dreams. And whilst I had a vision of what life would be like and the things I would encounter in Madrid, it paled in comparision to what met me once I was there.
Transformation in every way imaginable — emotional, mental, spiritual, psychological — met me every single day, sometimes in every moment. It was if I was for the first time acquainted with who I was, the person I’d always been but afraid to be. I had to move 5,000 miles away to meet her. And every single day, sometimes in every moment, I am in awe of this woman, of me.
And this blog acted as the ground zero for all of those things. For every shift, every change, every epiphany, every sudden (or not so sudden) realization, I recorded them in this space. I recorded the most gut-wrenching heartbreaks I’ve ever faced, my grapples with friendships ending (and beginning), leaving Spain, moving to Washington, DC, being depressed, leaving Washington, DC. It’s all here. This space is sacred and special.
Initially, this blog was intended to solely be a travel blog, namely of a Black and African woman navigating life in Spain (hence the name), but since then it has morphed into something larger, a space of noting how travel can be transformative. A place for me to share those lessons, the growth, the messiness, the pangs and also to put a focus on writing from the heart. The name remains because it signifies the ever-constant traveling (journeying) I am sure to continue to do in my life, in different ways.
In this space, on this blog, I’ll share my travel stories, the lows and highs. I’ll offer tips here and there, too. But also, I’ll focus on the emotional, spiritual and psychological ties to writing, artistry and creativity, because those things are equally central to my being and important to me, too.
I want to thank you for joining me here. For being a companion on this journey, of my life, as it unfolds.
And may you find the inspiration, the light, the lessons, the consolation, the hope here you need.