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Travel Diary: Karen Mitchell Explores Havana With Cuban Friends

In our second June travel diary entry, Karen Mitchell takes us to her favorite spots in Havana, Cuba.

Havana—June is “No Borders” month at OkayAfrica. That can mean a lot of things and we’ll get to that, but one thing we wouldn’t want to miss out on is the sheer joy of travel. So, to honor the carefree black traveler we’ll be posting new photo diaries from a wide range of African and diaspora super-travelers of their favorite places and why.


Our second diary entry—see the first here— is from the hair care expert Karen Mitchell, owner of the True Indian hair franchise. The Jamaican born entrepreneur has spent over a decade in the haircare industry. Beginning as a licensed cosmetologist, license honed her skills in salons from Brooklyn to Manhattan. Her experience as a stylist introduced her to her true passion: connecting image-conscious career women with easy-to-care for luxury extensions.

Mitchell’s dedication to this mission has propelled True Indian Hair to the forefront of the industry. Today Mitchell counts trend setting celebrities such as Taraji P. Henson, Ciara, Kelly Rowland, Rihanna, and Serena Williams among her devoted clientele. As a result, leading publications like ESSENCE, Black Enterprise and The YBF have all leaned on Mitchell’s expertise for stories as well as profiled her rise as one of the few African-American entrepreneurs in her industry.

Since it’s inception, the demand for Mitchell’s product has seen the expansion of True Indian Hair from it’s flagship Brooklyn boutique to Midtown Manhattan and Atlanta locations.

Mitchell is currently at work on expanding her franchise to Los Angeles and West Africa in the coming year. Check out her site here. Below, Mitchell tells us about some of her favorite moments from her trip to Cuba.

Roof top dining with friends at Havana's Hotel Inglaterra

Photos courtesy of Karen Mitchell

Photo courtesy of Karen Mitchell

This historic hotel has a prime location facing Central Park and very near the Capitolio, which means it’s perfectly situated for exploring the old town. Three cozy seating areas ensure optimum lounging and the roof terrace is legendary.

Visiting San Pedro de la Roca Castle in Santiago de Cuba

Photo courtesy of Karen Mitchell

Photo courtesy of Karen Mitchell

The large fort was built to defend the important port of Santiago de Cuba. The design of the fortification was based on Italian and Renaissance architecture. The complex is one of the most complete and well-preserved Spanish-American defense fortifications.

Taking a classic car tour in Havana

Photo courtesy of Karen Mitchell

Havana is known for its classic cars dating from before the American embargo. While parts can be hard to find, the cars are kept in top shape through a mix of Cuban ingenuity and care. Classic car tours are a great way to see the city in style.

 

Photo courtesy of Karen Mitchell

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Tay Iwar. Photo courtesy of the artist.

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In 2009, Peru became the first Latin American country to issue an official public apology to its afrodescendiente population for centuries of "abuse, exclusion, and discrimination." Since then, many have criticized it as more of a symbolic gesture, especially for its failure to mention slavery. It was also seen as a way for the government to highlight Afro-Peruvian culture over making any substantive improvements to the material conditions of Afro-Peruvian communities.

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The music video for his latest, "Meji Meji" featuring Davido, is here. Its upbeat vibe shines through as the two crooners go about their day in Ghana, singing sweet nothings to their love interests.

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