Calling For More Faith in 2018

20171230_090529As I sit on the veranda of my Christmas/New Year Air B&B in Ocho Rios Jamaica, aside from the amazing view of the Port and Beaches, GOD continues to look out for your girl. You know that meme that says, I don’t look like what I’ve been through? Well that is an understatement.

faith lady

2017 has been a complicated year. I was finishing up my Doctorate, yet I manage to take a trip Every month (a goal I set the previous year). I was forced into a new position on my job which would literally eliminate most of my bonuses, yet I took four trips in my birthday month (Cuba, Houston, Cabo & Iceland). I preached and taught less at my home church, yet spoke, hosted, song and was a Conference/Keynote Speaker three times outside of my church and 90% of it outside of GA. I guess it can be said that my “FAITH” has brought be safe thus far….

A dear friend of mine asked me, “Where is your book”? when you gonna write a book. I politely told her, God has not purposed that in my heart. She then said, “Well what has HE purposed”? Never one to back down, I said, “What would I write about”, being “Single, Saved, but Unsatisfied”? or should I tackle, “How to stay Saved in a foreign land”? If you are new to Heyyy Helen, you may not know that I have a great passion for Faith, Fashion and Football, but I also enjoy another “F” and it’s frolicking from City to City, State to State, and last; but not least, Country to Country (including Islands and Continents). At the time of this post I had already been to seven Countries in 2017, and can NEVER get enough. But back to the book..I was being sarcastic but I know there is something in me, I actually think I’m a great story teller (hence my blogs, when I sit still to do them 🙂 I also know that folks see what I want them to see, and not necessarily what they need to see. I say that again to reiterate that I thank GOD that I don’t look like what I’ve been through.

For every trip there was a sacrifice. For every materialistic thing you see there was me questioning GOD. (Yes, the preacher Questions God). There is pain behind every smile, but there is also PEACE that GOD showed me this year. He desires more from us, but I will stay with me…He was asking for MORE of me. Not just because I was a preacher. Not just because I am a child of GOD. Not even because He continues to do exceedingly and abundantly for me, but because HE SAID SO, and it was that clear when (with no forewarning), GOD was shifting things in my professional and personal life. In both areas HE wanted a different response and reaction from me, a level that showed Peace and that I Trusted HIM. I tried this approach (with success) recently and now laugh at how long it took me to simply do what HE told me to do.

2018 is going to be the year of purpose for me. What has HE purposed you and I to do? Was it a book, a business, or even going back to school. Were you supposed to give more, travel more, volunteer more? Heyyy Helen has a purpose, and I vow to TRUST the Process in 2018 and not let Fear block or overtake my Faith. No resolutions guys.. Just Vision, Purpose and Faith.

faith over fear

My Take: One Birthday; Two Very Different Places… Los Cabos & Iceland

I started taking solo vacation about 19 years ago while going through a painful divorce, it was my way of “attempting” to move on to the next chapter of what would be my new life. I felt the best time was going to be my birthday. Since my birthday is in July, and the best time to vacation (not the cheapest for sure) I would make this a yearly treat to myself and would do it SOLO. In these last nineteen years I have only missed two of these annual retreats due to illness and hospitalization. In 2016 I decided one vacation was not enough and took two. Last year was Aruba for me and Toronto for me and two friends to experience Caribana. Not to be outdone from 2016, this year I did Cuba for the July 4th Holiday, and for my birthday Cabo San Lucas Mexico and one week later Reykjavik Iceland. Here’s my take:

Los Cabos aka CABO

In Cabo I stay at the Breathless Resorts and Spa. This Adult-Only/All-Inclusive resort was absolutely amazing. If you’re looking for an adult atmosphere, but like to let the inner child come out occasionally, this my friends is your place. Poolside activities all day long, drink and food service at the pool is included. A rooftop club with themed parties in the evening, and room service. How could I forget the amazing view of the Marina on one side of the resort or the El Arco (famous Arch of Cabo rock formation) on the other. I walked on morning for 30 minutes on the beach in my shell-top Adidas (not smart but I burned calories), to get the best 90 minute, full body massage for $20 USD. Breathless charges $300 for 50 minutes… WINNING. Because me and these Run DMC Sneakers were not up for the walk back, I caught the water taxi to see the Arch for $15, and they liked me so much they dropped me off at my resort…FAVOR. I even found some young kids who saw me struggling with my impromptu Selfie Stick Photoshoot, yes you have to learn tricks when you travel solo, and they offered to take my picture and helped me back down off the rocks I climbed.

Aside from the resort, I met many amazing people both staff and vacationers. I think what resonated the most was I was the newbie to Cabo. Many of the people I met had been to Cabo before, I see now why they return. The gentleman on the plane next to me comes annually for a Guys Golfing Trip. I enjoyed the nightlife, authentic Mexican food (which I have always loved and I am by far the pickiest eater you will EVER meet J ) grown folks, shopping and the much-needed R&R. I had a ball solo, but I can’t wait to return for a Girls Trip!! Shout out to the two new friends I made and hope to plan a future trip with Ayanna and Letisha. You ladies made me your third wheel and we rolled hard. Thanks My Sisters XOXO

cabo outside

Reykjavik Iceland

Then there was Iceland. You may ask, what in the world possessed me to go to Iceland? Well I have always thought outside the box, and I loved seeing pictures of the Blue Lagoon. Iceland is NOT I repeat NOT cheap, so planning is essential. Many do this as a layover trip to save money on their way to Europe.

I booked my flight, hotel and transportation through Delta Vacation. My flight out of Atlanta was delayed 4 hours causing 5 of us to miss our connecting flight out of Minneapolis. This is when having status with Delta paid off. There is only one flight that leaves Minneapolis to Reykjavik daily. When we landed they handed us a pillow and toiletry kit and said we would have to sleep in the airport. No Ma’am No Sir…. I called Delta, spoke in my 7 voice (not quite 10 but they knew I wasn’t about the malarkey…LOL) and 20 minutes later my trip was rebooked to make up for the lost day and I was escorted to the Crown Plaza for a good nights sleep. I worked from the hotel that morning, had the hotel hold my luggage and take me to the Mall of America in the afternoon, and spent two hours in the Delta Sky Club prior to our 10:30 PM flight. Not bad for a girl with a plan and a gift to jab. My biggest splurge is I opt for First Class Seats, because although 5’7” I have long legs…let me stop playing I’m a Bougie Traveler J. This is a 6 hour flight from Minneapolis and New York and they are 4 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time.

The weather was in the low fifties when we landed the next morning and trust I did my homework. I packed layer type clothes as you truly can experience all four seasons in one day. I stay at the Radisson Blu which was not to my standard, and the Hilton was already sold out. But I made the best of the subpar accommodations. Food in Reykjavik is very expensive so I packed snacks and the Radisson did provide a full breakfast included with the package. I ate a HUGE breakfast and took fruit with me every morning for my excursions. I also packed my American Snacks and my insolated water thermal that kept my water ice cold all day. The water in Iceland is some of the BEST and safest water you will ever taste, they sell bottled water but frown upon it.

I have to admit this was the first trip I took that involved climbing, walking, and everyday physical tours. I promise you between eating on a budget (Dinner there on average is $70/person) and all the excursions I came home 10 pounds lighter.

I booked my tours/excursions through Viator a Trip Advisor Company and not Delta who was almost twice the amount. You can also rent a car, but a car rental for 5 days was $600 and yeah, ummm, no I was cool with the English Speaking Escorted tours, with free Wi-Fi and plenty of laughs. Unlike Cuba, credit cards including American Express were the preferred payment method, so I never did any foreign exchange to ISK currency.

My tours were the popular Golder Circle, Blue Lagoon, and Southern Iceland Tour, Black Sand Beaches and Kerid. Because I went in July there is about 22 hours of daylight so the Northern Lights was not visible. Most hotels have the black backing curtains, because you will never know when to go to bed with only 2 hours of darkness in the Summer.

I am hoping the pictures tell a better story, as I am really enjoying photography the more I play around with my camera. I am glad that I did not plan any activities on the date of arrival, but with my flight delayed I had to jump right into my tours. First was the Golden Circle, Blue Lagoon and Kerid.


This was the first of five stops. This National Park is the nearest and dearest to Icelanders. Great for hiking, picturesque views, and by far one of the most popular landmarks for tourist. It is said that the first Christian based Church started here as well and in 1928 a law was passed that Þingvellir will remain a protected area and shall always be the property of the Icelandic nation. Three guys in their early 20’s almost got left from our tour group, but once we got them in check, they were the first one’s back on the bus for the remainder of the tour



Second was Gulfoss also known as the “Golden Falls”. It is said to be THE most popular, and I must say with the great weather and sun we had that day, it was the most beautiful. There was more downhill walking than up, and our tour bus dropped us off at the top and met us at the bottom so we wouldn’t have to walk back up the hill.



Less than 10 minutes from Gulfoss, the locals pronounce it GAY-SER. Here is where we had lunch and you come to see the hot springs. The largest of them erupts as high as 230 feet every 10-15 minutes. You must be careful as the water is very hot, not to mentioned the not so sweet smell of sulfur may make your nose hairs singe. I order 5 hot wings here and a Coca Cola (they love water and Coke in Iceland) which cost me 1850 ISK~ which is $17USD. See what I was talking about.

Kerid Volcanic Crater

This is a newly added attraction to the Golden Circle Tour. It can be found in the Western Volcanic Zone of Iceland. I guess the part that was interesting was parts of this huge crater appear to have volcanic components while the low water level at the bottom and observable vegetation brings argument that it was not a Volcano. An amazing place to hike and take pictures. We were pulled over by the Icelandic Police to see if all tourist had on their seatbelts and that there were no ashes in the ashtray of the tour bus.


Blue Lagoon

Although touristy, it was on my bucket list, and my MAIN reason for wanting to visit Iceland. If you didn’t know, The Blue Lagoon was built in 1976 during operation at the nearby geothermal power plant. Many years later, people would come to bathe in the unique water and apply the silica mud to their skin and noticing an unbelievable improvement when they removed it. The water is over 100 degrees and feels so go when the outside temperature was in the 40’s. It is the MOST visited place in Reykjavik. I would strongly urge you purchase your tickets in advance, and know they will try and nickel and dime you for everything. I purchased the cheapest ticket, brought my own slippers, robe and towel (which you can). You can rent if you want, just know summer entrance for the pool was $80USD, so forgive a sista for penny pinching after that. I purchased a Slurpee like frozen non-alcoholic drink that cost me $5 USD. Some tours will purchase your ticket for you but I found that they paid the same thing I did. Oh BTW if you are a shy person, you may want to work on that, you are required to bathe WITHOUT your bathing suit prior to getting in the pool, and you are waiting in line naked with all shapes and sizes. There are lockers and attendants to assist. It is very busy, and the line to shower can be about 15-20 minutes so the last thing folks are worried about is how much cellulite is on your thighs LOL


After the Shower, 11 full hours of tours and the ride back I was ready for bed!!

Southern Iceland Glaciers Waterfalls & Beaches Tour

Same morning routine. I ate a HUGE breakfast, took some fruit with me, packed my thermal water bottle, and layers of clothes, it rained on and off but you will get wet at these waterfalls regardless because they are all massive.


So we bypassed Seljalandsfoss because there were too many buses there and went straight to Skógafoss. This waterfall is about 200 feet high and was pretty to look at. Normally you can get an incredible picture of you, the waterfall and a rainbow, but the clouds this day would NOT allow ME to be GREAT so it didn’t happen, but still remarkable.

Sólheimajökull & Mýrdalsjökull Glacier Walk

Here is where me and GOD had a great conversation. Here I was the only black person on this tour and probably within 100 miles, and I was glacier walking. Not just walking but climbing. I was scared, insecure as I saw others do it with ease, and downright uncomfortable. I got emotional when I made it to the top and saw others turn around or could not finish. I got even more emotional because when I got to the top and looked back, I saw how far I got and it became Spiritual for me. I didn’t give up, I was tired, afraid, and cold, but I made it. I didn’t look like the others and got stares occasionally while in Iceland, and even more on this tour, but I finished the task at hand. I could hear previous trainers in my head like Reco and Patrick saying “I know you not crying”, and “I know you not going to quit”, it all made sense when I got to the top. Thank You Jesus for ALWAYS pushing me to GO GET IT



Here is where we stopped for lunch and I was able to see my first black sand beach. I ate my fruit on the beach and remained in awl of what I seen thus far. I took my shoes off and walked in the black sand. Also there was a large out store Vikurprjon Wool Factory if you wanted to purchase souvenirs. Again Iceland was expensive but this Factory had the most reasonable prices on wool, hiking boots and apparel.

Vik Black Beaches

Vikurprjon or Vik for short was the most beautiful of the beaches. Interesting fact, all the beaches have black sand in Southern Iceland so you can’t say meet me at the Black Sand Beach, they will easily say, which one? Everyone flocks to climb the rocks and take pictures. On this day the Puffins were out. They are a strange bird in watching them fly. They they look clumsy and flap awkwardly and they are colorful like Kellogg’s Toucan Sam. They also fly in clusters getting in each other’s way.



Finally we made it the main attraction. Seljalandsfoss has a 197 foot drop and you can even go behind it. It was raining so hard for this one, that I stayed on the bus, but here is the one picture I took. I hate we rode past this one because it was too crowed in the morning, so we saved it for last. It is the highlight of the Southern Iceland Tour.

So my take was and remains, get out and do something different, see the World, and don’t let anyone tell you where to go and what to see. Take the limitations off of, I’m a Woman, I’m Black, I’m Single…because guess what? I’m all the above. Travel to me is appreciating the EARTH and Fullness thereof, and since GOD created it surely, he would want me to appreciate it ALL

Cuba: My TAKE!!

On June 6th me and my travel buddy finally confirmed and booked our trip to Havana Cuba. We had been pondering on it ever since President Obama relaxed the travel restrictions in 2016. It appears (and we were right) that “45”and his current administration was in a vicious attack to discredit and remove any and all policies and advances that President Obama implemented; without any significant reason other than to dishonor and delete his legacy. I am thankful that we did, 10 days later, in Miami with a crowd of Cuban-Americans behind him in support, “45” announced that, “Effective immediately, I am canceling the last administrations completely one-sided deal with Cuba”. The crowd irrupted and I called my friend to see if she too was witnessing this foolishness. I didn’t even call Delta or the Host of the Air B&B we had already secured and confirmed, yet I just started my count down and continued my research of the Country itself.

If I was completely honest, I didn’t have the same experience that many of the Black Travelers I follow on Facebook in the multiple travel groups. Not to say it was bad, it just had some peaks and valleys. The airport experience was the most interesting. Even with First Class tickets, the process to board with your Visa (which we had already paid for online) was unorganized, very shocking for Delta, who I utilized for 99% of my travel. Insomuch that we were delayed pushing back from the gate as there were still confirmed passengers completing “visa confirmation” paperwork. May I suggest some of this be done upon check-in, and may I also recommend that if one purchased their Visa online through Delta no less, that there perhaps be an expedited lane? Of the 12 seats in First Class, 7 were occupied by African Americans, and interesting enough, only about 25% of the total travelers were Black. Just thought I include that tidbit of information.

The direct flight from Atlanta was a hair under two hours, and the process once we arrived to Havana was without incident. We had changed our USD to Euro’s as highly recommended prior to the trip, we then converted to the widely utilized CUC when we landed at the airport (yes they were open on a Sunday). We knew that Internet was limited, restricted and pretty much unavailable so we made contact with family members prior to leaving Atlanta, and we arranged travel to take us to our Air B&B. Needless to say the driver was not there and we had no address, but we were able to get a signal, text the Host, and we took a taxi to the apartment.

The apartment was exactly as pictured on the inside, but the outside was old and dilapidated and I see why the HOST did not provide pictures of the outside. We did Air B&B, 1: Because that is our preferred method, and 2: because the money goes to the people opposed to the government (although I am told some still pay a tax) and it loosely “justifies” one of the OFAC requirements of People to People, We were provided with Cleaning Services, a Cook, and a direct phone line to call the Host for travel and itinerary suggestions. The major disappointment was the “HOST” spent an hour with us on day one and that was the last we saw of him. I called daily and although he answered there was always an excuse. To know me is to know I travel solo, and march to the beat of my own drum so one monkey was NOT going to stop this show. Not to mention my friend Lisa travels just as much (if not more) than I do, so we had no problem navigating all up and through Cuba. Word of Caution, you need to know at least basic Spanish, as I promise you we only ran into two people (other than Tourist) that spoke English. We selected an English speaking Host with the AirB&B and many of the Hotels have individuals that speak English, but that was still with some barriers. Remember that internet is restricted and/or very limited so your goggle translator may not be available when you are in heart of Cuba. And I can’t stress this enough….LEAVE YOUR AMERICAN PRIVILEGE BACK IN THE U.S. You are in THEIR County and ENGLISH is NOT THEIR official Langauage. OK I’m back J

We used the Habana Bus Tour (Hop ON Hop OFF) pretty much every day which cost $10 CUC for an all-day pass (BTW the bulk of our money was spent on Transportation). The Tour bus has an announcer but most time the intercom was fuzzy and her English was VERY broken. Stops included The Political Center, The University, The Capital, Marketplaces, Center Square (Old Havana and where most people transfer and a great amount of your time will be spent), Cruise Ship Terminal and many other Historic Landmarks, Hotels and attractions. You can Hop off at Park Center Square and for $5 go to the free beach. Beware it gets crowed as people start going before 9:00 AM. Varadero Beach in Matanzas, Cuba, is about a 90 minute commute and will cost you about $75 CUC per person, plus the cost of transportation.

We spent the bulk of our time interacting with the people, engrossing in their culture, taking our amateur photography status to semi-professional (well you be the judge) and LORD have mercy devouring Cuba Cuisine. I am the absolute pickiest eater you will ever meet (I don’t eat seafood, mayonnaise, Chinese food, most vegetables, etc…lol) but when I tell you I ate like a native E-V-E-R-Y-D-A-Y I am not kidding you. The local favorite and mine is the Ropa Viega which is shredded beef, served with vegetables, rice and bean, onions and peppers..and it was ummm ummm goooood J Lisa had a grilled lobster for @ $11 CUC that made me want to ask, “Can I have some”, and I don’t eat seafood. My dish runs between $3 and $7. You can eat GOOD for $5-7 and still have leftovers.

The people of CUBA love President Barack Obama, they often said his name when they see people of color that are obvious tourist. They curse “45” and in their BEST English. They are not as aware of the new changes were tourism from the U.S. may slow down, but it is said that less than 10% of their overall tourism comes from the U.S. I would argue that number after seeing Norwegian and Royal Caribbean Cruise boats docked and the oversold flight I was on from Atlanta, but I digress. Some of the concerns of the current administration and Cuban Americans is Humans Rights, are the lack thereof. I would be a fool to say we didn’t see obvious signs and that there is a great need of support. The average person makes about $300 a year from the government, and begging and hustling was prevalent everywhere we went. To avoid being taxed, Cubans often ask you to pay them on the side as they fear “cameras” are everywhere and they’ll be taxed. We over tipped and gave extra money and the people were often in tears from our generosity. AirB&B and US tourist, help them out tremendously, this recent reversal will be a blow for them.

The trip back was “suspicious”. Not because we had to pay the driver before we got to the airport on the sly. Not because the driver was 20 minutes late giving a new meaning to CP Time (Cuban People Time), but after we all boarded the plane, Cuban Customs randomly kept pulling Americans off our plane saying they bypassed or didn’t clear customs. The gentleman in the seat behind me even showed them “their” official stamp but they still made him get off along with a family of 4 with a baby. To know me, you know I lack patience, and was ready to “POP OFF”, I was hungry and wanted Dansani Water and a real Coca Cola. But what you NEVER want is to be detained or locked up in a foreign Country, so I kept my mouth shut. 90 minutes later we were heading back to the A-T-L. With our Global Entry Membership’s, we had the luxury to bypass the lines, and we were heading back to our cars in the fraction of the time.

I am thankful we took the trip. I am grateful to be blessed to have the opportunity to experience other cultures and see the World one trip at a time. And I am appreciative of the things we take for granted. The Cuban people are resilient, resourceful, and were rich in ways MOST of US would never comprehend. I am not sure what the future will hold for the people of Cuba, Tourism for US Citizens, or the Castro regime (Raul plans to resign in 2018), but my prayer is for Peace and a favorable outcome on all fronts.