Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o already had frequent traveler cred earlier than reaching world acclaim. Having spent her childhood in Mexico, america and her household’s native Kenya, the actress had seen her share of unique locations earlier than discovering stardom with movies like Twelve Years a Slave, Black Panther, the latest Star Wars sequels, and final 12 months’s Us. However whereas her alternatives to journey have expanded vastly, Africa stays one among her favourite continents to discover.
Within the final 12 months, numerous movie and TV tasks have taken Nyong’o to West Africa, a area that was beforehand unknown to her. Throughout one among these journeys, she visited Nigeria for the primary time to arrange for Americanah, a brand new sequence she’s going to produce and star in for the upcoming HBO Max streaming service, which is able to begin filming in March. We just lately caught up with Nyong’o on the official relaunch of Delta SkyMiles American Categorical playing cards, for whom she’s a model ambassador (“I spent three weeks in Ghana and I bought there on my miles,” she says) to speak about a few of her favourite African locations (to date), her suggestions for immersing in a brand new locale, and why she’s snug being uncomfortable.
Had you traveled a lot by way of Africa earlier than final 12 months?
Final 12 months was my first time in West Africa. I had traveled some in East Africa, Southern Africa, and a bit in North Africa, however Central and West Africa have been nonetheless form of new locations to me. Since final 12 months I’ve traveled to Nigeria, Benin and Ghana. So I’m making the rounds.
What’s probably the most shocking distinction between West Africa and East Africa?
In Accra, Ghana, I used to be truly form of underwhelmed as a result of it seemed a lot like Nairobi. However one of many issues that shocked me is how completely different our languages are. After I’m in East Africa, there are some similarities to the language; I can kind of possibly get one phrase or one other. In West Africa, the language is totally completely different to my ear. I didn’t anticipate in another way, nevertheless it was nonetheless surprising to me how little I understood. I understood nothing.
Had you felt that form of shock while you moved to Mexico?
Sure, however I had hung out studying French once I was youthful, so there was just a little little bit of similarity (with the) Latin-based language. For me, going to Mexico and being surrounded with a brand new language wasn’t the surprising factor. I’m used to being in environments the place I don’t perceive the language—however I’m additionally used to having refuge. In Mexico, there was no refuge.
Did these experiences make you a greater traveler?
Undoubtedly. Frequent journey like I’ve had has made it straightforward for me to really feel uncomfortable. I can stand up to the discomfort of being in a brand new place and never understanding how issues work. However I may also be curious and porous sufficient to soak up and be taught—to adapt to a brand new surroundings.
What do you do to regulate to a brand new vacation spot?
It’s all the time formidable to go to a brand new place and attempt to determine it out. One of many issues that I do is placed on the native radio station—whether or not I converse the language or not—as a result of simply having that characteristic in your life makes it much less daunting. You begin to acknowledge cultural patterns and begin to kind a sure consciousness of the place you’re in.
What are a few of your favourite locations in Africa to date?
I really like Zanzibar. I’d return there for certain. Meals is an enormous factor for me wherever I’m going, and I really like Zanzibari meals. I additionally just like the Swahili tradition. There’s a seafood market on the finish of the day in (one of many) native squares the place all of the fishermen deliver within the day’s catch and everyone eats collectively—I really like that.
Rwanda can also be lovely. It’s verdant such as you’ve by no means seen. And the persons are extraordinarily nice. What I really like about Rwanda is the sturdy sauna tradition—folks don’t meet in bars they meet on the sauna, and I really like that. Considered one of my most memorable physique scrubs was at a sauna in Rwanda.
And I really like the delicacies in Ghana. They’ve this pepper sauce referred to as shito that’s unbelievably tasty. It’s made with crushed shrimp and I don’t know what different goodness. It’s an accompaniment to quite a lot of their meals and it’s divine.
What sort of experiences do you search for when planning a visit?
I undoubtedly like to go to locations the place I do know somebody on the bottom. The very best go to is one that’s customized, and I like to go to that particular person’s model of their nation or their metropolis as a place to begin.
What do you search for in a lodge?
On the subject of lodges, I undoubtedly love my luxurious, so I wish to have all the important thing world facilities. However I additionally prefer it when there’s a native aptitude—a kind of authenticity, an curiosity in conforming or assimilating to the surroundings that stated lodge exists in. That’s what makes it particular to go to at least one lodge over one other in sure a part of the world.
Which lodges have stood out?
Kempinski Hotels do a extremely good job of metamorphosizing into completely different variations. I’ve skilled Kempinski in Kenya, each in Nairobi and the Masai Mara. I’ve additionally stayed within the Kempinski in Accra, they usually’re so completely different. I like that about that individual firm.
Additionally in Ghana I visited just a little cottage lodge in Elmina referred to as Mable’s Desk. They’re like cabañas by the seashore. That lodge began off as simply an eatery, a restaurant close to the Elmina Fort, after which it branched out to cater to individuals who needed to remain the evening–so there’s an natural development that it went by way of. I additionally like that as properly—just a little little bit of the excessive and just a little little bit of the country. It’s a unique form of luxurious. However the one factor I undoubtedly don’t like in any respect is tenting.