As the veil between the living world and spirit world thins, our co-founders reflect on how their ancestry and lineage led them to Wanderwomxn.
Here’s a reflection from Janna Zinzi about her lineage and how it has inspired her travels.
I became a travel lover by accident. My family vacations always consisted of car or train trips during the summers to visit grandparents and cousins but it was more about being with family than a destination. As an adult, I’ve always had jobs that required travel so I got to visit places I wouldn’t have visited myself on a vacation. And it made me curious. I learned a lot about Black American history through visiting different cities around the country like Kansas City, Detroit and New Orleans visiting landmarks, museums and yup, restaurants important to my culture. While the people who built these places aren’t my direct ancestors, their stories carry lessons and inspiration for us to carry on a legacy of Black brilliance.
I learned about ancestor worship in different cultures via travel. I first learned about African traditional religions when I visited Brazil and saw offerings left to orisha (nature deities) and ancestors in the Tijuaca Forest. When I visited Guatemala, I saw families having parties in the cemeteries where their loved ones were buried. They go to fly kites as a way to communicate with their ancestors. I visited the biggest kite festival and competition in the country where groups build kites as big as houses with spiritual symbols and messages of peace.
Travel is also how I can celebrate the ancestors I don’t know. I have Haitian heritage but do not have those connections through family or upbringing. However I’ve been able to learn more about honoring ancestors through Afro-Caribbean dance and it has been a way I’ve connected with Haitian culture as an adult. I never knew if I’d be able to visit but always knew that if I did, dance would lead me there. When a friend connected me to Riva Nyri, and Laurie and Teeyah at Le Getaway Adventure for a dance retreat in December 2019, it felt like ancestors welcoming me home. I felt I could claim my Haitian lineage for the first time because of that trip.
Travel always shows me ways that people share culture across the Diaspora and across the globe. I hope WanderWomxn will be a bridge to create more understanding, solidarity and straight up joy across borders.