Aired: November 3rd, 2021
Audio and Photo Source: Allison Irby Vu and Instagram
Sometimes things don't work out how we plan, but workout better than we could have ever imagined. This week on Wine Down Wednesday, we had guest star Allison Irby Vu join us. Allison fell in love with Spain after studying abroad and was determined to make it back there. After her internship program sent her to Latin America instead of Spain, that is where the real magic happened. Tune in as Allison tells us how she became a true local, building a chosen family and fully immersing herself in the culture.
Orion Brown (00:03):
Hey, y'all. Ooh, do I have it? I feel like I need to move it back a little bit. Hey folks. It's Wednesday. I'm so excited. Okay. Ms. Alison, wait, let me, you guys, I don't know how to work this. I'm trying to get it to like adjust. So my head isn't floating at the bottom. Hey, miss Alison. Hey Aaron. I see folks coming in. All right. Let me get Alison hooked up
Orion Brown (00:38):
At one time on time. I love it. Hey boss, lady, and oh my gosh. Curls popping. Yes. Yes. Curls popping. I'm here for it. Welcome. Welcome, Alison. How are you?
Allison Irby Vu (00:57):
I'm doing well. How are you?
Orion Brown (00:59):
Good. Good. Now I'm just going to tell you. Today tried it, but it failed. It failed. Oh, we got people coming in in the comments. Y'all everybody. I'm so excited. It is Wine Down Wednesday. And we've been doing a wine down Wednesday now for almost over a year. This is my highlight. This is my highlight of the weekend. I'm like so excited. We always bring in really cool people for those of you who don't know me, but he was a Orion Brown. I'm the founder and CEO of BlackTravelBox. I am also wait living my best life because I just got in this apartment like this month. And this view, baby, this view. Denver ain't big, but I got, I got the view of all of it.
Orion Brown (01:49):
So I'm feeling myself. I put on a ponytail for y'all. It's about to go down and our guests, Hey out, woke and see that's what's up. That's what's up. I love seeing the flavor that comes in the comments just based off of people's names. When they enter the real I'm like, there's so much flavor. I'm just here for it. Miss Alison. I'm so excited to have you. We, we we've asked the Kiki girl that you have a beverage. I mean, you could be, it could be a sparkling water. It could be soda. Does everybody got their beverage? Oh, I can hear you. I think we're up onto something now.
New Speaker (02:40):
Can you hear me? Okay?
Orion Brown (02:41):
Allison Irby Vu (02:43):
It was up under this, This is slime. This is my child's slime. This is what, this is what we're doing. This is why I need somebody to find me some wine.
Orion Brown (02:51):
Does it at least smell good. They use detergent for it.
Allison Irby Vu (02:55):
It smells like shaving cream.
Orion Brown (02:57):
Allison Irby Vu (02:59):
It's pretty and it's fun to hold when you're having a stressful Wednesday and you need to wind down and you don't have wine. At least you can just hold on a something.
Orion Brown (03:07):
I love. And for those of y'all who don't know, slime is just like, they're all the rage in the world. And there's so many little kids now that are like starting slime companies and making bank and like sending themselves college or something like that. Um, but I love it when they make slime with detergent because they just need it as a reagent. But when it's like, smells like gain, I'm like, yeah,
Allison Irby Vu (03:32):
It smells like borax and some kind of shaving cream.
Orion Brown (03:37):
Okay. So we got to get some Gain. We got to get some Gain for that. I love it. So we have a tradition here at Wine Down. We have everybody introduced themselves in a pretty consistent manner. And this gets the, uh, the, the juices flowing in the, in the, the, the conversation popping off. So tell everyone your name, where you're from, where you live and how many stamps you have on your passport roughly.
Allison Irby Vu (04:03):
Okay. My name is Alison Irby Vu, and I am a native Washingtonian. I'm from Washington DC slash MoCo Montgomery county. So we are the DMV representing the DMV. And I currently live in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Um,
Orion Brown (04:20):
I was just in Tulsa last weekend.
Allison Irby Vu (04:23):
Oh, I missed you. Um, yeah, so I am, I've been here six months and I have been to approximately 48 countries, something like that, A lot of stamps, a lot of revisits for sure. Um, but yeah,
Orion Brown (04:51):
That's pretty dope though. That's pretty dope. Um, so, so Arielle from Milwaukee, hopefully I said your name, right Hun. She says she doesnt have any stamps on her passport. Unfortunately, girl, look, if you go to Utah, right? That's like a whole different country. Montana is a whole different country. There are parts of Mississippi that I'm pretty sure are Africa. Like let's just,
Allison Irby Vu (05:12):
Utah is like another, it's like another planet. Oh yeah. I took my son, uh, two years ago, I think it was two years COVID years. I don't know, two years ago, I think. And he thought we were on Mars. He was like, mom, did we go to Mars? Because this is very different. So
Orion Brown (05:28):
A whole different world and sometimes in not great ways, but sometimes in some really, really fun ways, like where you get to a place. And you're like, I didn't think the earth looked like this. And within distance of me, just like either taking a flight or driving, um, why don't we go there
Allison Irby Vu (05:46):
Something that's happened a lot this year or during this, this time is we've explored a lot of states. So we haven't flown. This is 2020 was the first year in 20 years. I hadn't, I didn't go somewhere internationally. Wow. Yeah. And, but it was cool because it made us start exploring the US more. So my son's four and he's now been a 28 different states. So it's okay that your passport isn't stamped yet, but get ready because one, once you do it once, or you're not going to stop, but at least explore what's around. You take advantage of that too. Cause there's a lot of beauty in this country too,
Orion Brown (06:25):
And it's insane. It's insane. So what are some of the more shocking and I don't mean like, it doesn't have to be like, oh, I almost had a heart attack when I went there. But like, what are some of the more surprising or inspiring places that you've been to that you're like, Ooh, I wasn't expecting that.
Allison Irby Vu (06:43):
Ooh. I think one of my favorite experiences was, um, spending, uh, two weeks in Morocco. Um, cause I traveled all around the, the whole country and just saw the different landscapes. It's like one minute, you're, you know, you start the day in the desert and you know, you're riding a camel in the desert, the end of the day, you're in the snow-capped mountains and, you know, hanging out with monkeys and like, you know, just connecting with people, having there were such warm people. And I think being, um, a woman of color, being a black woman, seeing people that felt a kinship that felt, you know, that were like sister, you know, just feeling this, that kind of energy and feeling that welcomeness where you, I think we're told in the world, certain parts of the world are not warm and friendly in that way to outsiders. And so feeling that that experience throughout the country, um, was really, I mean, the people are beautiful. The food is delicious and the landscapes are breathtaking. So I didn't know what to expect.
Orion Brown (07:52):
That sounds amazing. That sounds, I'm going to Morocco in December, shout out to El Camino travel and going with a wonderful group of ladies. But, uh, that sounds brilliant.
Allison Irby Vu (08:05):
The CEO and co-founder she's, she was a DC, uh, DC woman as well, but she's from Columbia and I think they're, they're in the Columbia base now and I used to live there and it's one of my favorite. It's another one I'm always, it's always hard to take all these other countries because Columbia is like my second home. It's one of those places I think everyone should visit. Yeah.
Orion Brown (08:29):
Ooh. And so Katha is here. They're actually been here all summer, um, uh, Denver, Colorado. So she has family here. And so they've been kicking it with us all summer. It's been really dope. So I'll definitely have to tell her that, uh, we had, we had a kiki. I, we have like a, this is a small, it's a small world. Right. So tell me about your love for Colombia. Like how, where you, where did that come from? Was it family related? Was it a trip? Like how did you fall in love with Colombia?
Allison Irby Vu (09:02):
Yeah, I, um, I studied abroad the first time, like left the country the first time, uh, when I was 20 and I studied abroad in Spain and I was determined. I was going to get back to Spain. I was like, this is what I'm doing. And I found this program that opened up opportunities for people. Basically, you put sure it's called AIESEC. And it it's a French, it's an acronym for something in French that nobody uses anymore, but it's called AIESEC. And it's like a connection for university level students and recent graduates to connect with other folks in the program across the world. And so I just put my information in this database and, um, I was applying to a few things, peace Corps, um, AIESEC, and, um, and the jet program. So it was like, once I, once I went to Spain, I was like, what is like, there's so much in the world to explore.
Allison Irby Vu (09:55):
And I won. I was like, I'm going back to Spain. I was a Spanish. One of my majors was Spanish. Um, I've been learning Spanish. And so I was a kid and I was really determined. I felt like I learned so much more about myself. And I built my confidence up when I went to Spain, um, that I was trying to get back there. But what happened was when I put my information in this program, um, in the system, they gave me all these other opportunities. It was like, oh, they're interested in having you in Venezuela. They're interested in having you in Istanbul. They're interested in, you know, all these different places. So Colombia was one of the places. And what I knew growing up of Columbia was like white Colombians that were from Bogota. They spoke very proper Spanish. And I was super nervous about having to speak [inaudible] and just be a bit more formal.
Allison Irby Vu (10:47):
But I connected with this woman in the program and she was like, oh no, you would be living on the Caribbean coast. And I was like, oh, you know, I'm a woman of color. Is this going to be hard for me? And she was like, oh no, you'll blend right in. You'll fit in. Like we, you know, like, you know, they use it to form, not instead, like, you'll, you'll be fine. And that was a time in Colombia's history where it could've gone really wrong. Right. Like, um, just based on the politics and where things were and what we knew about Colombia at the time, there was just like, it was a risky choice. But the people that I connected with, they were selling Colombia. They were like, you need to come here. Like, we'll talk to your parents. We'll talk to whoever you need to reassure them that this is the place for you. Um, and Spain was like, we kind of might have a placement for you, but like, you'll see when you get here. And I wasn't trying to-
Orion Brown (11:40):
That sounds like Spain, where are you looking at Madrid,or like Barcelona.
Allison Irby Vu (11:46):
Orion Brown (11:47):
Where you- where you- for Spain? Was it Madrid or Barcelona?
Allison Irby Vu (11:50):
It was neither. So my program was a faculty led program and one of my favorite professors, I love her Carrie Douglas. Um, she led, she took us all around the country, so we had a homestay in Valencia. Um, and then we spent the time traveling and kind of exploring together with our professor. So that was cool. But what's your favorite?
Orion Brown (12:19):
I said Catalonia is not my favorite. So when you said, "oh, we don't know if we have a space." I was like that had to have been Barcelona, like-
Allison Irby Vu (12:26):
Well I ended up moving there later. I ended up moving to Barcelona and I was, um, facilitating study abroad for, um, re like Highstar college students from the US to study abroad in Barcelona. And yeah, I had a really rough time. Actually. I, it was a lot harder time than I thought. Cause I visiting Barcelona, I loved the architecture, all of the things, but to live there as a Black woman was a really challenging.
Allison Irby Vu (12:51):
It was, it was really like every week somebody asked me if I was a prostitute, I'm like, okay. They, there were a lot of, and I honestly, I think that, that Catalonia is a beautiful region. It's beautiful. And I think if you're integrated into the culture, it's a really beautiful life. Right. But if you're a Black woman, you know, I think it's a really hard. And I think just if you're an outsider, like if you don't speak the language, well, if you're not really connected to people, who've been there for generations, like it's just a hard place to enter. And Colombia, that's the thing. Colombia is the complete opposite. Um, people were welcoming us at the airport, um, checking on us all the time, inviting us over to, you know, to eat with their families. And it just was super genuine. You know-
Orion Brown (13:45):
That how you get me, have- let your r momma makeme some food? It's a wrap. Yes.
Allison Irby Vu (13:53):
It's so good. I miss the food. So I mean, but I would go back that for that first year was hard. Cause I was, you know, I was just out of college, but once I got my legs under me and kind of thought about it after I left, I was like, what did I like? I really didn't take full advantage. You know? So then I started going all the time and then I'd go like four or five times a year. So wow. You would always catch me. That's why like the countries are even as limited as they are, because I felt like I needed to go be with my, you know, my other family that it's an, they're an extension of, you know, of our family. So even now my son has been there. He had his birthday there, you know, they love him and like, um, like he's there, you know, nephew, like I would leave my son and Colombia with my people there before I would leave him with some people here. That's how close they are to me.
Orion Brown (14:47):
People aren't trying to live in the states. But what you touched on something really interesting. Cause I was going to ask like what enabled you to go back and forth like four or five times a year? And it sounds like you created some really close knit network connections that enabled you to kind of treat it like a family situation. So
Allison Irby Vu (15:11):
I think that comes with the language. It helped that. Um, yeah, I spoke Spanish when I went there, but I like really, really, I mean, now my Spanish is like, you know, not as solid, but you couldn't tell anybody that I wasn't from the coast of Columbia at that time. Um, I took a boyfriend back years later during the Carnival and that they have in Barranquilla, which is where I lived and they were kids, he's Puerto Rican. And they were like, don't talk, let her talk because they, they think she's from here. So things will be cheaper and all of that. But the minute you open your mouth, it's a wrap because you're a foreigner and she's not.
Orion Brown (15:52):
And he has the accent. Yeah,
Allison Irby Vu (15:54):
Yeah, yeah. So getting to that level of comfort, but I also was teaching there. So my students, like I really loved, I taught fourth grade there and they were my kids like to this day, they're my kids. So I would go back every year and go check in on them at their school and visit with the administration and you know, go kick it with the ladies at the crepes and waffles restaurant that I'm still obsessed with a Curry crepe, Curry crepe, and a waffle with fresh strawberries and fresh cream and homemade ice cream. Every time
Orion Brown (16:29):
I am convinced number one, that you can put anything on a crape and it will be the most amazing bomb meal. Like it's creeps are insane. Like they'd been, they'd been hiding from even hide them from us. Cause crepes are mad. Good. Like,
Allison Irby Vu (16:45):
Yeah, you can't. I mean, I would, every day someone would say, when I was visiting, what do you want today? And I'm like, you know what? I want to eat. Thank you already. By the end of the night, you know, we're going to get this waffle or we're going to get the crepes, like it's, what's going to happen and we're going to get some street food and get some, I mean, the food on the coast of Colombia is so good. It's, it's so good. Yeah.
Orion Brown (17:09):
What's distinctive about it. So for those of us who haven't been, and it's on our bucket list, but we need to nudge our friends to make us, make them take us. Um, Katha, I'm talking about you, um, What's the food stitch they're like and how did you get into it? Were you already in adventurous? And I've used that in air quotes because some people are like, if I can't go to McDonald's, I can't eat in this country. And then others are like, Ooh, spider paws or like monkey paws and like spider legs.
Allison Irby Vu (17:40):
I have to say, I have to say, there's this weird thing I don't eat. I don't eat. McDonald's like ever, but when living abroad, there's this connection to McDonald's for some reason, that's so strange that like, when you need that little taste of home, I'm like, I really just need to dip some French fries in a Sunday and like, you know, make it a thing. But aside from that, there was none of that kind of stuff. It's I'm not, I don't know. I'm a mild, like mildly adventurous eater, but there, the food is just, it's like, I mean, it's Caribbean, right? So it's on the Caribbean coast. So those are like plantains. Like they, you know, there's plaintains there's, um, there's so many fresh juices, like fruits that we don't have here, um, that just ??don't exist or things that you wouldn't know what to do with all these seeds that are like, you're just like, I would know what to do. So I'm just not going to do anything.
Orion Brown (18:39):
How does this work? Eat it whole.
Allison Irby Vu (18:40):
Don't even venture you're like, no, I can't, I can't understand that. So I can't do it where you go to just a food data, like just a local, you know, fresh fruit. And then they create these amazing juices that just have like the right amount of icynessand, um, and empanadas, but on the coast the empanadas are different. They're not like, I feel like there are tons of empanada, places that are there. They're just a different style. They're like baked and these are not, um, and they have a whole bar of like different sauces and different like creams and, and it's all good. Like there's, there are very few street foods in Colombia that I'm like, Nope, not doing it. There's one. And it's, I just don't trust it. And people love it. It's just one I. It's the only one that- it's like a mystery meat to me.
Allison Irby Vu (19:36):
It's like these little balls of meat. And then I just, it's the only thing I was like, Nope, not-
Orion Brown (19:43):
It's got some toes in if I bet it's good.
Allison Irby Vu (19:46):
I mean, people love it, but this is another place where fresh mango, like they sell, they have little Mango stands where they just chop up the Mango and they put like lime and they put salt on it. And I don't, I'm not even a mango person, but like Mongo and Colombia, friends from other places who, who came to visit were like, Hmm, this is a special level of like play like from India, from parts of the world where mango was like known to be. It's a thing. Yeah. A thing. There were like, nah, this is, this is real. Like the real stuff.
Orion Brown (20:19):
And it tastes different too. Like depending on where it's grown and the kind, you know, yellow skins and Redskins and green skin where it's like, you're not, it's not right. No, it is right. It doesn't turn or, you know, like that kind of stuff. Um, and you get
Allison Irby Vu (20:32):
[inaudible] it's coconut rice. Yeah. Like they're special. I mean, just to go to the beach and a guy's like in his little boat and it's just like, what fish do you want to be able to get your fresh fish? You know? And we pick where you're going to eat. You have like plantiain however you want them depending, you know, the style that you want. There's just, I don't know. It's just fresh and it's good. I think that's what makes it, um, so delicious is just the freshness of it. Um, and the love, like, Colombian people are just love, you know? Like you feel that. So it comes through in the food
Orion Brown (21:14):
That sounds now a I'm hungry. I'm not even gonna lie. I'm hungry as hell. I'm mad at you for making me hungry. Um, but I do want to, so Colombia is obviously on the list. We're going to be, we're going to be harassed and fishermen. We're going to be, I'm going to eat the mystery meatballs. I'm going to say if nothing else it'll be a good diet. If I don't, if it doesn't sit well with me, I'll be like five pounds done. And we're good. Like, it's all good. Um, I feel like every country has that to some extent. So like we have spam here. We also have scrapple I'm sure you know, scrapple from,
Allison Irby Vu (21:50):
I don't, I don't like scrapple
Orion Brown (21:53):
The meat is gray. Y'all like to me. I'm like, if you can make a veggie burger burger bleed, the scrapple should at least be meat colored.
Allison Irby Vu (22:01):
This is the scrapple of Colombia. Yeah. It's grey balls.
Orion Brown (22:08):
I'll ty it just because it'sColombia,
Allison Irby Vu (22:10):
My favorite street food though. Um, it is, it's really interesting. It's um, you go to like this little street vendors and it's, they're kind of, it's like if somebody took a bag of potato chips and just kind of smashed it up, but they actually sell this, it's like, they actually sell it. Right. Like it's like little pieces of, um, of the potato chips and it has, you can get chicken on top of it. And it's like these different sauces. And I don't know.
Orion Brown (22:48):
It's the hand taco here. Are we doing with Fritos? Yes. You put it, you open the bag, you crush up the Fritos and you put like chili or meat or whatever on top and sauce. Yeah.
Allison Irby Vu (23:00):
Yeah. It's it's really good. Um, and then they It's it's much better. It's much better. Yeah.
Orion Brown (23:08):
It's, I'm sure it's a thousand times better. I I'm not mad at it at all. That sounds amazing.
Allison Irby Vu (23:12):
Yeah. It's like, it's called [inaudible] is the name of it, but they put different things on it. So it has these little chips and they put that on hotdogs too. I know this wasn't a big thing for me, but they, they do hot dogs, like Mexican style, hot dogs. They do all kinds of interesting, like a lot of stuff to hot dogs to.
Orion Brown (23:30):
So this feels like a really good snacky place. Like this feels like a place where it's like a progressive dinner where you're like, let me have a ball. Let me have a hot dog.
Allison Irby Vu (23:39):
So hot on the coast. Yeah. You don't want to eat like a big heavy meal. So having fresh fish and having rice and like a small salad or having things, snacky things like a true. So that's like a plate that has, you know, it's like, you can pick, it's not a super heavy, whereas like the interior of the country, it's more like heavier soups and stuff, your ribs and stuff that keeps you warm. Yeah. You don't need that. You got the human warmth on the coast. That's all you need to keep you on.
Orion Brown (24:10):
She said, the people look good and the food is great too. Right.
Allison Irby Vu (24:14):
And how, how good the people, that was the hard part. Like as a, as, as a woman moving there thinking, I was like, you know, I'm 21. I'm cute. You know, I can, I should, this shouldn't be, this should be a good thing for me. Right? No. I mean, our neighborhood I've lived in, so it's like, you know, booties and like cute little, you know? Yeah. It was, it was rough. And a friend, I used to tell a friend all the time, how challenging it was. And she came to visit and we were in the bathroom at the mall and she just looked at me and was like, okay, all right. I thought you were kind of like, I thought you were kind of full of it and now, okay. She's completely flawless. Like we're sweating. Cause it's like a hundred degrees, a hundred percent humidity trying to keep makeup, trying to look cute. She's like completely just like, it looks like she just put on fresh powder, her hair staying in place. She's wearing all white, you know, booty poppin looking like, you know, she just
Orion Brown (25:15):
No lipstick stain, no mustered stain, nothing on her.
Allison Irby Vu (25:16):
Nothing. And we're like, no, this is not fair. And it's yeah, they're beautiful. The people are beautiful.
Orion Brown (25:24):
Well go inland wher they eat.
Allison Irby Vu (25:30):
But yeah, Colombia definitely needs to be on the list. It should be on everyone's.
Orion Brown (25:33):
Oh my gosh. That sounds amazing. It's it's really funny. So that, that idea that dichotomy of like seaside, like seaside parts of countries and how well, although I'm a little surprised at like, cause to me, those were very heavy snacks. So those are very, very heavy snacks. Um, I think of places like Croatia where you're along the coastline and everything is like seafood and cevice and it's like super light. Like, so cevice y'all so like cevice. If you got stomach like mine, you throw it in there. And you're like, Ooh, it's so good. And then you could hear it going down. Cause it's just like a little piece. It's just, you know, even they give you a ton of it, doesn't feel like it's, you know, a ton of food. Um, but they also have the same thing where you go inland to towards Bosnia. And it's like, here is a platter. Instead of it being a platter of fish for two where you're like, oh my gosh, this is so nice. And like, look at all this food, like we totally saved money on this. That is like, they believe they bring you like a 50 pound platter of sausages, like different types of sausages. And you're like, I have meat sweats looking at the meat.
Allison Irby Vu (26:36):
That's what the interior of Colombia is like, it's I will share a picture with you of my two year old son in front of this platter of meat. And he was like, I mean, it's like pork is every type of meat you've never seen, never heard of in your it's an entire it's called the [inaudible]. And it has like everything that could be found. Every part of meat that could be found and it's he saw some piece and he was like, Ooh, bacon, just like grease all over.
Allison Irby Vu (27:07):
You look really excited. And it's the cousin of bacon. Like that is what it's like. But one of the best of ceviceI've had a lot of good cevice. Peru is like amazing. Once you've had cevice in Peru it's like, yeah, it's hard to have another cevice. But before, um, Anthony Bordain passed away, he highlighted on one of his shows. He highlighted the [inaudible] in Cartagena which was on the, you know, on the coast of Colombia. And so it was like, oh, I got to check this out and it's oh my gosh. So good. I tried to go there three times in one day.
Orion Brown (27:42):
I mean, why leave? Like this is my thing. Unless they kick you out for a siesta, you should just stay there all day.
Allison Irby Vu (27:49):
But they have lobster cevice, they have shrimps. I mean, it's like all these different types of each. It's so good. It's
Orion Brown (27:58):
Yeah. Okay. Seriously. I'm so hungry now. Um, I, oh my God. I love that. Now. How so with all these food experiences, have you picked up any like tips, like from a cooking perspective or do you like them to just make it and bring it to you?
Allison Irby Vu (28:13):
Have I picked up tips that I use at home?
Orion Brown (28:16):
Yeah. Yeah. Things that you can make now.
Allison Irby Vu (28:17):
I've tried like, so another thing about Colombia living is you like a lot of folks have people that like work in your home. Like you have someone to cook for you, whatever. And we had this older lady, who made like the bar, like her food was so amazing. There were being days we find like her hair and it were like, I don't care. I'm just going to eat it because it's There. Even the hair is good. Right? Like
Orion Brown (28:50):
That's why, you know, you trust somebody, right? Like it's like your mama getting, you know, you're like, oh, she didn't drop the finger nail. Like, you know, we just, that's funny. He just going
Allison Irby Vu (28:58):
To talk to that. I might suck on it a little bit.
Orion Brown (29:02):
My waste, that hot sauce, noise that
Allison Irby Vu (29:05):
No, like her food was so good. And she'd make these things that like didn't really exist in restaurants that, you know, I'd ask, can you show me how to make this thing? And she's, you know, do you know people that really know how to cook, don't measure anything for this. And then you put some of this and I could never make what she made. And she gave me the recipe for her [inaudible] that was like my favorite thing that she made, because she'd actually take like the coconut, you know, the one with like the, the heroin and other brown coconut, like scoop out some of it. You like, you cook some of it, you don't cook all of it. Like you take the there's so many issues.
Orion Brown (29:46):
Some people just like taking the jelly out and then yeah. Okay.
Allison Irby Vu (29:50):
People put coconut to make it sweeter. Um, there's all these different tricks to make it just like your particular, you know? And so I got this, this cookbook of like got the handout recipes or whatever to get like the Afro-Colombian and we just don't have this stuff, you know, she's literally going up to the neighbor, getting a machete, chopping open, you know, crashing. I'm like, this is, you can go to the Asian grocery or sometimes
Orion Brown (30:17):
I just say the Asian groceries, B, B close though. They'd be like that jackfruit is only about three and a half hours old.
Allison Irby Vu (30:24):
It's true. But it just was never it's that love that she just put into it that ease. That just, it kind of made me sad when I make it. I'm like, mm, I just need to go back to Columbia. You know? So yeah. I just enjoy there because it makes me like long for Columbia when I try to do it at home. And it's just like,
Orion Brown (30:46):
It's just not right.
Allison Irby Vu (30:48):
You just need to go home. Like you just need to go and get it, you know?
Orion Brown (30:51):
Oh, I love that. I love that. And I love this idea of making the world, your home away from home. Cause like, it sounds like you didn't have any connections there until you went and just the people embraced you.
Allison Irby Vu (31:04):
Yeah, that's totally it. Um, and I mean, I still, I talked to my friends and if, even if we don't talk all the time, the minute we touched down revisiting, you know, my, my kid is the grandson of my close friends, you know, like he's, he's one of the grandkids, you know? Um, and it just, it it's home. It definitely is. I always tell people, Columbia is my second home. It doesn't matter how long I'm away. I get back and feel just as deeply rooted and connected. Um, as you know, as I have, since I think that first year, because that first year was rough, it was, it was not easy, you know,
Orion Brown (31:45):
Can I get a glove in the mall bathroom? So there's the first thing
Allison Irby Vu (31:49):
I'm sweating it. And being, I was like, we were four Americans who were living in a house together. We were teaching at a school across the street from our house. So it was like living and breathing with these people that you work with. And then literally sitting on your, on your couch and your students are yelling up there, yelling, they know where you live, you know? So their parents are coming and knocking on your door when you're having lunch. Like, why didn't you give my child this grade? You know? Like you could have,
Orion Brown (32:22):
Don't tell nobody what'd your baby can read. Like, but that's like, that's the, to me, that's sort of the neighborhood feel, right? Like that's the small town, that's the neighborhood where, you know, you get chastised by somebody as a kid, you get chastised by somebody up the block. Like, they're your parent because they're like, you were raised better than this. It's like, but you didn't raise me
Allison Irby Vu (32:44):
It's to teach. And another in that culture too, because there, it was like, don't send your kids to the principal's office. Like, they're your kids now, like you're in charge. So whatever behavioral issues, whatever stuff is going on, you're navigating it. Oh, they, they started their period. You figure that out. Oh, they have this going on. Like you work it out, you know? So it just created a deeper connection. So, but it was just, it was a lot, you know, when you're just going to a principal first time and you're living there and trying to adjust, it can be a lot. So, but like afterwards with reflection and then going back, I feel like that's so important. Like when you have, I guess if it's a really, really bad experience, you don't need to try like, go again. You don't need to try it again.
Allison Irby Vu (33:29):
But yeah, because I've been like, I have a deep love for South Africa as well. And I, I was teaching, um, teaching abroad. I was teaching recent grads. I was doing a gap year, um, teaching a gap year program. And it just changed how I felt about South Africa, um, being there with these students. And it was really hard. I was like, I am not the in South Africa, not friends. And I had to go back. So I was like, I'd love South Africa too much. And it's so special for my last memories to be what they were. So it was go back. So you can fall in love again. Cause it, it deserves for you to give it another chance, you know, to just like walk away. And you're good on that experience. And there are other places it's like, no, you know, there's something special there to go back to it. You
Orion Brown (34:18):
Know? Have you gone back or no? Yeah.
Allison Irby Vu (34:21):
Orion Brown (34:22):
Did you fall back in love? Is that your blue? That's your side? That's your side piece over Columbia.
Allison Irby Vu (34:28):
We didn't love Tulsa. The, I was thinking of, of move abroad. Um, eight town is one of those whoop, um, or back to the, to the coast or other that's another place. And then somewhere in Southeast Asia, either Vietnam or Thailand. Um, okay.
Orion Brown (34:52):
And that's actually a really interesting segue cause I was going to ask, are there other places on the planet that, you know, you would cheat on Columbia with like that you would be like, oh, I can see you a couple of times a year. You know, see what's up.
Allison Irby Vu (35:05):
Yeah. My, I have, you know, when you, you know, when you travel and you explore a lot, I'm like, let me plug in because I do not
Orion Brown (35:12):
That's okay. I got light issues. Cause the sun's gone down. I'm over here with these Hollywood lights looking crazy. Cause I don't bake my face. Y'all I should put, wait, hold up. Let me see if this, what this filter looks like now. Oh my gosh. My face is so blurred out. Oh you can kind of see it the closer I get. Let me if maybe if I put the light up brighter. Okay. It doesn't look as crazy. I don't look like an orange Cheeto. I have my set up. Perfect. I had this big green light and that it worked really well with the filter. And now with these little ones, I'm like, I looked like a Cheeto
Allison Irby Vu (35:49):
To me. You'd have to teach her filter life. Cause I did not. This is my first live.
Orion Brown (35:58):
Allison Irby Vu (36:00):
I'm like, I need some sexy background and my face.
Orion Brown (36:04):
No, this is all we need. We need to chill because you know what? This is the, these are the Kiki's. These are those moments where you're like girl and you're talking and you're you're, you're face to face with each other and you got your glasses. I'm like girl, oh my God. And these, these now you might use some expletives. These girls down here at Columbia, out here with their all white outfits. I can't even walk around with a white shirt without getting some ketchup on it. That's what we create here. So it's real. It's real. You're gonna see, you're gonna see reflections. You're gonna see, I mean, this is the fanciest I've gotten just cause I got this background now y'all don't even understand my house is a mess right now. I got everything still in boxes and I'm just like, man, it's so pretty.
Allison Irby Vu (36:52):
I mean, that's a pretty, pretty good. It's a pretty good view.
Orion Brown (36:57):
Beautiful of you. God's been good. God's been very good. Um, but yeah, so, so this idea of having other places on the planet that you would go, like, what is your like number one spot that you'd be like if Columbia was not on the map, where would you, where would you hang out at the end of the United States when it's, when it eventually collapses on itself and you run it, do you want to escape
Allison Irby Vu (37:27):
In the United States?
Orion Brown (37:29):
No, no, no, no, no. The United States collapses on itself and you're like, I need to flee to another country. Where are you going to go? Where are you going to put those roots down?
Allison Irby Vu (37:37):
I mean, if we don't consider politics and stuff, just like the feeling like what feels good. I love Cape town. Um, I love it. I'm sure there are other places. I think I'd say Cape town and also, um, the Cape Verde islands. Um, and I say that because my, my biological father is, uh, his father's from Cape Verde and I did some heritage seeking a few years ago and I got to go there and I literally had, I was just like, I want to know more about myself through this experience. I don't know his family. I don't know anything really about them. I have a letter that was sent to my grandfather in like the forties or fifties or something. And it had some names from people and I was like, and I know he's from the island of Fogo. So I was like, I'm just going to try to get to full, go and see what I feel there. Right. And I shared this, my friend, Jessica, who was on she was she joined.
Orion Brown (38:44):
Oh, oh no. I don't know if I'm frozen or you're frozen. I'm just going to be quiet. Hopefully I'm the one that's frozen. Did I lose my connection? Wait. So for y'all in the comments, let me know if, what the, what the free situation is. Okay. She is. Thanks, Rob. Hey, what's up, Rob? How you doing? I'm sure she's going to come back. What's what's good. What's popped in son. What's popping. Um, I love that you guys always come through. I love that you guys come through. Thank you for coming through. Thanks for all the support. See Ariba, Columbia. [inaudible] okay, cool. Let's get that salon ship right there. Yeah. Allison, I wasn't sure if I froze or you did. So I was just like putting out a DSA, like I'm just going to sit here and drink.
Allison Irby Vu (39:45):
That's the best thing to do?
Orion Brown (39:47):
Um, the worst wine it's so bad. I stole it from an event and I'm like, no I'm but I'm like, it tastes like grapes. Why don't you not taste like grapes? Let's just, let's start with that. Like this tastes like a green grape and I'm over here drinking. Grapefruit juice, grape juice.
Allison Irby Vu (40:04):
Oh man. Yeah. That's my,
Orion Brown (40:07):
You went on an adventure. You showed up in Cape Verde. You like, this is what, this is what I know about my family.
Allison Irby Vu (40:13):
Let me show up. And Kate bird. And I told my friend, Jess, that I was going, I was like, I'm just going to go. I'm going to finally do it. And she was like, oh, I have a new friend. You know, I have a friend who is new to DC. You teach her about what's going on in DC. And she can teach you about Cape Verdean culture. Cause that's where she's from. And I just mentioned, she said, what's your family name? And I told her our family name. And she was like, oh, that's my dad's like second name. Right. And I was like, oh cool. What island are you from? She tells me, oh, he's from Fogo. His family's from full go. And I was like, oh cool. This is just by the off chance. Like I've got this letter. It has some people's names there.
Allison Irby Vu (40:50):
They would be like a hundred something years old. I'm sure nobody knows them, but I'm going to send you this letter in 10 minutes later. She's like, so the woman who wrote your grandfather, that letter is my father's godmother and it's his aunt. And she just died a few years ago. But whatever hotels you booked canceled them. My father's going to call you from the airport. They got the whole, like the whole family's at the airport to greet me. And I was going onto another island. I was going to the, to the island. My grandfather was born on and they were like, well, we got a big pot of soup waiting for you. When you get back. Everybody's like, I'm cooking. So I got to go. But we'll see when you come back and this is your cousin and going to go on the flight with you to make sure you get there. Okay? Okay.
Orion Brown (41:37):
So what happens to that in the world? That, that thought right there where you it's to me, it's like you ever dropped somebody off late at night and you're in the car. You want, you got to turn down the radio. Cause you can't read the signs for the house number unless the radio is turned down, but they get out the car and they're like, okay, I'm good. I'll buy it. And you're like, Nope, I'm sitting right here until you open the door, get in the door, close the door and lock it. You can listen to that lock. And then you're like, okay, now pull off exactly to me. Is that idea of, okay, this is your cousin. He's going to go. And I don't even want to say out of his way. Cause I feel like we should do this for each other anyway. Yeah. I don't think that it would be out of the way if like he had somewhere that he committed to being not,
Allison Irby Vu (42:24):
I went to his family's house. So we sat on the plane together. He told me his story. We went to his house to do his thing. Then the driver was, you know, informed of where I needed to go and make sure and everybody, you know, he knew the driver and if he's going to get you there safely and you know, then I came back and I stayed with him. I did cancel the hotels. And I stayed with the woman who wrote the letter to my grandfather, stayed with her daughter and her family. And it was magical. I mean, these people embrace me. They showed me, they shared just so much information with me and mind you, like my Portuguese is, you know, um, and my Creole, which is, you know, they're like Creel was even, I mean, it was non-existent but there was so much love every day. My prima, she was my cousin, Anita. She would invite over different family members for me to meet and have like a big lunch with fresh, you know, um, bucket it's Cod basically.
Allison Irby Vu (43:28):
But yeah, it's in Portuguese. So it was like, they're literally in the fish guide, comes to your door to see what fish, you know, do you want Cod, do you want tuna? What do you want today? Everyone meeting all the family. And it was, it was beautiful. And just being at a table of random table somewhere and sitting down and having my hand, my skin color, like look like someone else's just like match. Like you couldn't tell where one person started and the other person ended. It was just a beautiful, you know, and not have people be like, oh, where are you from? You must be mixed. You must be this. Like you must, you know, and just being somewhere where people were like, you're us. Right,
Orion Brown (44:04):
Right. Or, or it doesn't even occur to them to even note that like, yeah, if they had to pick you in a lineup, they could be like, okay, so she's caramel color skin. And she has these big views, but like, girl, you hit on something, you hit a nerve, you hit a nerve for me. I grew up in Chicago and I'm bright as hell. I mean, it ain't just the lights, but it is kind of the lights a little bit. The lights, the lights. No, but you know what? I have a baby picture where between me and like the white to pink blanket and you can't tell, except there's some pink lips in the middle. Like just, you know, like I'm pretty, I'm pretty fair skin. And, well, my parents were just Black. Like, I mean, my mom is lighter skin, but even I'm brighter than her, you know, sometimes stuff skips generations.
Orion Brown (44:49):
But it's real interesting when people, you know, the first question out of their mouth is are, what are you, where did you come from? Oh, clearly you must be this or that. And it's last be something else. Yeah. Let me open my mouth first. I want you to hate me for me. Not hate me for how I appear. Like really? I want to provide you with some good fodder. No, that's not right. I'm not gonna say that, but I kind of, or don't love me or don't love me for that reason either. Right. And accepting, welcoming, because you assume these things not, you know, either way and it's it's, but there is something really beautiful about being it's. I have to say I had the oddest experience in Japan because we, I remember being on a train and they have advertisements all over the train.
Orion Brown (45:34):
They look like ticker tape or whatever, just like coming from the ceilings. And then they have the stuff on the walls and I felt this sense of absolute glee. This is sort of the opposite idea, but I was so excited to see everything nonwhite and it actually cared that it was Japanese or Asian or whatever you want to consider it. But I was just like, this is so cool to be in a space where beauty has a different sense of ubiquity. I was like, come on with Japanese people. Now don't crowd me on the train. But yes, Japanese people see that it means that I need some more wine. Y'all that's my booster charge. It's mercury. We had almost an hour. I'm sure your phone is like, I'm done with you so angry. It really is. Um, so before we close out, like, cause you've shared, I can't edit this out later cause they don't let you edit nothing out here.
Orion Brown (46:38):
So we just stuck with it. Um, before we close out, like you've told us a lot about Columbia and being embraced by people, the idea of having family outside of your family and having home away from home. And it seems like, I mean, let's be honest. It seems like you also attract people who are like, you know, who, who, who connect. Right. And I'm sure that's this personality and all of that other stuff too. So you special value special, but like what tips would you give to the folks that are watching? If they're like, I can't stand my family and I really want to travel somewhere. Like what are some ways in which they can open themselves up to those types of relationships so they can create that feeling of home away from home. I know it sounds scary,
Allison Irby Vu (47:29):
But I think the most impactful way for me has been to go alone. I know it sounds scary when you haven't done it all and you know, when you haven't traveled a lot, um, but I mean maybe it's doing something like El Camino, right? Like maybe it's something where you just don't know people. Um, but I think for me, it's, it's going alone and learning about what you're made, like what you're made of, you know? And I think it allows you to be vulnerable when you're by yourself in a, in a healthy way. Right? Like people see you, you know, I'll go out to a restaurant and just sit at the bar and eat dinner at the bar. And people are like, wow. But like, are you waiting for someone? Cause like, what are you doing by yourself? And I'm like, no, I didn't for the next meal, I'm waiting for the next course, baby.
Allison Irby Vu (48:20):
That's what I'm waiting on. You know, I'm like having my dinner, my drink and having my wine, whatever, you know, and I'm chatting with a bartender who was telling me all the local stuff to do. Um, I'm just people watching people are just more open to like, to you and to engaging you when you like in your, you're able to let your walls down a little bit more and in a different way, when you're not just clinging to the person that you're with, when everything is like what you're doing together. So I'd say, you know, find, potentially find one of these cool groups that you can go with where you don't know anyone, but it allows you to open up and get to explore things more. Um, that's because I just got tired of waiting around for people like, oh, well I can go. I wanted to go to Peru. I found a cheap, like a ticket for 200 something round trip from DC. And everyone was, I mean, if you could just go these days and I was like, no, $200 to get work. Maybe that's not how that works.
Allison Irby Vu (49:23):
I'm going to take this ticket and it's okay if you're not ready, but I'm ready and I'm going, and I'm just, I'm going to plan it, but also go with the flow. Like if I just meet those were really cool or like, Hey, we're doing this thing. Do you want to come with us? And then you just develop these, you have these experience with experiences with people and these stories that add to your story, right? And then you build these relationships with people and it just, it's a muscle that you've just learned to start working as you start to travel. So I not being afraid to just go, you know, um, I think it's the biggest teacher of, you know, who you are. It, it really is. So that's what I, I kid he's now my favorite travel partner. He's amazing if road trip a flight across the, you know, the ocean, whatever it is, he's the best.
Allison Irby Vu (50:19):
But until he came along, I love traveling by myself more than with anybody else. Cause I got to meet more people that I wouldn't met. Cause they wouldn't have been looking at me. I wouldn't have been paying attention to them, looking for each other when you know, when you're with people that you're with. So yeah, I'd say just dare to do it. You there's a place you've always wanted to go. You haven't been, you've never stamped your passport. Do the research, find a group. Maybe if you're too nervous to do it alone for the first time, but at least like seek it out, do some research and just
Orion Brown (50:52):
Go dare to do it. I love that. Just stare. Um, that is a great note to end off on. I know we have a lot of people who are like, you know, they come in the wind down and the original intention of wind down was we can't go nowhere. So we might as well talk about going places now. Things are opening back up. I mean it's a little sketchy, like for my Morocco trip, I'm like, Hmm. Do I really want to go to Charles de Gaulle airport? Maybe I don't need to go through there because it might be a problem. Um, but that idea of just like dare to go be smart, you know, but dare to go and give yourself that.
Allison Irby Vu (51:30):
What am I? One of my, my sisters just wrote, um, yeah, from Columbia. So
Orion Brown (51:37):
Columbia sister, is it Maria? Ali?
Allison Irby Vu (51:41):
It's Alina. Yeah. A muddy,
Orion Brown (51:45):
Hey girl, look at that. So look y'all she wasn't bluffing us. She got certified Columbian people. Like
Allison Irby Vu (51:54):
How much she loves me. She doesn't speak English and she's on here. Cause she saw that I was doing something and I have not told her I was doing this, but for her she was saying, [inaudible] like, it's, it's so wonderful to see you on this live. Like it's just to be able to, for her to see me is like, yeah,
Orion Brown (52:13):
It's beautiful. It's beautiful. I love that. And, and y'all so you've, you've got, you've got your assignment. She understood the assignment. Now, do you understand the assignment? Go out, dare to go out, meet people. Don't just take, what's comfortable with you, but find comfort in those spaces because you can meet some amazing people that will get up online and be like, I don't know what y'all saying, but you look good, look good. And I'm happy to see you like
Orion Brown (52:47):
People. So you guys, this has been so edifying for me. It's edifying for me every week. And I, I can't imagine not doing this, not just because of the wine. I did finish that. I ain't gone. You know, I didn't pour one out for the homies. I was like the homies. All right. They got some water. Um, but this was so edifying for me. And I think, you know, thank you so much, Allison, for being here with us, th this idea, like, I feel like I ate, I feel like I hung out with some people. I feel like I had those moments. And so you really brought that to life for us. And I really appreciate you for doing that. Where can people find you if want to see your exploits with your kid with anything, when you finally go back out to Columbia, when he finally got to South Africa, where can we find you? And can we be friends?
Allison Irby Vu (53:35):
I'm always trying to connect with new folks and build community. So yes, please do. Um, I'm on Instagram at Alison or BBU, just my name. And then also I have a website where I share some of my photography and stories from my travel, um, from all my travel journeys and just my life as a mom, trying to be as authentically me as I can and just live a beautiful life with my son. So if you're up for that, Alison Irby, vu.com and the same at Instagram, just my name. So I love it. X with folks who who've been, who are in your community and just broaden, broaden my community. Okay.
Orion Brown (54:14):
And that's it, you know, like, eh, Tulsa, I was surprised and I just bought a beautiful piece of art from Black Wall Street. Um, there's an artist woman there who makes these like very lifelike that she basically replicates photos and sort of an abstract art way. And the second I walked in, I was like, I don't know how much that is, but I'm taking it home. Um, well she shipped it cause I was like, uh, but the way Southwest is set up, I can't really take it. Um, so Tulsa is an amazing,
Allison Irby Vu (54:47):
So much happening here. And I mean, I never, in a million years would have thought I would move from DC here ever. Right. I would be much more likely to end up in Thailand or the bay or anywhere, but this is, this is home for us now. And I think there's so much room to build community here, fuller coming here in the program, I'm in the Tulsa remote program. So for folks who are remote workers,
Orion Brown (55:11):
It can cause unique. Got you got you. That's that's my girl on our team here at BlackTravelBox, but she actually makes sure that we have people for me to chat with and interview every week. Um, but it's so funny because even though, you know, Jenique and Jenique kind of like brought you in via that network, then we have other connections. It's just, oh, that's travel light.
Allison Irby Vu (55:34):
It's really that I've been in places, you know, and run into people who are friends with it's. It's crazy. When I lived in South Africa for a while. And I took my students scuba diving, and we were going out with our scuba group and this couple came with us and they were like, oh, we were from, um, not malicious, um, Malta. And I was like, oh, I know this is silly, but is kind of small. I have a friend that I used to live with in Columbia. That's named Neville. And they were like, oh, I have a cousin named Neville. And I was like, did he ever used to live in Columbia? And they were like, yeah, it was totally the same.
Orion Brown (56:10):
Melissa is small. But yes, also this is also to your point, why it pays to talk to people and to just kind of be solo. Cause when you, when you're not solo and it's totally okay to go on your girls trips and all this stuff is totally dope, vacations and all that. But when you're, when you're solo, you end up interacting with so many more people and the world becomes small and the best, best way in the best of ways, for sure. Yeah. To come back to Tulsa and or if we just meet in some other space, I love it. I love it. Janique and I got pancakes at, I can't think of the name of the place, but it used to be an old bank. It's like some fancy little spot downtown is it's a converted bank. Y'all forgot me ramble. And they had their plant life.
Orion Brown (56:57):
Their plants were better than the plants I had at home. I was telling the waiter, I was like, I'm mad. Your plants are happy because mine are at home coughing, coughing right now. Cause I have not, uh, watered them, but we will definitely get together. Thank you so much for coming. This was so fun. Thanks for having me. Thanks for popping so much fun. Yes. Come back. Anytime. I'd love to have you. I don't say that to everybody. So, um, and for everybody that watched, oh my God, you guys thank you so much for joining. I hope you got something out of it. If you just joined, you missed the beginning. It'll be at IETV shortly. I'm going to pop it in there and y'all, I mean, Columbia, that's where we need to go. We need to eat and we need to be, we need to embrace people like family. Like that's, that's the moral of the story and I'm so here for it. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for coming. I'm gonna let y'all go for tonight. I hope hopefully the rest of your week is, is every day is better than the day before. So be well, everyone take care. Bye Allison. Thank you.
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