Last updated on January 13th, 2021

For the fifth year in a row, I’m pleased to write about the year in review. 2020 was very rough and as I reflect on the blog-worthy happenings throughout the year, I am taking a minute to think about people who had a particularly tougher year. Those who lost friends and loved ones due to the pandemic and other causes; those who lost their sources of livelihood and to those who experienced a not-so-great year for other reasons, I truly hope that the coming year brings you an immense amount of joy and happiness and that you find the courage to seek these out.

Since 2016, I have written a yearly summary of my adventures on this blog. (See posts from 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019) and since then, it has become one of the writings I look forward to getting done the most.

I have to admit though, writing the recap for this year feels a little awkward considering the year we all had, yet I am choosing to keep this tradition. Because in a way, this yearly reviews motivate me and help put certain things into perspective.

Having said that, this would be a post I would not promote on my other platforms, so if you do stumble on it, thank you for being here. Your love for travel probably led you here and I hope that this inspires you to seek out new adventures and travel differently. Also, I really do hope the coming year will be better for you – and for us all.

The Year in Review 2020: Month-by-Month Adventures on Travel with a Pen

January

Mark and I welcomed 2020 in Holy Matrimony, surrounded by our friends and family. We had a pretty interesting courtship that led to Mark moving to Lagos sometime in 2018 where we both lived until later this year.

Our wedding weekend remains one of my fondest memories. Seeing everyone who travelled from far and near to celebrate with us, some visiting the continent and country for the first time, was heart warming. It was an absolute delight to welcome them.

February

In February, Mark’s brother gifted us a trip to Jara Beach Resort, an all-inclusive beach resort in Lagos. We spent 3 wonderful days at the property and I am just itching to go back!

Jara Beach Resort served as the perfect honeymoon destination for us. We nicknamed the trip ‘mini-honey’ but it actually turned out to be the ‘big-honey’ too. I loved our stay here and an all-inclusive resort in Lagos was something I didn’t know I wanted but absolutely needed! The food – which was delicious, unlimited drinks and snacks were the favourite parts of my stay.

I also got to take Mark on a short tour to Nike Art Gallery, on our way to Jara Beach Resort.

March – July

By March, the pandemic was in full swing and lockdown across the country had begun. I don’t think anyone foresaw that the restrictions would last as long as they have but 2020 was full of unpleasant surprises. Except for a 2 week stint where I had to go work at a client’s site, I have been working from home since March and to be honest, I completely enjoy doing so.

During the lockdown period, when business was slow, I decided to take to learning a new language. so I downloaded my Duolingo app again and dedicated myself to learning Swahili. I am still not fluent (not even at intermediate level) but I am not giving up yet. One of the things I’m most proud about this year was the level of consistency that I have kept in trying to learn this language. I plan to amp that up next year with the goal of fluency by year end.

Currently, I am almost at Day 300 studying on the app. This means I still have about 4 months to go in order to achieve my goal of fluency in a year. I plan to make the best use of this time. Until then, here’s a summary of this section in Swahili : Nilianza kujifunza kiswahili katika machi mwaka huu. Ninataka kusema vizuri mwishoni mwa mwaka ujao. ๐Ÿ™‚

August

After spending an extra 6 months in Lagos, in August, we were finally able to move to Nairobi. I have Fisayo A. and my managers to thank for making that happen when it did. We were able to get on a chartered flight and began the process of settling into our new life after quarantine.

Living in Nairobi has been wonderful so far even though I have had my share of homesickness and the Expat Blues. I know it’s only going to get better from here on now.

Next year, I plan to write more about what it’s like living in a new country. This is my first move and officially the longest time I’ve ever spent away from Nigeria, beating my former stint of 3 months in Egypt – which coincidentally, I may be returning to for work in the coming year. I’m excited about that and looking forward to it happening.

September

After spending a few weeks in quarantine, Mark and I took some time off work to explore Kenya in parts. Our first stop was the Masai Mara. We went on a 3 day budget safari from Nairobi and it was quite good. We were at the Masai River hoping to see the river crossing but that didn’t happen while we were there, so maybe, we may return in the next year. It also helps that we are residents now, so the entrance prices are more friendly to our pockets ๐Ÿ™‚

October

In October, we spent some time at the Kenyan Coast, visiting Watamu. It was such a wonderful trip that I spent almost all my time in the months that followed daydreaming about returning to the coast. My favourite part of this trip was the discovery of sandbanks and the ability to ‘swim’ in the ocean. I also thoroughly enjoyed eating out and living my Italian holiday fantasy here.

Watamu was fantastic and a much different (slower) vibe than Nairobi. I’m also happy that it is easily within reach via the Nairobi to Mombasa train. I’m certainly looking forward to returning in the coming year.

During the month of October, I also got to start exploring Nairobi more. My first stop was Paradise Lost in Kiambu County – where my picnicking in the city series began. We also visited the Nairobi Arboretum a couple of times and a few nice restaurants within the city.

October also marked the beginning of the End SARS protests in Nigeria. It was a particularly tough month for the Nigerian community, especially for those at home in the country. Somehow, when I think about my country in 2020, this is the image I see. Youths out protesting for their basic right to live and an unsympathetic Government and that image breaks my heart. I wonder what 2021 has in store for Nigeria…

November

In November, we continued to explore more of Nairobi, visiting the Nairobi Arboretum often, Karura Forest and the Giraffe Centre.

I also connected with friends from Nigeria who moved here and some who were visiting for shorter periods of time. It was lovely to be surrounded by ‘home’ for a minute.

December

Finally, in December, we kicked of the month with a hike with friends at the Ololosokuan Nature Trail. It was a lovely hiking experience and my chance to prove to Mark that I could hike for 2 hours straight without whining. Mark was the real MVP for that trip though. Many parts of the trail were difficult for Blue to climb and he hurled our little pup on his shoulders for a good part of the hike.

Our guide, Emmanuel, was also of great help. He helped us navigate the trail safely and carried Blue through the most complicated portions of the trail. If you do plan to visit this Nature Trail, his contact is linked in this post.

Picnics at the park were also a feature of our time in Nairobi in December. We have been spending time at the Nairobi Arboretum very often, since it’s the closest park to where we live and I’m getting more creative with our picnic layout and spread!

There are still 2 weeks left in December and while I don’t have any plans to go out exploring, I am open to the opportunities to do so. I will update this post if anything interesting happens between now and the end of the year.

2020 The Year in Review: Travel with a Pen in the Media

This year, I featured in a few media publications, including an interview with Andrew Boland, The Lavender Blog and a podcast with Black Women Travel. I also managed to put up 35 articles on this blog this year. This is officially my last post for the year.

Did I hear someone crying? Not to worry, new posts will be back from January 1st! In the meantime, feel free to catch up on any posts you might have missed in the past and come say hello on Instagram, if you’d like to connect with me there.

Thatโ€™s a wrap from Travel with a Pen for 2020! If you’re feeling up to it, please share your favourite moments from 2020 and something you’re grateful for. I would also love to hear all about your Christmas and New Year’s plans or (travel) plans for 2021.

I look forward to interacting more with you all in the coming year.

Never Stop Exploring!

16 Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing. I think itโ€™s worth it to acknowledge all of the good thatโ€™s intertwined with the bad. I really really enjoyed reading through the months and your adventures. A difficult year indeed but also one with many (positively) memorable moments. I hope the end of the year and the new year bring you even more enjoyable adventures.

    Iโ€™ve been on what will end as a 2 month trip to Nigeria. While it hasnโ€™t been the easiest thing re: keeping pandemic precautions, itโ€™s been so fulfilling, and Iโ€™m so grateful to be able to travel home for this long. Iโ€™m looking forward to heading to Ghana in the new year!!

    Stay Safe love, and looking forward to catching your first post of the new year in January. โค๏ธ

    • Thank you, Tiese, I hope you’re enjoying your time in Nigeria. 2 months? That’s a holiday! And a joy to be around family after such a tough year. Did you originally plan to stay that long?

      I wish you a most wonderful year and hope the rest of the year is filled with only good things for your and family.

  2. I love love stories. Congratulations to you and Mark. Love the highlights of the other months as well.

    Some of my best moments in 2020 are: worship meetings, I became a travel blogger, I started some other pursuits which I hope to share more on soon, I did some volunteer activities, I visited some amazing places etc.

    Looking forward to enjoying and exploring and connecting etc during Christmas.

    Looking forward to doing more of all of above in the new year and more and growth in various aspects of my life, more answered prayers ๐Ÿ™ etc.

    • Thanks for sharing Faith. I can’t believe you started blogging this year. Seems like you’ve been blogging for longer. Congratulations on starting your blog and all the other wonderful endeavors you got up to. Wishing you an even greater year in 2021.

  3. Thanks for your kind words.
    Wishing you a greater 2021 as well.

  4. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year in advance Amarachi! You had quite the adventurous year which traversed West and East Africa. Happy for ya on the picking up of a new language.

    Cheers to bigger dreams.

  5. Congratulations on getting married, what a beautiful way to start this crazy year. But then again, who new! Having a positive mental attitude is one of the ways to stay sane during the pandemic crises and I am glad to see you had an amazing year. So many beautiful photos and so many beautiful memories! Thanks for sharing. Wishing you a fun-filled holiday season and best wishes for a happy New Year! Aiva ๐Ÿ™‚ xxx

    • Thank you, Avia! It was certainly difficult to maintain a positive attitude in a year like the one we just had but a semblance of that was manageable. I wish a wonderful year ahead as well!

  6. This is such a heartwarming post!
    Thank you for sharing your life with us.
    And the pictures always leave such a wide grin on my face.

    2020 was indeed such a hard year for me. I lost 3 dear people in a short space of one month, experienced a really difficult heartbreak, fell into depression, started seeing a therapist, was struggling at work and with life generally.
    But in all of this, I always felt God’s comfort. I got into my dream school! Was always surrounded by loved ones who refused to give up on me, found an amazing church family (shout out to Celebration Church International).

    I spent my Christmas holiday in the South/East (Akwa- Ibom, Abia and Imo State) and I had a blast, the food, the people, the culture, the village life! It was such a struggle coming back to Lagos. I’m currently searching for an Igbo husband because I totally fell in love with Igbo Culture.

    I am looking forward to 2021 with all of my heart.

    Best wishes to you, Mark and Blue.
    This girl loves you all so dearly!

    • Wow, what a year. I’m sorry for the lows. Loosing a loved one or dear friend is hard, 3 in a space of a month, I cannot imagine the hurt. I’m praying for strength to go through these times for you and their families. Also happy to read about your highs as well! Congratulations on getting into your dream school and finding/nurturing a community where you feel welcomed and loved. Glad you got to spend Christmas in an uplifting environment and you visited my state too:) Igbo Amaka true true! We shall keep our eyes open for that Igbo hubby! haha. Thanks for being a huge part of my year in no small way. We all love and appreciate you and I wish you a wonderful 2021. It sure is starting out right!

  7. I really enjoyed reading this post. I know itโ€™s been a super tough year for so many people but itโ€™s nice to read some light hearted stories too! Some amazing shots in there as well, thanks for sharing.

  8. Hi, Amarachi! Visually this is a stunning post, photos are fabulous. For you this has certainly been a year to remember, with such milestones as getting married (Congratulations!!) and moving to another country. I think that relocating to Nairobi came as a real blessing in a year largely devoid of travel magic. Living in a new and unknown city with places to explore and discover all around you is as good as it gets in 2020. We were similarly luck to find ourselves in Cambodia at the start of the mayhem. I wish you all the best in the new year (admittedly, a belated wish) and looking forward to reading more of your writings.

    • Thank you, Leighton and I agree with you about in another country in the past year. Everyday and everything is an adventure. I am also looking forward to reading about your travels this year. Happy New Year too and best wishes! (I think you can still say this until the end of January :))

I love to hear from you!