Meet La Morena: Be Inspired with Nikki Ndukwe
Nikki has been a part of the LMDES movement long before her move to Galicia, Spain last fall. As an inspiring creative, we love keeping up with her everyday adventures and travels via social media. We got to sit down to hear more about her love affair with Spain, how she's been received by locals and why she recommends reaching out to others before taking the leap abroad!
Name: Nikki Ndukwe
Hometown: Houston, Texas
Current Location: Ourense, Galicia, Spain
Favorite Spanish Dish: Tigres
Morning Routine: Wake up, put on bossa nova, make coffee, read Skimm or check social media, get ready to go to work.
Tell us a little bit about your history with Spain and how you ended up moving here.
It's kind of long story, but in short, I can attribute my Spain obsession to my high school Spanish teacher, who really planted the seed. She had a unique way of teaching language through culture, and put a lot of the focus on Spanish culture. It was in those classes that I saw my first Spanish films, learned about the diversity that existed in the country, and tried different Spanish dishes. After graduating high school I hopped on a Madrid-bound plane with my Spanish teacher and 20 other students to watch the classroom come to life. This two week trip through Spain was my first experience with the country, and after that I fell in love with everything about Spain and traveling. Three years later I worked all summer long in a camp in a remote village in Catalunya. That summer and those experiences changed me, and was what made me want to live abroad for a longer period of time.
What are three words that define your experience in Spain so far?
Incredible, Reflective, Spontaneous
What is something that has surprised you the most since living here?
How quickly things become a routine or "normal". The initial excitement and nervousness of moving abroad is so overwhelming before and a little after you finally move. Then, you get use to your schedule, you settle down with your group of friends and pretty soon you realize how at home you feel.
Another thing that surprised me is how well most locals have received me. As a black woman who travels, we are well acquainted with people being shocked and startled by our glorious melanin, so I was prepared to experience a lot of stares and questions. But, the Galician people have mostly been kind, curious, and wonderful. I have learned a lot about their culture and I hope that they have learned from mine.
What advice would you give to someone who is looking to move abroad but doesn’t know where to start?
Don't stress! There is a wealth of information online and thanks to platforms like this one and Travel Noire, there are sites that cater to you, specifically. Blogs like LMDES and Gloria Atanmo's helped put me in contact with other black women who were already living here. I sent out so many messages to people, asked so many questions, and all of them were kind enough to respond and point me in the right direction. Facebook groups also answered a lot of my questions and helped guide me through the process.
What do you love the most about living in Galicia? What do you think it has to offer that some other parts of Spain might not?
I come from a city where nature consists of a bayou and a few parks, so I will never get over how naturally beautiful Galicia is. The most noticeable distinction is the terrain, a lot of Galicia is pretty green and hilly which makes for wonderful views and even hiking. Ourense also has natural hot springs throughout the city, which is an experience in itself.
The food here is delicious, and it's extremely affordable. Galicia is different being that the Gallegos have their own culture, history and their own language. You'll experience a very unique part of Spain with friendly, open people.
What’s on your bucket list for 2016? Where (in and out of Spain) would you like to visit?
Phew. My 2016 bucket list is to write more, shoot more, and live more — whether that be through travel, learning new languages and/or meeting more wonderful people.
As far as travel, I HAVE to make it to Portugal. Croatia because I've never been to Eastern Europe and I'm a sucker for beautiful coastlines.
Within Spain — I want to visit Murcia, Pais Vasco, and go back to Granada.
What has been one of your most memorable moments since moving here?
There have been so many! A Spanish friend invited my roommates and I to a Festa do viño (wine festival) in a small pueblo near Santiago. The festival was held on a beautiful wine country with 5 different bodegas, flowing Galician wine and pinchos at each bodega. There were several traditional Galician bands playing music, singing in Gallego and dancing all night long. (p.s. Galicians can get down!)
I remember feeling like experiences like those — winding up in far away places and meeting new people, is the reason why I travel, and the heart of why I love to explore.
Alright, your sense of style is on point. What’s the three most worn items in your closet at the moment?
Right now I'm all about minimalistic essentials that can be worn in any season. So, I would say my long, beige cardigan that can be worn with anything. I think I've worn that thing more than a million times.
I'm still wearing my black leather slip on vans, which also go with everything. I like the elevated tomboy style they give to outfits. I've also been obsessed with fitted cropped turtle necks because of the versatility! I have both long sleeve and sleeveless ones for when it starts to warm up. They're great because you can pair them with so many different bottoms, be it a skirt, high waisted jeans, or even flared culottes!
You’ve traveled quite a bit and you stay on the move. What have you learned about yourself through travel?
People talk so much about how travel changes you, and it definitely does, but for me that "change" isn't a one-time thing. So, I am still learning something about myself each day. I would like to think that with every trip and every experience I evolve more into the woman that I am suppose to be. Last year I had the privilege of traveling alone and I there is truly nothing like it, so I hope to do more solo travel this year.
Your IG is beautifully curated. Where do you find inspiration from?
I get inspiration from so many places! For example, things that I may see that catch my eye while walking through the old town here in Ourense. Or, finding the beauty in the simplicity of a daily routine. I also, of course get inspiration from some of my favorite photographers and creatives on the gram!
Describe what a perfect day in Spain looks like for you.
My perfect day would be one with a balance of personal time and social time. It could include sleeping in, coffee and reading with the windows open. Natural lighting really elevates my mood. Then, I'd go hiking up to the Botanical Gardens for some exercise, fresh air and alone time. Afterwards, I'd either make lunch or meet friends for a menu del día or pinchos and drinks at night! I try to create balance to keep myself sane.
Do you have any wise words for those who are looking to move abroad but might be afraid to do so?
The experiences and the things you learn about both yourself and the world are invaluable. It may be scary, difficult, and you maybe even be doubting your decision, but is truly worth it — if it something you want. Live your truth.
This interview was conducted by Sienna Brown. Sienna Brown is the founder of Las Morenas de España. From New York to Murcia, Spain, she is constantly on a journey to inspire and be inspired while engaging in different methods of creation. Her passion for learning about others leads her towards constant exploration and practicing the art of listening as much as she can. See more of her work here and follow her adventures on instagram.