In February we feature our amazing member, Mara Mandera, who loves to join in on so many of our activities, when not travelling between her homes in Brussels and in Capetown, South Africa.
Mara, you grew up in Kingston, Jamaica, but your life has taken you around the world – with your home-base here in Brussels since 2006, and a home-base in Cape Town, South Africa, where we are speaking with you now. When growing up in Jamaica, did you ever imagine a life of travel? How did it all come about?
Well, I was very lucky to meet my German husband in Kingston in 2001, when he was assigned as Ambassador-Head of the EU Delegation to Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, Belize, the Bahamas, Turks & Caicos. We were both members of a walking-running club, exploring the beautiful countryside outside Kingston and – as they say – the rest is history! At the time I was working in the customer service department of a financial institution in Kingston. We married in 2005 and moved permanently to Brussels upon retirement in December 2006.
Since then, has travel been a part of your lives?
Yes, we especially enjoy seeing family in Germany, hiking there and in France, and also the Christmas Markets - even the snow, which I didn’t experience in Jamaica! With ‘One World’ trips around- the-world, we’ve been to New Zealand, Chile, Asia, and elsewhere.
In Cape Town, we live near a wine region, surrounded by beautiful landscape – I am always amazed at how sincere and welcoming South Africans are.
Every two years I used to travel to Jamaica to see my mother and sister - although I travel less now since Covid arrived. I also enjoyed time in the U.S. - in the Grand Canyon, New Orleans, Las Vegas, and in New York where my aunt lives.
You are especially appreciative of being a member of the AWCB?
Yes, members were very welcoming when I first joined the Club. Now, as friends, they always show the American spirit of warmth, openness and community, so I feel very much at home. I also participated in activities in the house – and I continue to value Zoom, here in Cape Town, until we return to Brussels!
How have you coped with Covid-times?
We both love to cook. I will admit that finding some Jamaican ingredients is a challenge.
What do you love about Brussels?
I love the green outdoors in Brussels and the food. We especially appreciate spending time with Gerd’s daughter and two grandchildren in Brussels, and his son in Paris, who is a translator at the European Space Agency. Life is good and we take advantage of being as positive as possible.
We enjoyed speaking with Mara. If you would like us to tell your story, contact us.