In Swahili, there is a saying that goes, “Kuishi kwingi ni kuona mengi” which roughly translates to when you live in many places, you see and experience many things as well. Well, Eva has travelled, man has she travelled. Having been to close to 100 countries, Eva has experienced the world in more eyes than most. She lives her life by two basic philosophies – carpe diem and YOLO, trying as many things as she can lay her hands on.
Most people describe her as witty and full of energy. She gives us her perspective on life, travel blogging and her vision for the future.
When and how did you get into blogging?
I first started blogging in 2009 up until 2014 but on the working remotely as a freelancer niche. I then stopped due to work and family demands. In 2017 I registered the www.evamtalii.com domain name but only started blogging in 2018. At the time I had just lost my job and was looking into having positive experiences to reminisce this period. As someone who had actively been travelling the world since 2002, I had terabytes and terabytes of pictures and loads of stories to share from my travels and tons of questions and advise from different people. I, therefore, decided to use this time to organize my pictures, tell my travel stories, and answer the frequently asked travel-related questions. And that’s how EvaMtalii was born.
At the time when I started documenting my travels, Kenyans were characteristically missing in the international travel discourse. For whatever reason, Kenyans are not part of the wider global mainstream travel narrative either. Not sure whether it’s because they weren’t travelling or that they were travelling but just not documenting it.
Furthermore, a cursory glance at our local mainstream media revealed a more depressing situation. Instead, the typical tourist, even in our local establishments, was almost always depicted as a blonde mzungu. Whenever there was a black Kenyan, there was almost always an old white sponsor.
Hence the burden I felt in my heart to start documenting my travels to increasing the Kenyan globetrotter’s presence in mainstream travel narrative as a first step towards helping to perpetuate and propel the accurate narrative: that Kenyan citizens, and people of color in general, too, do visit exotic locations for LEGAL REASONS such as leisure, relaxation and fun.
This beautiful world belongs to us all.
What is the inspiration behind your blogging? (Why that niche?)
The mission of the EvaMtalii brand is to inspire Kenyans to think outside the box when it comes to traveling for leisure. I’m mostly out to de-mystify global travel especially for Kenyan passport holders and so-called “third-world country “passport holders and show them that you don’t have to be rich or attached to the hip to a rich mzungu to travel. With careful planning, savings, and hustling here and there, we can achieve our travel dreams.
I’m sick of hearing that you need connections to get visas or to be attached to some old mzungu or a ka sponsor to see the world. I want to change the way Kenyans think about leisure travel. And to constantly remind my people that you only live once but if you live well, once is enough.
Throughout the blog, I share tips, hacks, and guides on to how travel with your world famous ‘shit hole’ aka ‘powerless’ Kenyan passport and how to make money to afford the travel lifestyle.
What is your blogging experience thus far?
My blogging experience thus far has been quite rewarding and enriching. My heart melts every time I get a “Thank you. You saved me” e-mail or DM
What’s the best and worst thing that has come out from your blogging journey so far?
When I started my blogging journey, it was mostly just to document my travels and answer FAQs. Over time, EvaMtalii has evolved into a household brand name and is now even recognized by other brands. I have been blessed and fortunate on several occasions to get fully paid for trips, sponsored travel and compensated tours thanks to the blog.
I have also spun the blog into the EvaMtalii YouTube channel that got monetized early this year, and EvaMtalii Instagram account. I am not yet where I would want to be but in terms of the living off the blog but it currently pays its bills like web hosting, domain names, and my time in creating content.
Where do you see your blog in 5 years?
I see the blog hitting at least 500,000 visitors a month and 100% paying all my bills. I am an ardent believer in manifestation hence why I’m very generous with my vision for the blog.
Which Kenyan blogger/s do you admire or look up to?
I admire that Just Rioba, an African, is telling the African story
Apart from blogging, what else do you do? (Like a day job)
I have about 6 different side hustles and I also currently work in the field of trade for development
What’s the best place you’ve ever visited?
When you’ve been to about 100 countries, it’s tough having a single answer for this. But different places are high on my list for different things:
- Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – best partying (may be coz I was visiting during carnival)
- Cuba – hands down the best combination of authentic culture, beach, food, drink, and night life. I last visited in 2014 before the US sanctions were lifted so not sure if it still counts.
- Croatia – best fish, nature and history
- Jamaica – best night life
- Rwanda – order and perfection
- Switzerland – best transport system (everything just functions to precision) and for the free drinking water fountains
- Kenya – best memes and best drama. There’s never a dull moment in this country. I don’t remember waking up to more drama in any other country than here. And take this from someone who doesn’t watch TV so I’m not even privy to it all.
What do you do for fun?
I am a low-key snob, so I love to spend time in my own company either traveling, writing, or strutting contemporary tunes on my violin.
Random fun question: If you could only choose one song to play every time you walked into a room for the rest of your life, what would it be?
That will have to be Air in D Major, BWV 1068 from orchestral suite #3 by J.S. Bach