Tara Mango enjoying sweet adventures
Revelling in the liberated feeling of experiencing new cultures, foods and languages, Tara Pouyat took her first solo trip at 16 years old to Costa Rica. Since then, Pouyat, who goes by the moniker Tara Mango, is excited to go on sweet adventures as a highly coveted content creator.
“I want to inspire others to get out there and see the world,” the enthusiastic globetrotter told The Sunday Gleaner.
With both parents originally from Kingston, her family visited the island every year from Toronto, Canada. “I got to experience what it was like to go to elementary school in Kingston one year.”
So strong was her connection to the island that she enrolled in elective courses at The University of the West Indies, Mona campus, in her early 20s and did her practicum at the Ministry of Health.
“It was around this time I got my Jamaican citizenship done, citizenship by descent, just in case I ever wanted to come back and live in Jamaica. It is something I still might do in the future,” she shared.
During her solo trip to Costa Rica, she stayed with a local family, volunteered at an elementary school, and also took Spanish lessons. “Experiencing a new culture, new food and learning a [new] language was so stimulating and fulfilling that it led me to fall in love with travel. I felt like my confidence grew on that trip. I could travel alone, adapt, meet new people, and enjoy myself so much, then I could do anything and go anywhere in life. For me that realisation was so empowering,” she explained.
Following her life-changing solo trip, the adventure seeker has travelled to 30 countries, 18 of which were solo trips.
“Colombia, Thailand, Morocco, Italy, and Belize are some of my favourite countries. Some of my best travel memories so far are making pizza on Pacaya, a volcano outside of Antigua, Guatemala; having breakfast in a hot-air balloon in Marrakech, in Morocco; swimming in a cenote in Tulum, Mexico; and going into a mud volcano in Cartegena, Colombia. But I also have fond memories of historic sites and monuments, such as the Eiffel Tower in France, Angkor Wat in Cambodia, the Taj Mahal in India, and Halong Bay in Vietnam — they all took my breath away,” Pouyat reminisced.
Seeing all 14 parishes of Jamaica, she enjoys exploring Portland, Negril in Westmoreland, and Treasure Beach in St Elizabeth. “I also love being up in the hills outside of Kingston, around Irish Town and Strawberry Hill. The views of Kingston and the Blue Mountains are amazing up there,” she revealed.
Pouyat shares all of these sweet findings on her blog and Instagram. This idea, which began back in 2021 with Instagram, came about as a means of educating others about hotel bookings and sharing things to do while in a specific country. “Now I can just refer them to my Instagram and blog,” she said, adding, “Getting direct messages from people I’ve never met on social media telling [me] that I was inspiring them to travel solo was incredibly fulfilling, and it really motivated me to keep sharing my travels.”
Blogging became the ultimate creative outlet to share her experiences with others. “I’ve loved meeting other creators through social media who share the same passion and travel with them in real life. People love when I feature unique bucket lists that they had never heard of before or a unique hotel that offers something interesting.”
It has also been great to collaborate with hotels and tourism boards for content creation. “I love the challenge of showcasing a place and using my creativity to do so! I started my travel blog taramango.com in early 2023 and recently started doing content creation for hotels.”
On her recent trip to the island, she worked with Kanopi House in Portland and Ocean Cliff Hotel in Negril.
“Every time I come back to Jamaica to visit, I feel like I’m ‘home’ again. It is comfortable, familiar and always fills my cup back up if I’ve been feeling burnt out. I need to feel the sun and island breeze, eat an escovitch fish with bammy, and swim in the sea, visit with family, and then I feel better again,” Pouyat shared.
Citing the cost as a barrier for many who dream of visiting other countries, she understands the struggle as a single mom and tries her best to save up for special trips. “People love seeing me travelling to a new country solo or with my son and tell me that it inspires them.”
So what are Tara Mango’s travel essentials? A travel pillow, packing cubes, portable charger for her iPhone, wireless noise-cancelling headphones, and a small first aid kit for basic medical needs.
Her advice to aspiring travellers is to get out of their comfort zone. “Find a local adventure or hidden gem to experience! Jamaica has endless opportunities for new adventures on the island. Research things to do in a parish you’ve never explored and make a plan to visit.”