Megalyn Echikunwoke lives in Venice Beach, Calif. -- a long way from the Navajo reservation in Chinle, Ariz., where she grew up. "There really is nothing like it," says the actress, whose resume includes TV roles on "House of Lies," "24" and "CSI: Miami." She'll appear next in the feature film "Damsels in Distress." One of the things she loves about her job is getting to explore the world. "I've been lucky to usually have downtime whenever I travel for work," says Echikunwoke, whose father is Nigerian. "I make it my job to find the best, most interesting locals only-type things the city has to offer."
Q. What is your favorite vacation destination?
A. One of my favorite places I've visited is Havana, Cuba. On my way home from Costa Rica, I did a week in Havana. The colors, the music, the beautiful men and the cars! I love vintage and antique cars and own a couple myself. Also, I love Latin dance and everyone there knows how to dance salsa extremely well. It's practically in their DNA. It's also a very safe place to travel, even for a solo woman. You are totally fine strolling the Malecon at night. Also, in La Habana Vieja, most of the buildings are still intact with their original moldings and architecture and beautifully distressed in a way that looks deliberate. I really hope I get a chance to go for a longer stay to experience the rest of the country.
Q. To someone who was going there for the first time, what would you recommend that they do during their visit?
A. Go see the Ballet Nacional de Cuba (http://www.balletcuba.cult.cu/), have mojitos at the Hotel Nacional de Cuba (http://www.hotelnacionaldecuba.com/en/home.asp) and a drink at El Floridita (http://www.elfloridita.net/pages/hemingway.php?language(EQUALSIGN)en), where Ernest Hemingway enjoyed visiting.
Q. How much do you remember of your childhood trip to Nigeria?
A. It was the first time meeting my dad's family for my mom and my siblings and me. I remember being terrified by the masqueraders during a street festival. Masqueraders are masked spirits who come out at celebratory times to entertain, tease and chastise citizens for their naughty behavior. It is an important form of traditional cultural expression for many different tribes. I also remember the mosquitoes. My mom always tells the story of how I was munched from head to toe through my clothes and looked like a little brown puffed marshmallow.
Q. Where are your favorite weekend getaways?
A. California has so much to offer for fun and relaxation. One of the places I love is Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort (http://www.sycamoresprings.com/) in San Luis Obispo. You can tap the mineral springs straight from the mountain right to the outdoor hot tub in your hotel room. It's really quite special and therapeutic. And after you soak for a bit, you can go out wine tasting at the great vineyard within a few miles of the place.
Q. What are your favorite hotels?
(c) 2012 DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.