Go Away With … Carlos Watson

By Jae-Ha Kim
Tribune Content Agency
September 5, 2017

“I live in sunny Mountain View, California — the best place on earth,” says Emmy Award-winning journalist Carlos Watson. “It’s home to Google, Linkedin, What’s App, 23 and Me and, of course, OZY!”

As the co-founder and CEO of OZY, Watson takes pride in producing programs such as “Third Rail with OZY.”

To stay in touch with Watson, check out his newsfeeds on Facebook and Twitter.

Q. When you go away, what are some of your must-have items?

A. Got to have a basketball in tow. Need a cellphone that works! And good people. That’s it.

Q. What city is the best for a game of pickup basketball?

A. It’s hard not to say New York. From Harlem to Chelsea and back, I have had some good games. They love trash-talking there. Overseas, I have had a lot of fun playing in Iceland, Ghana, the Netherlands, Colombia, Korea and more. I had a ferocious game, believe it or not, in Sweden one time.

Q. What is your favorite vacation destination?

A. I think I have visited 50-plus countries. The most beautiful city I have ever visited is Cape Town, South Africa. The most beautiful place is Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. But my list of favorite destinations probably also has to include Goa (India), Australia and Slovenia. It is hard to narrow the list. So many good places, so many good people!

Q. To someone who was going to Cape Town for the first time, what would you recommend that they do during their visit?

A. Definitely get out and see the beautiful landscape, grab some delicious food, listen to live music, dance the night away and meet new friends everywhere. There is a lot of history and indeed a lot of evolving history. Not all good to be sure, but definitely memorable. By the way, while Cape Town is special, mark me down as one of the folks that loves Jo-burg — Johannesburg — too!

Q. What untapped destination should people know about?

A. The nicest people on Earth are in Ghana. I first got a sense of that when I met Ghanaian immigrants in New York City. They were so friendly that I decided I had to go see where they were from. And sure enough, when my buddies and I got to Accra, the first thing that happened is that good people invited us to lunch and helped us get the lay of the land. Love Ghana! Check it out.

Q. What was the first trip you took as a child?

A. The first trip I remember was when we moved from Kalamazoo, Michigan, to Miami when I was about four. I was so excited. We drove in the car — a Rambler! My mom got those TripTiks from AAA. How is that for a throwback? My first overseas trip was to my father’s homeland of Jamaica. I loved the food, met lots of cousins, but could not find the cartoons I wanted and could not believe that when they said football, they meant soccer!

Q. What’s the most important thing you’ve learned from your travels?

A. I remember being in Rio years ago on a Friday afternoon and people were heading home for the weekend. I realized that probably few if any of those folks were thinking about many of the things that I thought were a big deal in my world — whether it was a certain American election, a certain American sporting event or a certain piece of American history. It does not mean that we don’t all share a lot of things in common. But it was a humble reminder that what is front and center for you may not be the same for everyone. So stay open — along with staying woke.

Q. Where are your favorite weekend getaways?

A. I love getting away to Napa or Monterey. So beautiful and relaxing. I wish I could get to San Diego a bit more, too.

Q. What are your favorite cities?

A. Tough one! In no particular order, Mountain View, (which is) as close as you can get to heaven; Goa; Sydney; Cape Town; Hong Kong. Tough to leave out New York!

Q. Where would you like to go that you have never been to before?

A. I am a curious sort and love to not just read about places, but experience them. And to that end, I feel like I need to see Russia and Nigeria to really broaden my perspective on the world. I also want to visit the countrysides of China and India. I have been to the big cities, but need to see the other half, as it were. And for fun, I would love to visit Croatia, Senegal and more.

Q. What are your favorite hotels?
A.  My favorite hotel in the world is the Upper House hotel in Hong Kong.  If I come back in another life as a hotelier, it is a good model for what I would love to develop.  I have also enjoyed a chain of B+B’s called the Four Sisters Inns.  And I found some cool spots when I was in Goa (India) and in Abu Dhabi.

Q. What are your favorite restaurants?
A. There are so many restaurants that I have loved over the years. Sumika and Bounty Hunter in California are winners.  Lots of good places in Hong Kong, Brazil and elsewhere.

Q. What kind of research do you do before you go away on a trip?
A. Interesting question. On one hand, I usually know a good bit about the place before I head there through friends, books, news reports over the years. … But, I tend not to do a ton of special research before I hit the road. I’ll typically browse OZY to see if we have done any cool profiles on the place or the people. And then I will read a travel guide as I am flying or when I arrive. Maybe Wikipedia too. But, in general, I let the people I meet be my guide.

Q. Have you traveled to a place that stood out so much that you felt compelled to incorporate it into your work?
A. Yes, lots of places. For example, I still remember the unique shades of color that I ran into in Brazil.  It opened my sense of style up even more.  And today I often say that OZY’s aesthetic is meant to be “Apple goes to Brazil!”  Indeed, I love Apple’s clean cool design. But, we need a little extra color and samba in what we do.

Q. Where is the most romantic destination?
A. When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie. … Italy.

Q. If you’ve ever gone away for the holidays, which was the best trip?
A. So many good choices! Recently, I got to go to Oaxaca, Mexico for the Christmas holiday and had a terrific time. What a cool, jewel of a place. Food, people, vibe — all were special.

© 2017 JAE-HA KIM

Comments (6)

  1. Tafline Laylin says:

  2. OZY says:

  3. Carlos Watson says:

Join the Discussion

Psssst! Your E-mail address will not be published.

Name *

E-mail *