It has been a long while since I wrote a blog, but I am back and I am currently in Senegal! Earlier this year, I talked about the trip I took to Fuerteventura and shortly after, I actually visited Madeira too. In this blog I want to share a whole lot about my latest trip to Senegal, but mostly: what I have done so far. The last time I went to Senegal was in 2019, so it was about time I come back. Not only to see family and (new) friends, but also for my creative spirit. During the pandemic, I have been a lot more creative and been inspired by so many creatives in the Netherlands. Therefore, this trip to Senegal is supposed to be a source of inspiration, connection and some sort of homecoming. Before we get into what I have done so far, I created this mini-travel guide! There are many more pictures of what I have done so far here in Dakar. You can also download the mini-travel guide at the end of this blog. Let’s go!
I have been to Senegal many, many times and during the pandemic, I was able to grow a lot as a creative. Therefore, I was able to be more goal-oriented about this trip to Senegal. Right before I left the Netherlands, I was doing a lot more photography, which I often forget is my first (creative) love. I am growing as a freelance photographer and being in Senegal is really good for my photography. My main goal for this trip is to create a lot of content, but it should stay fun. In addition, I want to get inspired for my next Wolof class and work on a travel guide. Next, I have so far been able to exploit the many (new) online friendships and connections I have established.
Settling into life in Dakar
Even though I thought it would be easier, because I have done this before, I finally settled into Dakar. What made it easier were the different events I was eager to attend. For example, the different expo’s surrounding the Dakar Biennale 2022 and local events. Another thing that made it easy was that I visited family, went out with Youma and met up with plenty of people. All while taking my camera(s) with me!
Biennale Dakar 2022
Of course, leading up to my trip, I was super inspired about all the things that were happening in Dakar such as the Dakar Biennale. Once I was in Dakar, I was actually super overwhelmed, first by the heat and next navigating the Biennale. I’m sure there was an easier way to navigate the Biennale, but eventually I went to Ancien Palais de Justice and the Museum of Black Civilisations. I personally closed off the Biennale with an event at the Dutch embassy in Dakar!
Something else that made it easier for me to settle into Dakar, was being able to attend enough events. Not only did I attend some of them alone, I even was comfortable enough to take pictures during the whole event. The first event I attended was the Njogonal, organized by Little Things Dakar. This one was great, because the first edition was held in February and I had fomo all the way from the Netherlands! Next, I attended an expo by Mamy Tall that was part of the Biennale called Doxantu. I will share some additional pictures in the downloadable pdf below.
One of the exciting things I did was go to Podor with my sister and he husband! It was actually the first time I vlogged the journey from Dakar to Podor, so definitely check that one out. We didn’t stay long in Podor, but let me tell you that it was way hotter than Dakar (40+ degrees). Other than that, it was great to see my family and friends in Podor. Also, we didn’t stay long, because we had A WEDDING!
Yes, this time the youngest brother of my sister’s husband was the lucky groom. If you know me, you know I love a good Senegalese wedding, especially when it’s family getting married. I really hope I’d get to more weddings during this trip so I can take some pictures too. You can watch the wedding vlog if you’ve missed it! Besides a wedding, we also celebrated Tabaski early July, which means I ate Méchoui!!
Another thing that made settling into Dakar so easy, is feeling at home at Youma’s house. Her family is so welcome and they really take good care of me. In addition, I have also made new friends! One of them is Marie, whom you can see in some of my videos. She actually commented on one of my video’s and emailed me if I was still in Dakar. We met the same day and have been talking ever since too. She is now on the other side of the world, living her best life and I LOVE IT! We will definitely have plenty adventures together in the future.
Traveling throughout Senegal
After settling into Senegal, I decided that it was time to get inspiration. I’ll explain: my friend Cynthia from House of Notoire, has asked me to co-host a retreat to Senegal in November. There are still spots left, if you’re interested! I’m super excited, but I haven’t ever organized anything like that, let alone in Senegal. Other than that, one of my goals was to explore further than the usual Dakar and Podor. What better way to get a little bit of both than to actually sign up for group trips and exploring the country?!
The first trip I went to was to the wildlife resort Bandia that’s located right outside of Dakar. This was a day trip and we left Dakar around 9am and we’d be back around 6pm. We would first go to Bandia for a safari trip around the resort and then go to a hotel for a chill day by the pool after lunch. Not only can you already watch this vlog, but you can also watch my instagram story highlight for Bandia too! It was amazing to see all the beautiful animals, especially the giraffes!
The next trip was with the same company, SunuTrip, and this time we went to Sine Saloum. This trip was actually a weekend away. We left early Saturday morning and came back Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately, it rained most of the time. This did get in between our activities, but we still had fun! During this trip, I was able to use my drone and I took some amazing video and pictures from the sky. You can watch the vlog, but you can also watch my story highlight on Instagram.
My most recent group trip was to Lac Rose or Lake Retba. This time I went with Green Parcours, just because me and my new-found friend (whom I met on the Bandia trip) wanted to visit the lake so badly. We went on a Saturday morning and came back around dinner time. Unfortunately, the lake wasn’t pink, but I’ll try to go back when it’s pink again. Other than that, we drove on quads in the dunes, had a boat tour on the lake and had time to go ride on camels, horses or get into the pool.
Then, I had this rare opportunity to join Youma and her company on a trip to Saly. Of course, I went! This trip was a bit longer than a weekend trip. We left Dakar early Tuesday morning and we left friday in the afternoon. Saly was amazing, I was able to swim in the sea, have some time off work (I didn’t bring my laptop) and I got time to connect with other people too. And I had plenty of time to use my drone, while the others were at work, lol!
A creative in Senegal
Being a creative in general is hard, but being a creative in Senegal is harder, I think. Most of the work you get as a creative is through people you know. That’s how “Your network is your net worth” makes all the sense. Because it’s true! For example, someone I met at the Njogonal event, asked me later to take pictures of her appartment, because she wants to rent it out! What’s helpful is that I am not shy (anymore) and have been really comfortable to tell people that I am a photographer and available. In addition, I am also prepared. I have an actual portfolio for event photography and I have more than enough business cards with me. Let me know if you want to see my portfolio or want a business card!
Creatives need to speak up
A couple years ago, I started this #MotivationMonday series on YouTube. One of the quotes I used was “If you don’t speak up, how is the world supposed to know you exist“. What I have noticed is that sometimes, we want certain opportunities and we may get discouraged if we aren’t considered. However, at the same time, there is no way for us to have been considered because the people dont know we exist! That’s why it is so important for creatives to speak up. Speak up about what they do, want and need.
What I have also learned is that people actually love to hear about the things you do, especially if it’s your passion. During the pandemic, I have been talking to so many of my colleagues about what I do other than work and it made me realize that people are genuinely interested in others. So, don’t be afraid to share your passions, dreams and aspirations. You never know who you are talking to and who that person could connect you to!
A whole photographer
With that said, I am a Photographer! That is besides being a Content Creator, Interpreter and Senegal-expert. Most of the photography I have done so far were on my own volition. I attended events, took pictures and posted them on social media. Some people have reached out and asked me for my photos and the feedback has been amazing! Other than that, I have been reaching out to a couple of people in tourism in Senegal for partnerships. Unfortunately, everything moves too slow on this side of the world. However, like we say in Dutch: aanhouder wint! (the persevering person always wins). I think that is more than true.
I think that it’s very important to step outside your comfort zone in order grow as a person. That’s why I have decided at times to step out the door with my camera with the sole purpose of taking pictures. One thing that got me was impromptu photoshoots! One time I was just walking in the supermarket and saw a group of students taking pictures and a girl asked me to take some pictures of her. I also think that if you are open for it, being vulnerable about what you do and letting people into your creative space, they are much more willing to participate. I definitely want to experience many more impromptu photoshoots, so I will definitely do that more often!
Remember I mentioned someone at the Njogonal event reaching out for a photography gig? At first, I was skeptical. However, I usually love a challenge and was on board. I did my research into basic interior photography. Honestly, I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to be creative. However, the appartment was so beautifully decorated that I really felt comfortable to show my creativity too. Let me know what you think!
Having a drone
Another thing I love about being a creative, is using my drone! In an earlier post, I shared why and when I bought my drone. Now that I have used the drone a couple of times, I notice that it gets easier every time. Addtionally, I am also more aware of what kind of shots I want to create and most imporantly: how to create them. Another thing I have learned (the hard way) is that Senegal is hard on authorization for photography and drones. Yes, I almost got arrested for flying my drone at a monument. I may (or may not) share the details one day. Definitely enjoy some more of my finest drone shots in the mini travel-guide!
Now that I have talked about all the things I have done in Senegal, I think the big question is now: What next? With all the events, social activities, family visits and local traveling, Dakar keeps me busy! Although, I have two months left, let me share a little about what I want to do next.
Creating unique content & drawing inspiration
Creating content and drawing inspiration from Senegal for future art and projects is what I’ll continue to do. I will also have to continue to edit the vlogs from my adventures, which is why I will be much more active on YouTube than on the website. Other than that, I will continue to photograph, film and connect to companies and collaborate with local creatives.
Preparing for the House of Notoire retreat to Senegal
Last, but certainly not least: I am co-hosting a retreat to Senegal in November with House of Notoire! Which means I need to do the necessary preparations in order to co-host a great retreat. The retreat will take place this fall from November 9-15. The idea is to show Senegal to a small group of around 6-8 young, professional women. This retreat is supposed to be inspiring, adventurous, but also increase self-development. House of Notoire is hosting a bunch of retreats this year, so definitely check that out. You can ask all the questions about the retreat to Senegal. All I can say is that it will be dope and I’m super excited for November!
Another Wolof class
While in Senegal, it is very hard to avoid Wolof. Therefore, I am unconsciously also improving my Wolof, learning new words and phrases, which I love! I have thought a lot about creating a more extensive Wolof class next. However, I have found it hard to actually start. I have a whole outline for it, and I want it to be a virtual trip to Senegal, which brings me to another dream of mine: a travel guide!
A travel guide for Senegal
As I am marketing myself as a Senegal-expert, I think it wouldbe dope to create a travel guide for Senegal. Not just a guide with spots to visit, but also some inside information about how to get around. So, you want to know about the ways you can travel from the airport to your airbnb in Dakar? In my travel guide, I’d tell you about all the ways you could get to Dakar from the airport. Instead of only highlighting popular places to eat and do activities, I’d focus more on moving through Dakar and traveling outside of the capital. Ideally, I’d also love to include basic Wolof to get around while traveling Senegal.
As you can see, I have definitely been out and about here in Dakar. I’m sure I forgot about a couple of things too, but definitely check out my playlist of the things I have documented so far.
If you are in Senegal, don’t hesitate to reach out. Especially when you have questions. That’s how I became best friends with Marie! Definitely enjoy all the vlogs, pictures reels and instagram stories! If you have any Senegal-related questions or are interested in the upcoming retreat, let me know too and enjoy the mini-travel guide!