You may or may not have noticed, but I’ve been somewhat ghost for several months. While I've continuously shared the travel stories and experiences of others, I chose to take a back seat and remain in the shadows. Adulting took on new levels of intensity with life kicking my butt and serving up lemon after lemon after lemon. But not unlike Queen Bey, I chose to make lemonade with my lemons. Instead of cowering in the face of life's constant curveballs, I chose to instead work harder and quietly behind the scenes. I was preparing to do the one thing that had both terrified and endlessly driven me for the past few years. I was planning to take the leap and move back to Africa.
It's now been forty-eight hours since I arrived in Dakar, Senegal. Forty-eight glorious hours filled with connecting with incredibly talented creatives, drinking Bissap and eating my weight in Thieboudienne since I left my old life back in Atlanta - a life I had been desperately trying to break free from for years. Even with all the hard work I'd put in, it still didn’t feel real. Not when I emptied ten years worth of memories from my house to move in with a childhood friend. Not when I gave notice, then quit my corporate day job after living a double life for the past two years. Not even when I sold my car and pretty much everything else I owned. Maybe it’s because I was still existing in a fear filled fog, too scared to dare risk jinxing my plans by truly believing my move was real. But as I packed up my entire life into two and a half suitcases a few hours before my flight (yeah, yeah I know – I’m terrible), it finally hit me. The idea I had been willing, wishing and working vigorously towards for the past few years and dream that inspired the creation of this website (hence the name Spirited Pursuit) was actually happening. Finally.
And if it didn’t feel real before, it definitely felt real after I landed in Dakar at 5am on Saturday morning speaking no Wolof and my limited French.
Go big or go home, amirite?
Why Africa? Why Start in Senegal?
Have you ever seen the maps most travel bloggers use on their websites to show all the countries they've traveled to? I have, and I noticed something very interesting. Europe, Southeast Asia, and South America are typically well plotted on these maps, but they never seem to include Africa...why? Fear and anxiety caused by a lack of information and resources is my guess. And for the few that visit, it's almost always for missionary work, safari, or to Morocco and South Africa. But there's just so much more! Africa is in dire need of rebranding; to be captured and documented through inspired eyes and to be displayed on a pedestal with great pride. I knew I wanted to be part of that rebrand, even though Spirited Pursuit showcases the beauty of countries and cultures worldwide. Because Africa needs Africans to tell the world her story. To experience her endless travel opportunities firsthand, to capture her diverse beauty, and to create content that inspires and enables others to come experience it all for themselves.
I’m originally from Cameroon, so going there first would have been the obvious choice. My parents are there, my childhood memories are there, my culture is there. But so is my comfort zone. I chose Senegal out of sheer curiosity and to push myself. The country drew me in as I learned more and more of it's bursting creative energy filled with varied landscapes, art, and a melting pot of cultures. And then there was the infamous Teranga, meaning hospitality in the local language of Wolof. How could I not be drawn to a country infamously known for their warmth and generosity?
What Will I Do? How Will I Make Money?
This journey is both a personal and professional one for me. Personally I hope to reconnect with my home, my people, my customs. I want to challenge myself to explore as many countries within Africa as possible, and to educate myself on the history of the people and cultures that exist within them. Professionally I hope to evolve and grow Spirited Pursuit to share more guides, resources, and tools for travelers interested in having similar experiences. How will I make money? This question is not as easy to answer. I’ll freelance my way through the continent, partnering with local travel companies, airlines, tourism boards, hotels, and publishers to help keep the lights on and consistently produce quality content to keep you inspired and informed. I don't have it all figured out, so my focus is to simply do. Everything else, I'll leave to the universe.
Earlier this year I read Shonda Rhimes’ Year of Yes, and was left both inspired and moved to action by the simplest of concepts: “A lot of people dream. And while they are busy dreaming, the really happy people, the really successful people, the really interesting, engaged, powerful people, are busy doing. The dreamers. They stare at the sky and they make plans and they hope and they talk about it endlessly. Dreams are lovely. But they are just dreams. Fleeting, ephemeral, pretty. But dreams do not come true just because you dream them. It's hard work that makes things happen. It's hard work that creates change. So, Lesson One, I guess is: Ditch the dream and be a doer, not a dreamer."
Don’t be afraid to take life by the horns, seek meaningful experiences, and expose yourself to all of the richness that exists within the world. If you’re waiting for a sign, this is it.
Become a doer - take the leap.
Did my leap of faith inspire you? To learn how to plan a trip like mine and travel off the beaten path in Senegal and Africa as a whole, shop my guides by clicking the button below.