Travel is about more than just a quick break from the boredom of everyday life. It’s often about stepping outside of the “norm” and immersing yourself in a world completely different from your own. It’s about learning, growing and blazing a path of change along the way. Bayyina Black considers herself a child of the world and lives life traveling from country to country becoming one with her environment, giving back to the community around her and capturing the journey on film for her company Planet Blaster Productions. Bayyina proves home is not just where the bills are paid…but wherever your heart is.
So, when did you first fall in love with travel?
Bayyina Black: I first fell in love with traveling when I was a small child. I’ve been traveling my whole life but I don’t think I started to really appreciate traveling until I was in grade school. My teachers would assign us to write about what we did on the weekends or during holiday breaks and I always ended up writing much more than what was required and wowing my teachers and classmates with my adventures. I fell in love with international traveling after I received my first visa and passport stamp from Ghana. I was hooked and was determined to fill up all the pages in my passport.
What inspired you to travel to Brazil?
BB: I studied abroad in Brazil three years ago and I always knew I would come back. It’s like home and the only country that I’ve spent longer than a week in. My birthday was at the end of April and I figured it was finally time to go back, I have a pretty decent network here in Salvador and professionally it was the best decision for me.
How do you deal with racial, cultural and/or language barriers and differences?
BB: Listen, Brazil is great and all, but I am not going to sugarcoat the fact that there aren’t a lot of people here in Salvador that speak English. When I came the first time I was ready to go back home because my host family didn’t understand me and vise versa. It was really frustrating! I dealt with it by remembering that this was a great opportunity I had been afforded and needed to just suck it up and work harder at learning Portuguese. I had to get creative and become a one-woman theater show by acting out what I was trying to convey. My host mom would laugh at me but guess what, it worked!
Has there a defining moment in Brazil that you’ll never forget? What lessons did you learn?
BB: My first time in Brazil, I’ll never forget going to an IlêAiyé carnival practice. IlêAiyé is the first Afro-Brazilian block to perform in Salvador carnival in 1975. It was one of the most amazing nights of my life. There were so many beautiful shades of brown in one room that I couldn’t contain my excitement. I learned that night what a melting pot was and where it was, right here in Salvador. To dance and laugh endlessly was amazing. That night I really loved the skin I was in.
How has travel shaped your life and view of the world?
BB: Traveling has really taken over my life, seriously. I knew it was important to me but I didn’t realize how much until I went to London and could only spend four days there because of work. I thought to myself, “This is crazy! Who LIVES like this?” My mom would tell me that normal people take vacations only a few times a year, if that. I told her, “Well you didn’t raise me to be a normal person!” Since I have been traveling I have a more global view of the world and have seen how essential it is to be a global citizen. Think globally, act locally is my motto! In terms of work, if I am not able to just get up and go and work remotely, I just can’t do it for more than two months.
What experiences do you seek out when you travel?
BB: I am a traveler not a tourist so I travel expat style! I’m always trying to “live” everywhere I go and seek to experience the authentic elements that really make the country unique. I love to learn how to make a local drink or dish. As an international consultant I pay a lot of attention to the consumer and how people live their day-to-day lives. Overall I yearn for life-changing, unforgettable, makes you love life experiences. Anything less is just wack!
What five countries are on your travel bucket list?
BB: Cuba, India, Bali, Trinidad, and Kenya.
What advice would you give to someone looking to travel, but feel they are being held back by finances, jobs, children, age, fear, etc?
BB: Book a ticket and GO! I understand having reservations about traveling but you cannot put a price tag on the experiences you will have. I never wanted to be a “woulda-coulda-shoulda” person and neither should anyone else. Read The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss and any reservations you have will go right out the window. At the end of the day it’s your life and you only live once, so live your life (in my Rihanna voice)!
Three words to describe why people should travel?
BB: Freedom. Priceless. Culture.