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When I hear the word “Senegal”, I automatically thing of beaches, braids, and the motherland. I recently had the opportunity to visit Dakar, Senegal, for two weeks. After experiencing new people, places, and perspective, it is definitely a destination MUST when visiting West Africa. Not only is it full of beaches, but it is full of rich culture, color, and history. I’ve visited Senegal twice as little girl, but never truly experienced it for myself as a young adult. This time, I was able to appreciate every moment with deep understanding.

1. NGOR BEACH and NGOR ISLAND

Make sure to get a gorgeous tan and meet new people while laying on Plage Ngor (Ngor Beach). If you want a luxurious private escape, you can take a 7 min boat ride across the water to Ngor Island and lay under your own cabana.

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Swimsuit from http://www.blingostyle.com/

2. PARC FORESTIER ET ZOOLOGIQUE DE HANN

Visiting the zoo is always fun, but I promise you that you haven’t seen a zoo like this before. Most zoo’s don’t allow animals to rome in large spaces, but this zoo is actually based in the national park where the animals have a lot of freedom and space. This large atmosphere allows the animals to feel as if they are in their natural habitat. After the zoo, take a 15 min boat ride on the park’s lake. You can enjoy a drink and see beautiful ducks, birds, and swans.

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3. ATV IN THE SAND DUNES

If you love adventure, you don’t want to miss out on the sand dunes. Dakar is known for their excursions and ATV rides that will lead you to paradise. When you get deeper into the san dunes, it will lead you to the water. Once you reach the water, hop off your bike and take in the waves because it is definitely a site to see.

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4. HOP ON A CAMEL 

If you want a more quiet excursion, take a camel ride. Camel rides allows you to take in your surroundings and reflect. Plus, not everyday you get to ride a camel.

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5. GOREE ISLAND 

Goree Island is a 20 minute boat ride away from Dakar and there is boat ride fee and a fee to spend the day on the island. If you like vibrant colors this is definitely a place to visit. Goree Island is home to the House of Slaves Museum which which was the final exit point for slaves from Africa. It is very emotional and overwhelming so make sure you are ready. If you have time walk up to the top of the volcano and see the 360 view of Dakar.

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Pants by @Shahedah_textiles

6. THE AFRICAN RENAISSANCE MONUMENT 

This gorgeous statue stands tall at 49 meters (160 feet) and is made out of pure bronze. It is definitely a little hike to get to the top, but the pictures are worth it. If you really want to see an amazing view, continue your climb to the top of the males crown to see a spectacular view.

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7. HAVE CONVERSATION & MEET NEW PEOPLE

I am definitely a person who loves to converse and meet new people, no matter where I am. I am a true believer in Black Girl Magic and I appreciate the conversations that I share with other Black girls around the world. It’s important that we learn new perspective through conversation. Having the ability to learn from experience is a true gift.

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Valentine’s day is less than a week away and you’re probably thinking what you should buy for your lover or yourself. Yes, that’s right, I said YOURSELF. Valentine’s Day is about love, so don’t forget that self love is very important. To me, it’s important that I spoil myself here and there. It’s nice to gift someone with the traditional chocolates and flowers but you can never go wrong with a new bag. Whether you are shopping for he or she, the Dagne Dover Landon Carryall is a must have! This bag comes in three sizes (small, medium and large) ,four colors, and is unisex.  It’s perfect for going to work, the gym, or a quick weekend trip. My favorite feature is that the bag is 100% neoprene fabric. The fabric is so high tech that you can wash it and dry it.  There are multiple compartments, one for your phone, laptop, and it comes with a mini pouch.

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Different sizes come with a different prices but the good thing is that all the bags are UNDER $200. Step out the Valentine’s day comfort zone and buy a bag without breaking the bank!

Photographed by : @underground_nyc 

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I’ll never forget  February 2008, at my all girls catholic school in Los Angeles, CA. My middle school wanted to be “inclusive” so they renamed black history month to “multicultural month”. As a 13 year old black girl who went to a predominately white school, I felt like I was the only one yelling “Black Lives Matter!” while my ruler whipping nun of a principle was yelling ” Well, all lives matter!”. Back then, I felt I couldn’t change the 15 year old tradition of my schools “multicultural month”, but I knew I could change perspective with words. I rushed home after basketball practice on February 1 and bolted into my mothers bathroom. She was ecstatic to hear about my day but I was just ready to tell her about how my crazy catholic school really renamed black history month. I thought she would be ready to be my accomplice and march up to my school the next day to speak to the principal about this preposterous notion, but all she said was “look up Sojourner Truth”.

Sojourner Truth was a black female abolitionist, civil rights leader, and women’s rights advocate, who is best known for her speech “Ain’t I a Woman?”. After my mother said her name, I did tons of research on her. I read her memoir, books, and multiple sources. She was so cool to me because she spoke dutch, made her way out slavery, and led her people to freedom. My 13 year old self became so obsessed that I started dreaming of conversations between the two of us. At the end of February, my school held a multicultural potluck for the students and their families. The students were allowed to bring in foods from their culture and make speeches. Only 5 girls in the entire middle school signed up to make a speech and I made sure I was one of them.

The day of the potluck my mom had to catch a flight for a speaking engagement, but she made sure I looked good and went to school with the best Jamaican fried plantains. My mom is talented when it comes down to motherly costume design. Between 6:45 AM to 7:30 AM my mom took the time to transform me into looking like Sojourner Truth. She slobbered a big ole kiss on my face and said “Baby, today is the day you speak your truth!”.  At 10AM, I walked into my school gymnasium with 200 of my school mates and their family members. I waited for my care taker Ms. Mae, who is like my second mother, to bring my fresh plantains to school and tell me that I could do this speech. At noon, I began making my way to the stage podium. My heart began to race and my hands started to shake, but as I looked in the audience, Ms. Mae was entering the gym with the plantains and she had the biggest smile on her face. I left the podium, took center stage and began reciting Sojourner Truth’s speech, “Ain’t I a Woman?”. I felt like I was Sojourner leading men, women, and children to freedom, declaring my rights, and speaking my absolute truth. After my speech the entire gymnasium was on their feet roaring, clapping, and whistling at me. I walked down to the floor level with a huge smile on my face, knowing that I killed my speech and ready to eat Ms. Mae’s plantains.  An older white gentleman, that was freakishly tall, tapped me on my shoulder, shook my hand, looked me in my eyes and said ” you are powerful, that was powerful, and thank you for teaching me”. I looked him in his eyes and said ” thank you”, knowing that my BLACK HISTORY MATTERS!

xoxo,

Ivy Coco

Photographed by Castle

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A few months ago, I moved to New York City and it has to be one of the greatest decisions I’ve made in my life. I lived in NYC as a kid, while my mother was on broadway, but now that I am older, I get to relive the city in a more mature manner.  I love waking up and knowing that my day will be full of adventure. NYC gives me the confidence to take over the world. I’m not sure if it is the place to start a family but as I enjoy my twenties, I am very happy.

One thing about NYC that I love are the coffee shops. I’m not a heavy coffee drinker, but I do enjoy a good cup of hot cocoa, hence my name, lol! On every block, there is a coffee shop. No matter if it is big, small, colorful, busy, or noisy, somehow I find beauty in any coffee shop I go to. I love going to coffee shops to read, blog, have a photo shoot, or have meetings. Every coffee shop is different and they are all filled with different people. No matter what day of the week it is, you never know who you can meet. I’ve made great connections with fellow bloggers, editors, business owners, and genuine people. Being a somewhat “new comer” to NYC, coffee shops have really allowed me to expand my business and brand. When I am in a coffee shop, I have the tendency to get things done much quicker. Something about the environment in coffee makes me happy. I feel like it gives me a sense of structure. It is so important that we learn the environments that allow us to excel. Just because I can focus in a coffee shop doesn’t mean that I can focus in a library. We all digest things differently in different areas. I personally enjoy learning and getting tasks done when I am surrounded by people and a little noise. What works for me might not work for you, but there is not harm in trying. Make sure you take the time to understand the environments that can allow you to shine.

Love,

Ivy Coco

Photographed by Roderick Jackson  (@shotsbyrod)

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It’s such a great feeling when you discover something new. I know I’m not the only one who enjoys discovering new foods, shows, movies and relationships. Last week, I discovered Refinery 29‘s newest web show, Lingo With Lyric. You’re probably asking yourself, ” who is Lyric ?”, well in my opinion, she is probably the coolest person you’ll ever meet. Lyric is that one friend that is beautiful, smart, always willing to turn up, and not afraid to ask people thought provoking questions in any setting. Lyric has taken her wit and charm to the streets of New York City, asking individuals about a topic we know about but choose not to discuss, RACE.

In the first episode of Lingo With Lyric, she addresses and discusses the meaning of post race. Being a woman color, I’ve taken the time to learn about the terminology of post race, but it seemed like very few in the big apple new the meaning. For those of you who don’t know what post race means, it is defined as being free from racial discrimination and preference. America is definitely not living in a post race society, even though we should be. Look at our upcoming president, let’s just say living in a post-racial America isn’t on his agenda nor twitter timeline. Lyric didn’t just asks people questions about “post race”, but she took the time to educate people about how we can change the perspective of understanding race. CHECK IT OUT!