Interviews

Black is Beautiful: Interview with Catia Dombaxe

Thank you so much for chatting with us today! Could you tell us a little about your story and what you do, for anyone who doesn’t know you yet?

I am Catia Dombaxe. I am Angolan and currently I am living in the US studying Chemistry and Forensic Sciences. I am a part-time traveler and a travel photographer. I have visited 52 countries and I use my social media platform to inspire people, mostly women and minorities, to travel without breaking the bank.

In the past seven years, I have lived in three different countries and I have learned to adapt to any situation. In fact, traveling is the reason why I am such a flexible and happy woman.

What change would you like to see change or happen in the travel and photography industries? What advice would you like to give to brands?

I would like to see more diversity and inclusion and when I say “diversity and inclusion” I mean true diversity. Completely inclusion of minorities and mostly black women. The lack of black people and women artists in the travel and photography industry is contempt. Black people and other minorities are very neglected, and I believe that my people just want opportunities. An infinity amount of opportunity to show that we are capable of achieve and create great things. Hence, my one and only advice to brands is to stop stereotyping us and genuinely give us the opportunity to show to the world how great we are.

What are some challenges or issues you have faced as a Black female traveler?

This is a question I receive all the time and it is devastating to me because I or any other Black female traveler should not be receiving this question, but this is all due to how society portray and treat black people. Along with that I can say that I have encountered many challenges and issues due to the color of my skin and because I am a woman. In many countries, I was stared at, taxis refused to ride with me, I was filmed as if I was a horrible thing, and I was treated less than an average white person because I was black.

What piece of advice would you give to new Black female travelers?

My women please do not ever give up of your dreams. Be ambitious and strong minded. Be spirited and explore the world with no fears. Many times, you will encounter obstacles along the way, but learn to turn these obstacles into opportunities. Be willing to get out of your comfort zone and mostly importantly please learn to accept and love change. CHANGE can be uncomfortable, but CHANGE is bold and that is what you are… You are bold and you should conquer the world.

Piece of advice to give non-black travelers.

To my non-black travelers, I would give the same encouragement/advice I give to my black female travelers. Explore beyond your roots and find the different personas inside of you. If you are given an opportunity to travel and change, please use it well, so well that you help others. Be respectful of others and do your research. Get informed and please do not get caught on the stereotypes associated with other races. Do not judge others because the system/society taught you that some are better than the others. That is not true and should treat everyone like you would like to be treated.

What are some myths and misconceptions about traveling as a black female solo travel that you’ve found to be untrue?

“Women should not travel alone.” This is a great myth and people should stop sharing this misconception because it only scares women from exploring the world. Women should do whatever they want, but at same time and like everything in life, do your research and be knowledgeable of what you want and the places you want to visit. Be open-minded and understand that the new country you will visit is completely different from yours and should respect their norms and traditions because you are the guest in their house.

“It is impossible to travel while in college.” Another huge misconception. It is damn possible to travel while in college. In fact, this is the best time of your life to travel. A great amount of universities offers amazing study abroad programs such as Semester at Sea and many others. Traveling while receiving school credit is very satisfying due to the fact that you are “killing two birds with one stone…” You get to travel – sometimes free of any cost – and you get to continue your education.

“Traveling is too expensive.” A completely lie instigated by, mostly, people who does not travel. Yes, traveling can be expensive if you do not do your homework or if you just like luxury and can afford it. I am not rich, I am a college student, but I have explored many countries and a great number of cities. If I did, you can do it too. All you need is to be opened to the different doors’ life opens to you. Be sociable and do not be scared to mingle with different people. Research and plan your own trip. Thankful we all have Google and internet, use it to the fullest. Follow travels who do not have a big platform and ask questions. Be curious and just do not accept the first price, learn to bargain, and buy flight in advance to get the best deals.

“Couchsurfing is dangerous.” Couchsurfing is everything, but dangerous. I have been using couchsurfing for over 3 years and I just love the Couchsurfing community. For who does not know, Couchsurfing is an online platform/community for travelers who need to find a host or wish to host travelers in their home country. Couchsurfing grows every year and the fantastic aspect of this platform is that you do not need to pay for the place you will stay. Instead of paying your host, you will provide cultural exchange and perhaps cook a warm meal from the place you come from. Couchsurfing is safe if you are responsible and you research before deciding to use of deciding to request to stay with someone. Additionally, Couchsurfing is not a perfect platform and you can find people who are not the best people. I have had my “not so happy” moment with Couchsurfing, but that did not stop me from continue to explore. Every time I visit a new city or country, I tried my very best to stay with a couchsurfer host.

What are some states or countries that have been kind to you?

Most of the states or countries I have been the locals were kind and very welcoming to me. I am going to list any specific place because I do not have a favorite place. Every country or city I have explored taught me something new and introduced me to one of my many personas.

What are some states or countries that haven’t been so kind?

So far, I would say that China is the only country that I felt stereotyped at all times and overall, I was not comfortable in this country. I experienced pure racism and it was a horrible experience. However, I would still advice my solo female travelers, especially black women, to still travel to China and explore it. China is an exquisite country with a rich culture and splendid traditions. One day, I would like to go back to China and hopeful have a better experience.

Tell us what you’re up to next and where we can find you.

Right now, due to COVID-19, I am in Virginia and for this summer I plan to only explore this state and perhaps other states, but I am not planning to do any international travels until 2021. I spend most of my time on my Instagram: @cdombaxi, but also, I am on my website where you can find travels tips, advice, and overall ask me questions. I love to help travelers. Additionally, I have been selling my travel book and prints, in canvas, of my travel photography. Everything is available on my website: www.zungueiramundial.com

Some of Catia’s work


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