Dakar Travel Blog› entry 6 of 8 › view all entries
It was my fisrt time in Africa. I mean subsaharian Africa...the one I imagined, the one the Youssou N'Dour and Akon sing, the one that I was longing to see for some time.
Just arriving there, I felt the local energy run through the place. The airpoort in Dakar is rather small, but very colorful. We (I was with a bunch of 5 other people) landed at night, and the first thing that struck me was this ocean perfume filling the air. Fish, see, Atlantic. It was so refreshing. The airport was jam-packed with people, many women wearing those beautiful traditional dresses in all imaginable colors and motives. It was like a carnival... so full of life!
The next few days, my travel buddies and I visited Dakar, a charming capital with a joyful confusion reigning in the vibrant city. The outskirts of it are almost a construction site, with red dust, goats and little fish markets everywhere. The city's main part is very beautiful, with its park, its market and crowded streets. The secret, I found out, was just to go with the vibe, enjoy the caos and open your eyes. I was amazed.
We got the chance to go to a very important place for African and golbal history: Goree Island. It might not seem familiar, but that's the place where about 3 millions Africans passed, then sold in the Americas as slaves. Slavery lasted no less than 300 years, and the conditions of those people brought by force to work on sugar cane plantations were atrocious. We got to visit the Maison des Esclaves (Slave House) were they were kept. But Goree Island is also a paradise island, apart from its dark past. Today it's a place with no cars, where sustainable developpement has an important place and historical houses are well conserved. The narrow streets are filled with light, no other sound but that of the sea and some musician playing kora (sort of senegalese guitar). Each house is of a diferent color, and a little beach is a great treat after a long day in the sun. Local food is delicious: grilled fish and rice, with a tasty sauce ... just the thought of it makes my mouth water.
The rest of our trip took place in Thies ('bout 70 km from Dakar), where we stayed in a Senegalese home. Our host was a very kind hearted man, who took us to visit some incredible places and people. We spent a day at a beach near Saly. The route to get there was picturesque, almost dreamlike: tall baobas, people walking on the side of the road, little huts and villages. Lake Rose was also an astononishing place: its name comes from the fact that the lake is actually pink, because of the very high concentration in salt and a special form of algae. We had an amazing opportunity to visit some schools and talk to the students, learn a little about their lives and visions. It was the best part of the trip, people are so warm and interesting.
In between activities we had a lot of time to relax outside on a chair, enjoy the atmosphere, playing some djembe (drums). We went to the market a couple of times, and that's the place for socializing. Senegalese people love talking; when I went to buy someting I always stayed about half an hour to have a chat with the owner, bargain and joke around. They were very easy going, open and welcoming. It's called Teranga!
When it was time for lunch, we all sat on a large mat on the flour, with a big bowl for everyone in the middle. We all ate with our hand (the right one only, it's not polite to use the left one... it's considered unpure) Strangely, food is so much more tasty when you eat it with your fingers... or was is just the food itself that was delicious? Well, a mix of both, I guess!
The end our week (it was only 7 days...) came too fast. During my stay, I found time long ... not beacause I was bored, on the contrary because I was getting the most of my days; I learned a lot from the Senegalse way of seing life. It's about the moment, the beauty of life, that joy you take the time to grasp, one smile you give to spread some happiness... But also constructing a future and working hard to develop an amazing country. All of this sounds quite corny, but nothing of it is untrue... Go to Senegal, you'll see.