Sweet Home Alabama

Dakar Travel Blog

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So today was explore downtown Dakar day.  Me and another girl, Natalie, were paired up together and we headed in a taxi towards the center-city set out to change some money, buy some souvenirs, get some questions answered on a sheet our director gave us, and avoided getting scammed or pickpocketed. At first, task number one seemed impossible. We could not find a bank that would cash travelers checks. As we walked helplessly back onto the insanely crowded sidewalk, a man approached us (just like every other had previously done) and asked, "Italiano? Espanol?" "Non, je suis americaine." He burst into perfect English. "American! I have many friends from the United States. Where are you from?"

Anyway, the conversation continued. When I told him I was from North Carolina, he said he knew of Duke University. He introduced himself with his African name, but said he was also called "Alabama." Even funnier was that his English had a slight southern accent. It was great. Well, Alabama helped us find a bank to change money, then he asked us to come see his fabric store. Of course; he was trying to sell us stuff. But his workers were really nice; one gave us free jewelry. We talked with them for a while and Natalie bought a skirt after trying to bargain for the first time. One of the guys there even invited us to his baby's baptism before we escaped.

However, the first guy following us was the only experience of its kind to reveal positive benefits. Others were just annoying and wouldn't listen, and they were more obvious in their alterior motives - quite sketchy.

We wandered the streets for hours, finding a modern supermarché, a national art gallery with tapestries, a fish and vegtable market, and more. It was a long, tiring day. My shoulders got the worst sunburn and we walked a total of four or five hours straight (not including our lunch break).

Seeing so many different parts of the city, the center and some residential areas, was really cool. I just hope I have the guts to go back on my own while I'm here, at least when my French gets better.

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