When they honk, don’t be offended
After two weeks in Senegal I have come to the following conclusion about West Africa: What makes the most sense is less important than the illusion of order. Put another way, you cannot simply walk from point A to point B; you can wait, change rooms, wait again, and then travel through points C, D, E, F before having your passport checked to make sure you belong at point B? Anything official in Senegal is staggeringly slow, unnecessarily redundant, and really quite odd; but then I give you the most brutally efficient device in Senegal…the car horn. The car horn is so important that when the original honking device on the car breaks, and it will due to very frequent use, other knobs, levers and devices are converted into the new control for the horn. Why have turn signals, widow-wipers, or brights when that lever can be used as a horn? Seriously though, driving is crazy and without a horn you would get into an accident in the first mile.
As I have been extremely lazy in posting, I will try to recap our last couple of weeks in a sentence. Our hosts are awesome…we have stayed with Jess’ old friend Abdu and his lovely wife, eaten very well, and explored much of Dakar and the beachy Casamance area of Southern Senegal. Dakar is a very different city from Bamako; its much more sophisticated and developed but still has that community feel unique (for me at least) to West Africa. Unfortunately, with a bit more city comes a few more jerks: Jess is hounded quite a bit more here by people trying to sell us stuff, ask for handouts, and sometimes actually demanding money from us for no other reason than because we have it. We are definitely viewed as cash machines to some here, which is unfortunate as the majority of people are really interested in just talking and getting to know us. Jess bears the brunt of this as she speaks French and really wants to talk with locals to be a good visitor and because she loves the people here…I say I don’t speak French and they leave me alone. The rub is that every 5-6 days I get a little crazy with everyone having conversations that I can’t understand. It’s frustrating and a little lonely.
On a good note, my feet have finally healed and I’m over my first bout of travelers’ sickness. Things are looking up! Incha’allah.
Today we went to Lac Rose, a naturally occurring pink salt lake like the Dead Sea. It is definitely weird to float in a lake 10 times as salty as the sea; you just pop up out of the water. You can float on your back in a foot of water!
Tomorrow is our last day in Dakar and then we are off to the St. Louis area for a couple of days before making our way through Mauritania, Western Sahara and Southern Morocco on an epic overland adventure. I like Senegal, but I’m ready to move on I think.