Well after a three hour flight I arrived in Dakar and a wonderful half week began. The first day I spent the whole time exploring N’gor, a peri-urban village of Dakar. N’Gor basically consists of a beach surrounded by waves, hotels, and shacks and than tapers off into a village that looks like a favela
. Piorques line the beaches and children and lambs and goats eat and play all day by the shore. I met a local on the beach named jallah who toured me around his whole village showing me the fishing collaboration of villagers (who all feed and profit from each other), introducing me to the village elders, showing me some village customs(like the birthing tree), and so much more. However, the most surprising was the young adult population, they weren’t just fit they were also huge. Flocks of furrowed men ran up and down the beach, some were practicing martial arts, others football drills. Throughout my trip I would find out how fit Dakar was. A whole culture revolved around working out; from billboards that read Orange "Le Service le plus fort" with a body builder in the back round, to kids doing push ups. It was cultural centre point.
The second day I got up a 7 and my hostel arranged for a driver and his friend to take me where every I wanted. So I told them to take me Bandia in the south of Dakar where there was a wildlife reserve. It rained the whole way there madding the roads very difficult and the reserve inaccessible by anything less than a 4x4. So at the entrance of the reserve we waited for an hour in torrential downpour to see if any large party would show up and rent a guide and 4x4 from the park. Finally a group of 16 Spaniards showed up and agreed to let me go with them
. We spent 3 and half hours schlepping through what seemed like lakes of mud on a safari looking at giraffes, rhinos, and a diverse variety Sahara animals that didn’t include any predators except one ostrich that attacked us. After the safari I got in the car with my drivers and went to Le Lac Rose. It was a really beautiful drive to a strange salt lake that had huge sand dunes on one side of it and huge salt mounds on the other all separated by the most serenely colored rose lake in between.
The next two days I moved from my hostel in Dakar to a surfing island right next to n’gor. The first day was spent locked inside due to what can only be called violent rains, but I met and Irishman, 2 Brits, and a Danish man with his French wife. We locked ourselves in the main room of the surfcamp/hostel and played a drinking card game all day and most of the night. The next day however, we woke up in full swing and went out surfing all day on 2-3+ meter waves. I was totally out of shape and pasty white so after 5 hours I was smelting red and unable to lift my arms. It was incredible to watch some of the locals who just spend every day all day in that tropical weather surfing.
A friend told me before I left Mali for a 4-day excursion that Dakar, Senegal was a great combination of the Europe and West Africa, but I thought of Dakar as a Bamako 2.0. Just seconds outside the airport and I saw all the signs that I was in fact in Bamako. Taxista's and venders alike yelling and waiting to negotiate, mud and dirt everywhere, and crowds of people who just appear to be doing nothing, but a few steps further and I could see paved roads, double story cement houses, and cars that, while still detritus, were cushioned with radios and windows that worked.