. OnHiatus.com > Journal 1 > Day Index > Journal Entry: September 18, 1998

Friday, September 18, 1998
Dakar, Senegal
Senegal's Flag

Map
Dakar, Senegal:
Latitude: 14° 40' 20" North
Longitude: 17° 25' 55" West
Altitude: 70 feet
From Seattle: 6675 miles
Lodging: Hotel - Hôtel Provençal

Map
Today's Travel:
Country: Senegal
Region: Cap Vert
Weather: Partial Sun / Rain

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Map
Trip Stats to Date:
Day: 526
Linear Dist: 126105
Countries Visited: 36
Regions Visited: 150
More stats...
Hotels: 133
Friends / Family: 154
Camping: 42
Hostels: 141
Transit: 49
Other Lodging: 6
Beers: 1935
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Journal Entry:
Another night of no sleep. The heat, humidity, and bugs kept me up. After my first trial, the oh so clever mosquito net I bought at REI has proven to be useless. The Sleep Screen, by Epco Design looks like a good idea: a pup tent like dome over the head and torso, very light weight with break down poles. Immediately after setting it up last night I realized a major drawback: there's no protection over your lower body, so if it's too hot for a sleeping bag, blanket, or even a sheet you are screwed. So I had to suffer under a sheet (which remembering back to New Orleans and watching the mosquitoes go through my jeans is dubious protection anyway). Shortly after going to bed the major flaw showed: there is no wrap around to the net. If the surface you are sleeping on is not perfectly flat it is useless. When the weight of your body is on a bed, it's not perfectly flat, thus there is a gap on most sides of the net. Anyway doing battle with the mosquitoes contributed to my sleeplessness. Regardless of how many I killed, I don't think I won as no part of my upper body escaped bites (I count more than thirty, not as bad as Isle Royal National Park, MI a year ago last May, but bad enough). I need to shop for a full net.

Toady's goals were visa oriented. I wanted to try for five (in order of importance to my plans): The Gambia, Côte d'Ivoire, Burkino Faso / Togo, Mali, and Guinea. I went to the Gambian high commission first, and was told that I'd need to leave my passport and applications (and photos and 15,000 CFA fee) and I could pick up my passport Monday afternoon, which would mean I couldn't get anymore visas until Tuesday. Next was the Ivory Coast's Embassy, good news here I got to go straight in to talk with the consulate and US Citizens don't need visas. I went to the French Embassy to look at visas for Burkino Faso and Togo, but it was such a mad house I decided not to wait in line, especially since best case was they'd need my passport until late afternoon - which would be too late to turn it in to my priority visa source: The Gambia's officials. Mali I just gave up on as the embassy was too far for me to walk in the heat. On further study I think there is a good chance I won't make it to Guinea so I didn't bother with it either (both these should be available further on). I stopped and made a copy of my passport, then turned it in to the Gambians.

Next goal for the day was to try and find an ATM. I found several, but none that would accept my Visa card. I had decided to keep looking and not worry about it (I had changed US$40 at the airport) but then I realized it was Friday and I was running the very real risk of running out of money over the weekend (especially since I'd just turned in US$30 of the $40 I'd changed with my visa application), so I found a bank that could do a cash advance.

I have been worried that Internet access might be hard to find, unwarranted it turns out since I've found three cafes without even looking. I chose one at random and went and spent a few hours in air conditioned bliss (not cheap though, US$6 / hr, versus ~US$2.50 / hr in Rabat). Then it was back to try a nap, but it didn't work, so I sent some time with the Lonely Planet trying to refine my route through West Africa. The problem is that not only is my book (Lonely Planet's Africa on a shoestring) at least four (and I suspect five or six) years out of date it just doesn't include enough detail to make realistic plans. I went to a near by bookstore I'd discovered earlier and much to my surprise found a 1998 edition of the Rough Guide's Western Africa book. I've heard good things about the Rough Guides, so I've been meaning to try them anyway (I also found a Clancy novel, but that was a bonus).

Rest of the afternoon was spent wandering up Avenue Pompidou, past the edges of the Sandaga Market, and back, and then down to the Gorée Island ferry terminal. I was hoping to figure out the ferry schedule, but there were so many people and so much insanity that I gave up pretty quickly (I happened to be there when people were unloading / loading on a ferry).

I spent an hour or so at the Bar Gor&eacue;e (the open air place from last night) drinking water and reading my new guide book. The rest of the night was spent reading the new guide book and planning while drinking sodas then the low alcoholic beer, Gazelle, in the hotel cafe. A down pour quickly ended my plans to go out tonight. Nacel, an Algerian refuge who runs the cafe bought me one of the stronger beers (Flag) at sat down to talk after closing. The talk was conducted half in English / half in French with a dose of Arabic thrown in. It was enjoyable and refreshing after last nights request for money.

While huddling under this pathetic net writing this I've already killed two mosquitoes, obviously from the remains too late - I have a new goal for tomorrow.


Related Sites:
CNN: Current Weather in Dakar
US State Department Consular Information Sheets: Senegal
CIA World Fact Book: Senegal

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