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Saturday, September 19, 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

Available Photos:

Ile de Gorée La Corniche Est, Dakar, Senegal

Kids playing in cove La Corniche Est, Dakar, Senegal

Dakar's resort strip La Corniche Est, Dakar, Senegal

Cap Manuel light house La Corniche Est, Dakar, Senegal

All photo images © 1997-2000 Anthony Jones - Images may not be used without prior written approval.

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Map
Trip Stats to Date:
Day: 527
Linear Dist: 126105
Countries Visited: 36
Regions Visited: 150
More stats...
Hotels: 134
Friends / Family: 154
Camping: 42
Hostels: 141
Transit: 49
Other Lodging: 6
Beers: 1939
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Journal Entry:
Actually got a decent nights sleep. I wet my top sheet which kept me cool if not comfortable. The mosquito net seemed to work somewhat better and I don't seem to have too many new bites (could be there just wasn't enough blood left to bother, or maybe the rain kept most of them away), but I did wake up several times with a roach crawling on the net - the inside of the net. Not the gigantic roaches of Marrakesh, but still not conducive to a sound sleep...

A couple hours later I'm changing my mind as I discover the new bites, apparently I did have blood left over.

I set out to walk the La Corniche Est (East ocean walk). I'd been warned that this wasn't the nicest area in town but I was surprised. Surprised in several ways. I didn't expect the people living in the bushes with a rood made of newspaper, and I didn't expect the people to be living between four and five star hotels, and I didn't expect the presidents house to be there either. I felt a little uncomfortable as I realized that there were no other tourists, and that this was (or at least parts of it were) a very poor poor part of town. An other surprise were the people, almost everyone said Bonjour, all of the children and lots of the adults smiled. All the kids waved and called out. Never did I feel threatened in any way except by my imagination at the beginning. Only once did anyone stop to talk to me and I never did figure out if he was an especially low key guide, or just nice, after the rest of the experience I'm inclined to think the later.

The walk was mostly nice. The beaches were picturesque and beautiful, the water crystal clear. The overgrowth was stunning in its greens and the sheer size of it's flowers. The dragon flies, the butterflies, everything was a riot of colors. But there were also the trash heaps dumped at the side of the road, the people camped on the beach or just stretched out on the road, the puddles of sewage. Just the sheer magnitude of the difference between the haves and the have nots, and such a few yards separating them...

The respite from constantly being hassled was so nice that I was beginning to loathe going back to downtown. What a difference a few blocks made in the attitudes of the people greeting me. What had been distressing the first day and amusing yesterday was distressing again. I was not up for dealing with it and told people over and over again that I just wanted to walk alone - go away. So logically I went to the Marché Sandaga (the main market in Dakar) where there would be tons of people trying to take advantage of a foreigner. Probably not the smartest move. I had a relatively peaceful snack of some sort of sweetened corn bread, some sand roasted nuts, and a coke. Then I continued my walk. I could feel my tolerance dropping and had decided to leave when a shop keeper who I had just said "non merci" to grabbed my pack from behind and yanked me to a stop. I spun around and he got right in my face and demanded to know what I wanted. I told him nothing and turned around and started walking and he grabbed my arm and spun me around and started yelling at me. I lost it. I hit his hand off my arm and started yelling back at him and was ready to hit back if he hit me. As this was in the middle of a crowded market there was quite an audience and several men grabbed the other guy and pulled him away while others apologized or at least repeated over and over that he was crazy.

Nothing came of it, but I'm pretty worried that lost it so easily. I think it was mostly because of the contrast between the non touristed coast and downtown, but also lack of sleep, the visa frustrations and I don't know what else. I'm totally amazed at how something that can be amusing and enjoyable in one attitude can be infuriating in another. I'm also more than a little worried. I can only remember three or four times in my reasonably adult life that I've lost my temper...

Tonight I discovered that there are bigger roaches than those I saw in Marrakesh. At least it wasn't in my room, I would have been packing immediately. I walked down to the Bar Gorée and had just turned down several (presumed) prostitutes and sat down with a beer. I was somewhat disappointed, because I'd been hoping to find other travelers there (with the exception of two middle aged French men sitting with some eighteen year old local girls) every one looked local. All of a sudden something the size of my foot streaked by. My first thought was that it was a rat (this is an out door bar with some large trees), but when it paused I was able to focus on it. It wasn't a rat, it was a roach. It also wasn't quite the size of my foot, but it was still a good four inches long, and definitely the largest cockroach I'd ever seen. Yet another plus for Dakar, I am ready to get out of this city.


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

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