Out of my comfort zone
Dakar a city which I never thought I would ever visit. During my study, I had a minor/course that allowed me to go abroad to a developing country. I had a list of countries like Kenya, Zambia, Gambia, Honduras, Ethiopia, and Senegal. The reason for me to choose Senegal was because of the language they speak. I had the chance to develop my French and I never heard of this country, I didn’t even know where it was, therefore, it was very interesting to me.
September 2013 I took my first flight longer than 6 hours. I haven’t been flying to a lot of different continents so it was an amazing experience for me. The first thing I noticed during my flight to Senegal was that first of all me and four other girls were the only white ones on the plane and second of all that a lot of people were analphabets. In the plane, several people asked us to help with the details on the form because they couldn’t read or write.
After a long flight, we arrived in a little village called Mbao, a little place close to Dakar. In the middle of this little developing village was our house for the coming months. It was a very cute little house with a big garden and it didn’t look that bad at all. Except for the weather and electricity circumstances. The minute that we arrived the electricity in the whole city didn’t work. In Senegal, people are short-term thinkers and they have built one line/pipe for this and when it breaks off course there is no other solution for nobody haha. We needed to go back to basics which I was kind of excited about except for sleeping in 40 degrees without air conditioning or a fan under a mosquito net with malaria flying around. And not to forget there was no access to water which means showering yourself with a bucket.
We supposed to start directly with a project but we also started to figure out very quickly that we are in Africa and there ain’t no fast way here. The first week we were sitting around doing nothing waiting for our contact person to show up. We started to explore Senegal a bit and went to Ngor Island which is my favorite place in Dakar. It is a little Island which feels like magic. People playing djembe on the beach, little private beaches when you walk around this mini island. I have been eating the freshest fish I ever had and enjoyed the African summer feeling.
I have been learning some Wolof which is the language of Senegal, Mauritania, and Gambia. It is the language spoken by ” Wolof people” their tribe. Mostly they speak also French.
Nannn nga def= how are you?
Mangi fi rekk= I am good!
May ma jam= leave me alone!
Toubab= white person.
To let you understand the “white person” thing. Every child screams toubab when you walking around. Not as an assault but just for fun and because you are white and that is uncommon. They mean it in a lovely way.
Best Statue ever
They have an amazing monument called ” African Renaissance Monument”. I even think it is 10 times prettier than the New York State of Liberty. It is a 49-meter tall bronze statue on top of the Collines des Mamelles. Overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. This is the tallest statue in Africa. You can go inside and see through the eyes of the statue.
I was in Senegal during ” Tabaski” which is for the Muslims Eid al-Adha also called the “Sacrifice Feast”. Where they sacrifice a sheep. That was a quite strange experience. People carrying their sheep on top of their cars and even my neighbor brought me a piece of the sheep. Not the most pleasant present I ever got.
Senegalese men have multiple wives. Yes, they still live in this century. They are very proud to tell you about all their wives. If you have multiple wives it means you have enough money to take care of them. I was kind of shocked when I first found out during a conversation with a teacher (57 years old). When he told me about is 4 wives. One was 55 years old, the other 48 years old, the third one 28 and his youngest wife was 18. I had an interesting conversation with him asking; how can you take care of so many women, most men can’t even take care of one? He started to laugh and said; we all take care of each other and I rather have my wives than cheating on my wife.
During my time in Senegal, I also went to Saly. This is a more touristic place in Senegal and it’s very beautiful and quite. We did a beautiful safari trip there and stayed in a hotel called La Medina. Even coming to a hotel makes you feel like home, the people are extremely nice.
Accidents on the road
I got into several accidents on the road. The cars are awful and I definitely know how a car looks inside out now. Three times we got a flat tire during driving on a high way with a taxi. One time the front of the car came up and blocked the view for the driver while driving. I had to push it down while the car was still driving on the high way. Our Range Rover broke down in flames while driving which we figured out right on time because of awful smell in the car. When we opened the front of the car fire was coming out of it. Nothing was left of the car after 10 minutes. Next, to that, we got in an accident with a donkey. The donkey came with his carrier from the right hitting or car. It was his fault but eh.. who is going to pay the bill, guess the donkey. 😛
My impulsive behavior brought me the most amazing experience ever. Nobody can take away from me what I experienced here. The smiles of those children, the impact of our project and the people I met. The culture I felt and the language I learned.
Even though it was a different culture I felt home. Home in the meaning of solidarity, love, and purity.
Jërëjëf!(thank you) Senegal.
Are you thinking about visiting Dakar?
Get my guidebook (soon to be found in my shop) or contact me as your Travel Agent.