“The gracefulness of the slender fishing boats that glided into the harbor in Dakar was equaled only by the elegance of the Senegalese women who sailed through the city in flowing robes and turbaned heads. I wandered through the nearby marketplace, intoxicated by the exotic spices and perfumes. The Senegalese are a handsome people and I enjoyed the brief time that Oliver and I spent in their country. The society showed how disparate elements– French, Islamic, and African– can mingle to create a unique and distinctive culture.”
― Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom
Somewhere in 2007 I made my way to Senegal. It was a strange time for me. My girlfriend and I had split after deciding to get more involved in my career. Senegal would give me the chance to conduct some community/medical relief work for some of the outlying towns and villages. The chance of a lifetime! How many opportunities do you get to travel across West Africa on someone else’s dime? Yeah, not very often. That’s how it started, and I was off.
I’m not sure why Senegal has crept back into the periphery lately. There are usually obvious clues during the days/weeks that immediately bring back some buried memory. Usually a whiff of some strange spice, or odd BO will resurrect some thoughts.
To be honest, thoughts of my travels have been stalking me for a while now. Hiking has gotten me back outside (past the streets and cafe’s) exploring. These experiences naturally bring up similar excursions. They’re different in magnitude, but they’re still amazing in their own way. It’s been a wonderful thing. I don’t know what else to call it. So, a “thing” will have to do for now.
Now that I’m on the Senegal kick, I’m just going to add some pictures. I can’t remember what movie was filmed near those huge cannons, but I’ll call you out if you know! Of all the places I visited in West Africa, Senegal was probably the safest and most accessible. You still need to be really careful though. Kudos to you if you speak Wolof, chances are it’s not offered at the local community college, but speaking some French would be your best bet. Really, the last thing you want is to be called “CIA man”. Know where you are going and don’t stroll around alone. It was definitely safe-ish during the day, depending on where you were and what you were doing. This was back in 2007ish. I imagine Dakar and Senegal as a whole has changed a lot. I truly hope for the better. It was one of the most beautiful places I had seen to date, and left an indelible impression.
I’m going to stop for the moment. Maybe my next trip out will jar loose some memories. Thanks for coming by and taking a look. As always, feel free to leave a message or anything you might want to add. If you’ve been to Senegal, fill me in! I’m curious to hear all about your experiences there.
Thanks again, and enjoy the trail!