Skiving in Senegal
Trip Start Sep 08, 2006
24Trip End ??? ??, 2007
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
2 weeks into my new job and I decided to take a holiday. The reason for my less-than-inspiring work ethic was the looming arrival of Koriteh, the end of Ramadan festival. For the last month, everyone has been starving themselves between dawn and dusk. Koriteh marks the chance to make up for lost time, to dance, to sing and to eat, eat, eat. Fun as this would have been, there will be other celebrations, but this is the only one where the public holiday is actually known in advance. National public holidays are apparently frequent (economy be damned) but last-minute, normally announced on the radio around midnight the night before (in Wolof). Many a VSO volunteer has had the experience of arriving at their office one morning to find it unexpectedly closed. So the knowledge of an impending 5 day weekend that would definitely without question be a holiday appeared the perfect opportunity to visit the Dakar, the capital of neighbouring country Senegal.
The main section of the journey involved a 6 hour car journey from the Senegalese border post to Dakar. The roads were pretty bad, resembling what I picture would be left after a meteor shower.
Dakar is not blessed with a multitude of tourist accommodation, so we went with the only hotel in our budget that Lonely Planet had not classed as a brothel. Unfortunately things had clearly gone downhill at the Hotel du Marche since Lonely Planet last paid a visit. I won't afflict you with the details, needless to say, one hour after we checked in, we checked out again.
Dakar is bizarre. In the middle of West Africa, lies a corner of Paris. Well, if Paris had open sewers, tropical sunshine, and infinite mosques and mosquitoes dotted in amongst the boulangeries and patisseries.
We had taken the precaution of enquiring if this might be the case before we set off from Gambia but had been assured by all and sundry that everything would remain open. Thus lies one of the most exasperating Gambian tendancies.
Our trip to Dakar, if not a resounding success, was at least memorable, and served as an excellent scouting mission in preparation for future trips there (particularly if those of you who have made speculative noises about paying me a visit next year follow through with flight details). And it's served to remind me that I really need to get to grips with learning Wolof because I certainly can't rely on my French - my pathetic attempts to converse whilst in Senegal had people rolling around in laughter. Mainly because the only two phrases that I remember from school are "I am 12 years old" and "next to the toilet".