Existing Member?

It's a long climb, to get to the bottom of things

and yes, I am afraid of bed bugs.

SENEGAL | Wednesday, 15 September 2004 | Views [391]

well hello there, mes amis.
after a grueling 26hours of surviving on airplane food alone, i have arrived in senegal. arriving after dark was a bit harrowing, and of course the only ATM in the airport was conveniently not accepting any of the three cards i tried (it all seems a bit fishy to me) so instead i had my first dealings on the black market trade for cash. led upstairs and down the back, into a room not wide enough in any direction to lie down in, they scoffed at american dollars. for the record, the euro is where it's at and even those with no money don't care much for ours. i finally haggled a decent rate out of them (ha! like i KNEW it was a decent rate, but it proved to be later when i could research it, thankfully) and then i was whisked away by my hundreds of new 'friends' to a car that had little to no windshield (but don't worry, it technically still had glass protecting the driver's face) and two unopenable doors. after the ride began i could see why. traffic was as bad as chicago at 4pm on friday. people just randomly crossed the highway where they saw fit. and lanes? just honk your horn and squeeze as close to the car next to you as possible. can't wait to try out one of the buses. there were so many people crowded into them that two guys just left the back doors open and held on to the handles while surfing the bumper. once we turned onto a road without traffic, i got to experience my first race. unless the speedometer was leaning out of deferrence to the ever flattening tires beneath us, i count us as going about 100 mph. luckily we slowed again once the city streets began to catch up to us. i did reach my hotel, which did get my reservation. so i spent my first evening listening to modest mouse and sewing pockets full of cash into the lining of my jeans. in air conditioning!
the next morning i had to find a cheaper place to sleep. any time you walk three steps, you meet a new friend whose only desire is to help you. knowing full well what i was participating in (the demand for a suitable gift from my heart to his wallet came in due time), i let him show me the post office, a new, cheaper hotel ( and guess what? it doubles as a brothel, isn't THAT cool?) and a bank that actually thank you lord accepted my debit card!!!! i actually really like the new hotel. a room with a foam mattress and a fan strapped to the wall, my own mosquito net draped like the canopy bed i always wanted in my youth. a shared bathroom of indeterminate color-it all seems fairly clean, just used to the point of greyness. the momma ( they call the woman of the house the momma and the owner the pappa) is VERY pregnant. her name is didi. she shines with a peaceful cheerfulness that makes me want to give her a chair and chat as i finish cleaning for her.
i read in some travel books that the budget hotels in dakar are all infested with bedbugs. i have had an irrational fear of bedbugs and lice my whole life. they say you can tell from blood on the sheets and on the walls next to the bed. there are spots, rust or blood i don't know. i try to take hope from the fact that i saw didi changing the sheets as i arrived. i took a nap, no bites!. but i think bedbugs are nocturnal little buggers. AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!! i guess conquering fears comes one step at a time. i did get out to conquer the city.(for those who have not received these emails before, i have a habit of wandering until i am hopelessly lost and must pay a small boy to show me the three blocks back to my hotel. conquering is when i can go out for at least three hours and in less time than the journey around, find my way back to my hotel) i guess this does get easier with experience, my hotel was looking good from every direction i wandered off in. there are few street signs, and dirt alleys that are called streets on the map, like morrocco, but i still managed to find my way into and back out of the market without paying a kid to show me the way. and i found the beach which had to be a few miles outside of the city centre. it is hotter than august in florida here. i am constantly dripping, my clothes are a new stage of damp that i don't think has the spirit to dry again in this heat. as far as i can tell, there are no other tourists here. i saw a couple get off the plane, but none in the entire city i have walked all day today. can't decide if i want to stay and see if i can find both dancing and my friend jaime in the peace corps or take a train to mali or a taxi brousse to gambia right away. dakar is a bit of a rough place. there has never been violent crime on tourists, but the emotional tax of being in a city this insane is heavy. i do miss you all. i wish you could all be here to laugh with me when with delirious joy when i can once again see my hotel before me as though i actually knew it was there the whole time. there is lots of culture shock going on here. i seem to remember casablanca feeling this tough and unfathomable when i first got there, i can't imagine looking for a specific address. none of the buildings really seem sure that they match the numbers meandering across their windows. perhaps that is why most of they decline declaring their location at all. but hey, my baggage followed me here, i got three planes to be on time and my taxi didn't kill me, so off with an adventurous heart we go. welcome to africa.
love, emily

Tags: dakar, emily predny, predny, senegal


Add your comments

(If you have a travel question, get your Answers here)

In order to avoid spam on these blogs, please enter the code you see in the image. Comments identified as spam will be deleted.



Travel Answers about Senegal

Do you have a travel question? Ask other World Nomads.