A little oasis in a city on speed

We had heard that the anchorage in Dakar was located where the city’s sewage washed into the sea, that it could be so smelly that you wake up from it at night, and that you must wash your hands if you accidentally get any of the water on your hands, not to contract som illness or infection. And yes, the water was pretty much the filthiest we had seen so far, so we were happy that the CVD provided a ferry shuttle that would sail around the anchorage every couple of hours and pick up the people who would like to go on land.

On the first morning we were woken bright and early by the calling of the many mosque’s of the city. We could already feel the heat of the day creeping up on us, and had breakfast in the cockpit while looking at the many fishing boats going around in the bay. Africa, we had sailed to Africa.

We were picked up by the ferry shuttle, and soon met the others living in the anchorage. There was Moussa the fisherman, Moussa the mechanic, the old muslim guy, the young student and a number of others. We were a bit surprised at first, seeing all these local men living on the boats, which looked very much like 1st world cruising yachts. But it turns out that if you leave your boat at CVD, you need a caretaker on board, otherwise everything valuable will be stolen pretty fast. And our impression was, that once a boat has been left at anchor, the owners don’t seem to bother going back to pick them up. Strange, but apparently more common than one would think. They all welcomed us, and we got to practice our french on the sail in to the jetty.

The CVD is a bit of a strange place, the yacht club was created by the french, and it seems that since they left, nobody has found it necessary to do any kind of repair or renovations. So it’s a rather rundown place, but with a quiet charm and a number of people trying to make a living there. But before we could spend some time here, we would need to go and do the formalities with the immigration police and customs. So we had dressed up in proper clothes, with Esben wearing the new white shirt we had bought on La Gomera for the occasion. We asked a taxi outside CVD to take us around to where we needed to go, and this made it all a lot easier, since he was used to the round trip.

We soon realized that most roads in Dakar are made of sand, and that traffic seems to be in an endless traffic jam, with people shouting and yelling at each other and simply driving wherever they see fit. In between the cars, men are walking around selling water, sunglasses and any other thing you can think of, and you have donkeys carrying everything from used tires to water bottles. The kids couldn’t stop staring at the wildly colored “African busses”, filled to the brim with people, and somehow always with space for just one more passenger.

We got through the formalities relatively easy, and went back to the CVD, where we found a restaurant down the road where we celebrated arriving in Dakar. After dinner, we had a long talk with the owner of the restaurant, who had very strong opinions about colonization, and the distribution of power today. In short, Africa is being exploited by the west, and Africans themselves don’t have any responsibility for the current situation of poverty, lack of education etc. I guess we’re naïve Danes, but though we agree on some of it, the idea of no personal responsibility took us a bit aback. But during our time in West Africa, we were to learn that this is the common way of thinking.

We soon settled in to a daily routine of going in with the first ferry shuttle and spend a couple of hours doing school in the shade of the trees by the beach. Here we met the many people associated with the club. Mama Nouga sold us nougat made from the local ground nuts. She was very interested in getting her hands on Mattis’ school books, but we unfortunately didn’t have any to give away. In CVD, we also payed somebody to do our laundry by hand for the first time. We didn’t feel great about it, but figured that she has to make a living, and it’s okay to support her in that. Plus, I think we were way overpriced, though for us the price seemed fair. And the laundry was cleaner than it has ever been before. The local seamstress came by and offered to sew us clothes in the fabric we liked. We ordered some trousers for me and Esben, Esben got a shirt and we got a courtesy flag for Guyana. Total price was 24 euro. A very nice, and useful souvenir, plus the lady was one of the nicest people we met during our time in Dakar. A couple of times we were lucky to get to the local hangout before lunch was sold out, and we got a delicious bowl of spicy rice, with some boiled vegetables and a bit of fish in it for about 3 euros in total. It was nice to hang out with the locals and we loved the food, though some people probably would have doubts about the hygiene of the place.

You can find Chip-Chips most recent position here.

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