[ Dakar, Senegal]
Today is my 10th day in the capital–so far a fantastic experience. I have been piecing together places to stay from CouchSurfing and chance encounters, and what a great time to be here! The 9th International Graffiti Festival (Festigraff1 on Facebook) is ongoing, and a massive festival for contemporary African art, the Dakar Biennale, begins on May 3rd. The Biennale will bring together numerous threads from my trip, including a reunion with friends from Mauritania.
My time has largely been spent in front of a computer, installing long overdue upgrades for this website and, finally, taking some intensive French lessons. Immersion is a frustrating process, but rewarding–reminiscent of my early days in Germany. But I have made time to follow street processions and crash all-night performances of trance-like Sufi chant; I have braved the local minibuses, gotten lost in the medina, and ridden my bike in traffic that would make a Delhi tuk-tuk driver faint, or blush, or whatever. I’ve also gotten a grasp on the wide variety of local cuisines–always one of my favorite things to explore.
As it stands, I plan to stay here a full month–a lengthy break after four months on the road. (For anyone keeping track, I started pedaling south from Casablanca on December 18th. I arrived in Dakar on April 17th. That’s one-third of a year. Not an insubstantial period.) The path ahead has also been tentatively planned–a thousand-kilometer route leading deep into The Gambia and rural southern Senegal before crossing into Guinea-Bissau. Some of the most anticipated (by me) destinations in northwest Africa are now within reach: Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Ghana.
For now, I’m including a handful of pics of the ride down from Saint Louis and my first days here in Dakar.