A town asleep at noon

I slept well at the Océanic, even though it was odd to drape a mosquito net over and around me. It probably was a bit of an overkill, but then, you can never be too careful! Breakfast was served in the courtyard under a tress, sitting beneath a rooflike wooden structure barely covered by some green netting. The tables and chairs as well as the table cloth are plastic, the service indifferent to surly, the coffee a vile, bitter concoction. Apart from this, breakfast consist of a bread basket containing one delicious croissant and a small length of baguette, complete with butter and strawberry jam. A choice of three carton juices round off the offer – which is, by the way, expensive by local standards.

Once ready, we walked across the humid, deserted streets of central Dakar – the government district – the the main square, the Place de l’Indépendance. It’s in bad disrepair. The grass is overgrown, the pavement alternates with gravel, the fountain has run dry. Across the houses where at night no light ever seems to burn, men are milling about, offering to sell trinkets such as wallets without really meaning it, as if they had long since given up hope. It’s odd. With so many people clearly at a loss of what to do, maybe the government could give them all jobs sprucing up the place? But then, I know nothing about the senegalese economy, and I’m told overall, it’s in good shape.

Run-down Place de la Indépendance gives central Dakar a desolate air

We find a beach – not exactly clean – and swim out to the buoy in the distance. The water is pleasant and warm. It can’t be too polluted as there’s a posh hotel along the shore, its bit of sea cordoned off for paying guests. Either way, once I’m near or in the sea, I am happy – it’s one of my favourite things to be buoyed by the water and plough through gentle waves towards the horizon. At midday, a woman dressed in a white traditional dress arrives with a gaggle of toddlers who bring the place to life with their boundless joie de vivre. We dry off on the rocks, where I meditate listening to the ocean before making for our next destination,  Gorée Island.

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