Monday, 30 September 2013

My first days in Dakar!

As Salaam Ailaikum! (greeting among Muslims)

Saturday afternoon I arrived safely in Senegal. I was quite excited to enter the country, since I did not have a visa in my passport. I only had an e-mail saying that my visa application was approved. Although the Embassy in Brussels told me that this e-mail was sufficient and they were sure I could pick the visa up at Leopold Sedar Senghor International Airport in Dakar, I was not entirely sure whether that was indeed the case. At customs, I did receive a stamp, but no visa. I was asked to enter a small office (2x2m) and a guy asked me many questions, my finger prints were taken and after 25 minutes I saw that the guy printed my visa. I can’t describe how happy I was! ;-) Since it took me some time to get the visa, all suitcases were already loaded on the luggage belt and my two bags were already waiting for me. 

I was so delighted to have this visa in my passport!
I saw that I had already a missed call from Bijou (my Senegalese friend who I met during my pilot study in May), because she was worried and wanted to know if everything was alright. Bijou picked me up from the airport and we took a taxi to the city centre of Dakar. It was 28 degrees, the sun was shining and it felt like I left this beautiful city a week ago. In the taxi, Bijou started a conversation with the taxi driver that it was really crazy that there was no water in Dakar already for 15 days! OMG, I thought: welcome in Africa!!

Indeed, I saw many people on the streets carrying bottles and buckets with water. Later that day I learned that ‘only’ half of the city of Dakar did not have running water. Unfortunately, my apartment was situated in that part of the city, but luckily enough the house of the mother of Bijou is not and I am able to go there to get water when I need it. :-)

The taxi brought us to my new home. My apartment was situated close to the bus station and close to the house of the mother of Bijou. The boyfriend of Bijou, called Bocar, is also living in this neighbourhood and he was waiting for me at the apartment building together with the landlord. He found this apartment for me and I am so thankful for that!

The street where I live (view from my balcony)

The landlord is a very nice guy, but told me that unfortunately that the apartment I rented at the 3rd floor of the apartment building was still rented to someone else! First I thought that he made a joke, but he was tremendously serious. ;-) The apartment on the 2nd floor was not rented, so I could stay there till mid October till this person at the 3rd floor left and then I can move. The apartments are both quite similar and for Dakar-standards very ‘high-end’, so I did not really care. :-)

The living room
Entrance and kitchen in the back
Saturday night I went with Bijou to her mother and we had a very nice dinner together. I just love to be among local people when I am in a foreign country, especially Africa, because it is the best way to get to getting to know the country. We had a quite interesting discussion about the terrorist attack in Nairobi. Bijou and her mother (both Muslims, like 94% of the Senegalese population) argued: “These Al-Shabab people are no Muslims, because the Quran tells us to love people, not to kill them!”

I decided to go back to my apartment early. I was a quite tired after a long day of travelling. Tiny detail: I took a taxi with many buckets filled with water that I put in the trunk, so I can use my toilet and wash my dishes. ;-)

Sunday morning I did some shopping in the supermarket with Bijou. I bought plates, cups and other things for my apartment. Afterwards, Bijou and I were cooking Senegalese food for almost four hours in the kitchen of Bijou’s mother. I love the way Bijou cooks, the way she cleans the fish with a machete, the spices and herbs she uses and how it smells. We made a Senegalese dish called thiebou dieune (red fish and rice). In Senegal, people don’t eat from their own plate as we are used to in Europe. There is just one big plate in the middle of the table (or on the floor), everyone gets a spoon and that’s it! ;-) I just love it.

Cooking Senegalese food with Bijou
Red fish and rice (thiebou dieune) 
After all, the first few days have been great. As I already experienced in May, the people are extremely nice and the Senegalese hospitality (teranga in Wolof – the Senegalese language) is amazing. Bijou and her family welcomed me as their own family member (many times they even call me ‘sister’) and I am very happy that I choose this country as a first case study.

I will keep you updated!

Warm regards,


Ps: By the way, my Dutch phone number does not work any more. If you want to reach or text me, please use my Senegalese number. Send me an e-mail if you want to know the number and I’ll e-mail the number to you.

1 comment:

  1. Annmurrie, wat gaaf! Fijn dat je zo goed bent opgevangen en dat je je zo welkom voelt. En je gaat tussendoor dus ook nog even verhuizen van etage naar etage?
    Heb honger gekregen van je bericht.