Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Getting used to the Senegalese life

The past days I settled down in Dakar. I am getting used to the African rhythm and my new life. It is quite a contrast with my life back home, not to speak of my visit to New York a few weeks ago where I was walking on 5th avenue with my high heels and pretty dresses. But that is exactly why I love my job, having the opportunity to live in both worlds. I enjoy living in both of them and I do not prefer on over the other. 

I felt in love with Africa a while ago. I like the African way of life. Every time when I arrive in an African country, it doesn’t matter whether it is Morocco, Egypt, Rwanda, Kenya, South Africa, or somewhere else, it has something magic. I can’t explain it, but I just love the different cultures, the people, their clothes, the climate, the smell of spices, and so on. I learn so much from the people in Africa, especially in terms of their way of life.

My apartment in Dakar is a really nice place and I feel at home there. The neighbourhood is very nice with a lot of small shops, where I go in the morning to buy une petite baguette or fruit for breakfast. Yes, the French influence is still present, not only the language (most people in Dakar speak French and Wolof or one of the five other major national languages - pulaar serer, diola, soninke and madinka - only some speak English) but also in daily life.   

Since autumn started back home and I know it is inappropriate to complain about the weather, it has been quite hot the past days in Dakar. I haven’t seen any rain so far, although the rain season officially did not end (it is supposed to end the end of October). It is however very humid; the temperature is 32 degrees during the day and around 26 during the night. I have no airco in my apartment, so you can imagine that my fan Kenedy is my best friend. ;-)

Let me introduce to you: Kenedy
At the same time, there is still a notorious problem of water shortage in Dakar due to a power failure. Half of the city does not have running water, almost for three weeks now. It is becoming quite serious and people are getting crazy. People are talking about water everywhere you go: the bus station, in the taxi, at cafes, restaurants, on the street, etc. It is so hot in Dakar and people do not have (or cannot afford) water to drink. You see people on the streets carrying water everywhere. People are getting less patient and sometimes they even aggressive to one another.

I am so glad that I can refresh myself these hot days with water in Bijou’s house. Every night I fill buckets of water in the house of Bijou and carry it to my apartment to wash my dishes and flush the toilet. As you can imagine, the price for bottled drinking water is going sky-high. I bought yesterday six bottles of water and people were watching me quite anxiously when I was walking on the street with these six bottles. I don’t know how long this water-drama will continue, but next time I’ll take a taxi for my own safety! Of course I am aware that I have the luxury that I can afford to buy this expensive water, while many people living in this city just can’t… The hospital in Dakar is also located in the area where there is no water. Pregnant women who are going to give birth in the hospital are asked to bring their own water. Dakar residents have bathed in the ocean. I am afraid that people will die if they do not repair the water pipe to Dakar soon… Then it is only a minor issue that I would love to wash my with dust and sand riddled hair. ;-)

Research-wise everything is going well. The past days I worked on my questionnaire and wrote my letter of consent. I am reading several reports that I collected in May to prepare my interviews. I am planning to have the first interviews next week. Most days I worked from home.

Reading a report on my balcony

Tuesday was a very hot day and although my fan Kenedy was trying very hard, it was too hot in my apartment to work. I decided to go to the Institut Français du Sénégal instead. This institute is a place with a very nice atmosphere where lots of cultural activities are organized. When I was here in May, a lady from the Netherlands Embassy took me there for lunch and of course I wrote it down in my little notebook. ;-) Apart from a cinema and arts centre, there is also a very nice restaurant and cafe (with wifi!) where I worked on my questionnaire.

The street where the institute is located.  
Working on my letter of consent.
Restaurant of the French Institute.
Garden of the French Institute.
As you can read, I arrived safely in Dakar and I really enjoy myself. Every night I cook together with Bijou and we eat together with her mother (since the gasbottle of my cooker is empty and not yet replaced by a new one by the landlord). Never mind, it is nice not to eat by myself and have nice company in the night, especially my first week. ;-)

I keep you updated! 

Warm regards,


1 comment:

  1. Hi,
    Bonjour! :)
    Hope your Phd is going well. This is Suhail from India, done my Masters in Health, Hospital and Pharma Management. I am a Phd aspirant, so would like to meet up if you can spare some time...