Dakar – Paris a L’Africaine

It might not be as charming, beautiful or romantic as Paris, but you can’t help but draw a sigh of relief when entering Dakar from the Sahel. Civilization at last! There are normal restaurants, pubs, grocery stores and even shopping malls. The high end stores are really expensive (way out of our budget) and the luxury hotels actually live up to international five-star standards. In its white-washed gown it is perhaps more like Lima, Peru than anywhere in Europe, still Dakar is organized, modern, pretty clean and just plain nice.

On the beaches in Northern Dakar, young men strut their stuff and show their strength by wrestling, covered in white sand. The girls, fully dressed of course, walk flirtily along the beach in flowing African dresses. People play football, beach volleyball, jog and swim – the Senegalese are way more healthy and fit than any of their West African neighbors. And to silence a grumbling stomach; there are plenty of beach side stalls that sell freshly grilled seafood for only a few dollars. Life here can feel pretty darn good!

But just as you sit down to eat a nice grilled fish, or lay down to sleep in your air-conditioned room, the electricity goes. And it doesn’t come back. For hours and hours.

Dakar’s biggest flaw is definitely the electricity shortage. Everyone blames it on corruption, but nobody really knows. So, sooner rather than later, you will feel the need to flee “civilization”. Luckily there are plenty of small towns along the coast in which to coop up, where electricity matters less due to fresh winds and dependable light from kerosene lanterns.



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