Palmarin – A Deserted Beach at the End of the Road

“How do we get back to Dakar?” we wondered as soon as we got off the sept-place taxi. Palmarin, the small seaside village on the border of the Siné-Saloum Delta looked like the end of the world – a boring hole. It didn’t matter that it had taken us six hours on potholed roads to get there, and that the last hour the taxi had been stuck in the middle of a field in torrential rain. We just wanted to leave. But with no taxis going back before next morning, we had no choice but to stay.

Half an hour later we were sitting atop a flat, horse-driven carriage, taking us through the flooded streets of the seemingly deserted village. We rode across a deep, seasonal river and the along an endless stretch of a perfectly white beach to the isolated cluster of huts of the Yokam hotel.

As soon as we saw our surprisingly clean and comfortable hut, we changed our minds about Palmarin. It might be the most peaceful place in the world, and extremely boring as such, but it might just offer the rest we so badly needed. And no hustlers as far as you could see! After a cold Flag beer accompanied by a grilled fished and a fresh salad had restored our energies, we started to feel quite comfortable among the flooded huts.

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That night Francois, the owner of Le Yokam, invited us to a party. All the female singers and dancers of Palmarin had gathered to celebrate the height of the rainy season. We sneaked into the candle-lit hut where the ladies were drinking beer, singing, dancing and drumming the night away. But pretty soon I was pulled onto the dance floor, where I shook my butt in my best improvisation of a West African dance.

Before going to sleep, Eduardo and I decided to wade through puddles past bushes and trees to the beachfront, guided only by the moonlight. We sat down on a bench, watching the waves coming in higher and higher with the tide. The fresh wind cooled us from the daily heat, as the sweet smell of salty water refreshed us. A shadow of a horse and carriage drove by in the dark, neighing a quiet hello.

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Reluctantly, we sauntered back to our steaming hot hut, where we tossed and turned until morning, dreaming of air conditioning…

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