Text and Photographs by Nelly Keita,
At creamhotel, being a traveler is a lifestyle. Our team is always “on the road”, exploring new cities, discovering native customs, meeting local people… and so are our blog contributors. This is precisely what Nelly Keita did this summer: she traveled to Senegal. This country of West Africa lies between arid desert lands in the North and lush tropical forests in the South. From the capital, Dakar, to Saint Louis, Nelly crossed this amazing region witnessing stunning landscapes, pristine beaches but also more hidden and untold aspects. This is her story:
“I have been to several developing countries, where kids beg for money, where literacy rate is low and life isn’t easy but I truly saw misery in Senegal. Still, what stroke me most, I’d say, is the kindness of its people, and the beauty of its land..!
Even though Senegal is sometimes shown as an inspiring democratic example, it is far from being an economic model. The gap between the rich and the poor seems to further deepen and in the capital, the quality of life for most continues to decrease with the rapid population growth of the city. Despite all that, the people have managed to remain incredibly warm and welcoming. In the 3 weeks I spent there, I can affirm that I have not run into one single person that was rude or disrespectful. They offer large smiles and are incredibly polite.
In Dakar, the capital, tourists are greeted with "Bonjour toubabs” (non-pejorative term for Occidentals), and are often the targets of market or street vendors, as they see in them potential moneymaking opportunities. Therefore their insistence can be a bit annoying to deal with on a daily basis but their kindness and respectful upbringing keeps them from ever getting impolite. They acknowledge with a smile “we are like flies but we don’t bite”… Dakar is full of colorful markets (fabric, local art and jewelry, fruit and vegetable…) not to be missed.
The city is surrounded by water and has amazing beaches, which could be oh so nice if not as polluted. The city garbage collection system is a disaster so people tend to throw everything on the streets or shores. This gives the city a peculiar smell and in times of heavy rain pedestrians enjoy a colorful foot-bath.“
TO BE CONTINUED
Contrast between beautiful and dirty beaches
Below: Traditional Senegalese art (illustrations made only using sand from different parts of the country).
Below: Senegalese street art (wall painting and a man "campaigning”).
Below, street market in Dakar