Saturday, June 20, 2009

Dakar is Different

So when we got to Dakar 2 days ago, we immediately noticed how things were different just by the way the immigration guys gave us a hard time. In Rwanda, the immigration officials kind of looked at our passport, flipped through it to check out the visas from the different places, and stamped it. Here, the guy barked at me and interrogated me about where in Mboro I was going before Eli rescued me by telling the officer something about the Peace Corps in Dakar.

Speaking of the Peace Corps, I am so glad that they're our NGO. They're providing us with cars to drive the laptops up to Mboro, they're talking to customs for us and just making our lives a lot easier. We've been sleeping at the regional house (which is a little Peace Corps hostel that volunteers stay at when they come into Dakar for whatever reason) and all the PCV's there are a bunch of wonderfully skeptical and hilarious people. I have now heard more stories about sept-places (station wagons with 7 seats in them) than I would ever want to. Some crazy stuff goes on in Senegal and Mauritania - trucks tipping over on the way to Guinea, a little bit of pyrotechnics, goats being strapped to the roofs of cars, etc. Most people really love their sites, though it is slow going for everyone. There is no pill that will make Africa "better".

Going back to Dakar, people are a little more aggressive here - somebody is always trying to sell you something on the street, or trying to get you into a taxi. It's pretty dirty here, people just throw trash into the street or spit out the window. However, the food is definitely better than Mauritania. They have great baguettes, just like France, so the sandwiches are quite good and cheap. (the exchange rate is 450 CFA to 1 dollar). Yesterday, I ate a bean sandwich for breakfast for 150 CFA, then ate an egg sandwich for lunch for 300 CFA, then ate 2 goat (or lamb? counldn't tell) sandwiches for 500 each for dinner. So total that's 1450 CFA, which is like 3 bucks for food for an entire day. Pretty crazy, not going to lie.

On Monday we're going out to Mboro to settle into our apartment, meet Devon, and start doing what we came here to do. From what all the Peace Corps Volunteers say, Mboro is quite beautiful, so I'm pretty psyched about going. We'll see what the actual situation in the school is when we get there. From what I heave from PCV's, kids don't speak a whole lot of French - it could be a problem, but we don't know yet.

That's what's going on - give us a call at (+221) 77 358 7498 or shoot us an email/comment on the blog if you want to get in touch.


  1. All the best in Senegal! There's another team (not part of OLPCorps Africa) that's in Keur Sadaro.

    Keep writing and keep taking pics. You are making history!


    PS: For those who would like to follow OLPCorps Africa teams, here's a consolidated feed page.

  2. Hey James,

    Uncle Jay here. Pretty cool blog you got going. I'm from the ice age so don't really blog much but I can email better than you college kids and I challenge any of your mates on typing on my blackberry! Glad to hear you're doing well. All is fine here. Hub's coming to visit us tomorrow and then going to see Nat and Andy at his graduation. I'll likely be in Boston on Thursday but if plans change, as they might, I'll try to make it. Keep safe and enjoy those goat sandwiches. I imagine they taste somewhat like chicken!



  3. The challenge is about to start!! good luck guys!! I think you are more than prepared for this!