This article was first posted on the Afro Tourism website.
I was determined to get a taste of Dakar’s nightlife. Bamba had assured me on the plane that the city never sleeps and I eagerly looked forward to the fun and experience, since I only had that night before heading on to Saly the next day.
It was still too sunny by 16:00hrs, and I wanted to get to Ngor. I called Bamba’s number and someone picked and told me he was asleep. I had met Bamba, a Senegalese who works in Nigeria on the flight from Lagos. We sat next to each other and we struck up a conversation about the delayed departure and the nonchalant attitude of the airline.
It was a night flight and coupled with the delay, we had a stopover in Banjul before touching down in Dakar at well past 02:00. I would have been ripped off by the cabbies at the airport while trying to get to hotel, as they rattled off in Wolof, leaving me perplexed. Thankfully Bamba rescued me. He negotiated with one of the cabbies and dropped me off, giving me his number before continuing his journey.
I went out on a brisk city tour around 11:00, after a 6-hour sleep which didn’t come to me until around 05:25. After the tour which lasted about two and a half hours, I ordered room service and took a nap. I waited another hour before leaving the hotel. By 17:00, the harsh glare of sun was all gone and I set out to the beach in my jeans jacket, as the evening temperature dropped. It was not so far and I could sail to Ngor Island and back before it gets dark, I thought. Besides, those pirogues ran on motor engines.
I strolled along Rue de l’Aéroport, detoured at Hôtel le Virage, and got down to the beach. I remembered the two guys I met earlier in the day when the taxi took me to the beach, Samba and Souleymane. Although the latter was the first to latch on to me, he spoke no English, while Samba came along and told me about the Lebou tribe and Île de Ngor. I would have gladly jumped on a pirogue and sailed to the island right there and then, but I didn’t know what to do with the cabbie. So with a promise to return, I took their numbers and left.
I had called Samba the Lebou and told him I was coming before leaving the hotel; but now I can’t seem to find the right spot. The Atlantic coast spread along for miles and I must have misjudged the distance from the hotel, having arrived there in a cab. A quick glance around and I realized this was not the place I was looking for. This was not Plage de Ngor. I couldn’t see any island from the shore. This was Plage du Virage, instead.
Some youths were playing soccer on the beach. It was quite windy and the evening was already getting cold. I had my camera around my neck, and was admiring the waves when a guy spoke behind me. Show no fright! That was my first instinct. He looked rough. He could be a Senegalese version of an ‘area boy’ as we call them in Nigeria…
…to be continued.