Tuesday, February 9, 2010

things you see (a lot of) in Dakar

A beautiful weekend, featuring late nights and a late afternoon making ataaya on the beach.  And now, as promised, a list of things that you will see a lot of in Dakar, if you ever decide to come visit.  Which you should, of course.

  • Bitiks and fruit stands. "Bitik" is "boutique" en Wolof, and they are tiny shops built out of metal with a proprietor and tall stacks of essentials: margarine, milk, Nescafe, candies, cookies, shaving cream, shampoo. At the fruit stands, the wares (oranges, apples, clementines, cantaloupe) sit in trays, looking appetizing, and the bananas (from green to yellow to brown) often hang off of a string or wire.
  • Trash.  You get immune to the sight of it.  Plastic bags caught on barbed wire almost look pretty.  And there are always torn up bits of 1000 CFA phone cards.
  • Taxis.  Peugeots and Volkswagens, in various states of new-ness, fill the streets of Dakar: some with fancy paint jobs (bold black letters saying ALHAMDOULILAH, "thanks be to God"), some with a furry tail trailing off the back, near the tailpipe (I don't know what it is, but it's probably there for luck).  And then there's all the other public transportation--colorful and dangerous cars rapides; big and brimming Dem Dikk buses; and more that I have never tried.
  • Jaff and phone cards.  "Jaff" is the name for peanuts toasted in a wide round pan and then packaged in tiny plastic bags that cell for about 25 CFA.  You often see women cooking it on the side of the street, and selling other kinds of nuts alongside it.  And as for the phone cards, you see vendeurs--usually young men--selling them, waving plastic page-covers full of the cards at passing cars and pedestrians.

    Finally, a picture or two:

    view of the monument from the top of la Phare, between all of the radio antennae

    one of the best desserts ever, at a restaurant on Ile de Goree
    grapes, pineapple, cantaloupe, and apple, drowned in bissap juice


    1. Dessert looks good; desert looks good! What does bissap juice taste like?

    2. Sweet, syrupy. Same color and consistency as grape juice, but with the sugar content of apple juice.