Dakar, “Pointe des Almadies”
It’s been a week today since landing in Dakar, an interesting week in many small but impactful ways.
Eva, my NGO manager has been very patient and supportive. She introduced me to Dr Amadou, the General Manager of the MDG West Africa office and to the rest of the staff. We also had opportunities to attend the weekly staff meeting here but also in a different call to listen in on discussion between Dr Jeffrey Sacks and the New York City staff regarding the preparation of the final evaluation of the 10-year Millennium Village Project. I’m here to help Eva on this project and I’m already getting a good sense of what’s ahead. But this will deserve more explanation and will be the subject of future blog messages.
In the meantime, let me introduce you to the area where I’m staying. I’m in a nice and cosmopolitan hotel and will transition soon into a longer term accommodation nearby. This triangular area is called “La Pointe des Almadies” (The tip of the Almadies). It’s the westernmost point of not only Dakar, but also Senegal and the whole African continent. So, yes, the ocean is very close.
As you arrive the area appears very busy and vibrant with taxis driving up and down the main 3 miles road in hope of picking up one of the locals or one of the many expatriates working in this area. It’s very humid and hot and even a short distance may call for a taxi ride (500 CFA/$1). After a few days at the office and exploring the area – walking along the main and secondary roads (both in very good shape) as well as venturing into the connecting dirt roads – you get the sense that it’s affluent relative to the rest of Dakar. A number of NGO’s have their West Africa offices headquartered here. You also find embassies and offices associated with development agencies and programs. All this generates some energy and demand for hotels and other infrastructure. Yet, it’s by no means the US or the EU. There is definitely a Senegalese flair to life here and there are many contrasts with buildings that evoke peace and quiet or business next to vacant lots where trash accumulates but which also serve as eating ground for wandering cows and bulls in search of some elusive green pasture.
So, a very nice area for African’s standards but with many contrasts that I’m looking forward to discovering further.
The US embassy is the building in the background with the foreground representing the construction zone for a Sheraton hotel to open later in 2015. I ended up later on striking a conversation with the 2 officers guarding the entrance post. One of them went to grab their lunch at a nearby (street vendor). They offered to share their dish with me, Chicken and rice, one of their local dishes. There was enough for the 3 of us – cost: 1,000CFA ($2), 5 times cheaper than the local cheapest joint. I’ll have to try on my own next time.
Eating joint by the ocean. Not the type of “beach” that you are used to…
Ngor, a small town a couple of miles away from Les Almadies.