I had planned for Saturday to be the day I went to the fabric market to purchase the fabric I would have made into clothes while I stay in Dakar. But when I woke to a text message from Brenda asking if I wanted to join her, Larson, Janis, and Ben for a day on the beach, I quickly changed my mind and responded with a resounding, “Yes!” We agreed to meet at the “launching beach” at 11:30am.
For most people staying in Dakar, the taxi to N’gor should be between 1,000 – 3,000 CFA depending on your location in the city. My apartment is in the middle of the businesses and residences west of the airport, which is approximately a 15 minute taxi ride to the northern part of the peninsula where the “launching beach” is. Once we arrived in the parking lot, people immediately started asking us if we wanted tickets, etc. for the island. We thanked them and walked past them, finding Brenda et al. on the beach waiting for us to arrive.
The tickets for a round-trip boat ride to the island are 500 CFA. You can see the island immediately, as it is quite close to the shore of Dakar. My translator even said that sometimes people will swim it instead of taking the boat – not me. Boat, please.
The way to get over to the island is by wooden boats with motors attached to the end. The boat men made sure we all had life vests first, though. Then, we waded into the ocean (take off your shoes – wear sandals or flipflops to make your life easier) and climbed into the boat. The seats are actually planks of wood spaced about 1 1/2 feet apart along the inside of the boat, so prepare to get cozy with the neighbors!
I must mention that there was a Senegalese couple on the boat sitting directly in front of me and the woman was in a traditional-style, lime green Senegalese dress without the hair wrap. She had to be assisted onto the boat, but got her skirt wet just like everyone else. I can’t imagine how hot she must have been – the fabric didn’t look very breathable. But she looked fabulous!
The boat ride itself didn’t take more than 5 minutes, and we were hopping out onto the beach and handing over our life vests. Of course, immediately someone walked up and tried to start selling us things, but we put on our shoes and left the beach to explore. We walked inland toward a special cliff area they had seen on their trip 2 days prior.
That massive white building on the mountain behind me is a lighthouse. We drove past it in the taxi, and apparently you can take tours of it. It is also very close to the national sculpture monument that Dakar is famous for:
After a while, the women who owned the “cafe” next to our chairs walked over with a bowl of freshly caught fish and asked if we wanted to order lunch. We each chose our preferred fish, and waited quite some time for our lunch to be ready. I wish that I could have taken a picture of the fish we were choosing from, but it’s hard to take pictures here without building report with the person involved.
NOTE: If you are someone who is always in a hurry, Senegal will quickly cure you (or drive you insane – you pick). There is something here called “Senegalese Time,” which is whatever pace people decide it is. We ordered our lunch around 12:30pm, and I think we ended up eating sometime around 2pm.
The food was AMAZING. I’ve never had such fresh fish, and it was blackened nicely from being cooked on her open fire grill not 5 yards from where we were relaxing.