Dakar So Far

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The epitome of cool in the quaint village of Ngor near Dakar. This guy draws much of his fashion influence from a combination of West African rastafarian meets American bling rapstar (note the silver chain necklace in the shape of Africa). In each new place I have been, I have grasped diverse sentiments toward Americans and American culture. So far, I've gotten pretty positive responses in Senegal. In fact, I've found a lot of guys look up to their African rapstar bros in America. Do they resent them for moving from the motherland? Nahh...it's cool. Note the prayer beads he also holds, an ode to the Islamic faith in this strict Muslim country.

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Taking and navigating local transportation has become one of my specialties on this trip and I have loved the chaotic, confusing, exciting situations everywhere; it's a great chance to interact with locals carrying on with their daily lives without being in the role of a tourist, an exceptional people-watching experience, and a cheap mode of travel. I took the Car Rapide from Ngor Village to Dakar for 150 CFA, or 30 US cents, for the 1.5 hour ride. A guy hangs off the rear door and stands on the bumper yelling out the van's final destination. You yell back where you want to go and if they can stop there, you hop in via the back door and cram yourself somewhere wherever there is space. Not everyone here speaks French and since I don't speak Wolof I had to resort to my no-common-language methods of communication. Seemed to work out fine.

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There are coutouriers such as this one all over Ngor Village in addition to numerous textile shops in the village and textile markets in Dakar- a haven for fashion designers! Surprisingly, most of the sewers and "couturiers" I have seen here have been men- in most parts of the world this is a women's job. In this picture, this tailor works on a Mauritanian style men's dress. He was a nice guy.

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There are a lot of fusball tables just sitting out there in the sand/dirt streets and when the kids aren't playing football themselves they are playing fusball comme ici. Living conditions may be poor, and Senegal is low on the Human Development Index, but unlike some other poor countries I have been to on this trip, the children seem genuinely happy in the small villages. Instead of running up to me to beg me for money, they often just come to shake my hand or smile curiously at the weirdo foreigner. I'm not saying that they are well off in their condition- but their approach to life seems more to enjoy it than to suffer. It's really a wonderful atmosphere.

I’ve seen so many mindblowing mindfucking things on this trip. A lot of times I feel like I’ve seen the Ultimate Mindblower that I will never forget. And I know I have forgotten so many things that I swore never to forget when I saw it. I know these visions are somewhere back there, but stored in a way encompassed by the whole experience as opposed to a single memory that I can later pull out at parties when asked about my trip. There are a lot of hilarious things I see, too, often which I forget. One example is the garden I passed today named after Lady Oprah Winfrey.

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~ by ceciliabien on November 4, 2009.

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