Dakar coastline from Ouakam neighborhood
  • You won’t find decorative license tags. But once you learn the system of colors and  numbers, you can decode whether the vehicle belongs to a government or humanitarian agency and from which country.

But you will find Wolof and Arabic blessings stenciled all over the taxis in Dakar. I like to think of them as painted bumper stickers letting you know which Islamic brotherhood and imam the person favors.


  • You won’t find heel straps on sandals. I’m guessing this has to do with needing to be able to take them off easily when you go into someone’s home, but could also be that sizing can be less exact when you allow your heel to hang off the back of your shoe.

But you will find a ridiculously high percentage of women wearing glittery high-heeled sandals, despite the deep sand and uneven pavement.


  • You won’t find crushed ice.

But you will find two teeny ice cubes in your glass when you order a drink at a restaurant. They aren’t too far off from ice slivers.

Also, now that it’s hot season, you can buy frozen bottles of water on the side of the road. Cold and refreshing? Yes. Clean water and bottle? It’s a gamble.


  • You won’t find traffic lights. This is probably a good thing, due to the power cuts.

But you will find policemen directing traffic at intersections. And sometimes they actually help make it flow better. Sometimes.


  • You won’t find those little ‘don’t sue us’ labels on to-go cups that let you know the beverage is HOT.

But you will find spraypainted messages on bridges, walls, medians, etc… letting you know how people feel about the rather hot political situation.


  • You won’t find KFC restaurants. Even though they are expanding across Africa to 1,200 stores in South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Angola and Zambia by 2014.

But you will find the Senegalese equivalent of Starbucks and take-out. Just remember to BYO bowl with a lid!