Hi! Welcome. I know, it’s crazy hot and muggy this time of year. No, it really does get better – right hand pinkie promise. (You’ll learn soon enough never to do anything with your left hand and why…) But yeah, around the end of October it will get even hotter, but the air will be super dry and still. Almost creepy still. It’s miserable for two weeks, but you know that means that cooler weather is on its way in. And by Christmas I’m betting you’ll have even worn a light sweater or jacket a couple times. Trust me, by the end of spring you’ll be thinking 70 degrees is downright nippy!
That’s the thing about life in Dakar: the things that drive you crazy will either change or change you. Sometimes both.
The grocery items that seem so foreign to you (for a good reason – they are) and limited compared to ‘back home’ will become the ones you rely on. You’ll learn a few tricks (strained lait caillé in a coffee filter = Greek yogurt) and substitutes (no peaches, but amazing mangoes) and there will definitely be some compromising, but hopefully you’ll also discover some new favorites and become grateful for what we do have available. If this is ever challenging, just talk with an expat living in Thies or Saint-Louis or the “Tambacounda metropolitan area”.
Yes, in the midst of all the things you may find yourself suddenly living without (electricity, water, heart friends, Target, pepperoni…) you will become grateful as you look around.
That’s a good piece of advice, by the way. Look around. Ask pirogue-loads of questions, but do so respectfully. I find opening with a ‘how’ question is often kinder than a ‘why’ question. ‘How do you…?’ vs. ‘Why don’t you…?’ Make it a goal to learn something new every day, bës bu nekk.
Yes, it really is THAT important to learn some Wolof. If you don’t learn any, your life will certainly go on. But the day you throw out a Wolof greeting to a vendor or taxi man, you’ll see the difference in the response you get. Smiles! Better prices! Blessings and prayers for you to have many children!
Try to put yourself in the pointy tied slip-ons of others and see if there is a way that you can work together to make your new corner of the world a better place.
After all, this is your new home. And even if you can’t believe it right now when everything seems unfamiliar and crazy and sweaty, Dakar will overtake your heart faster than those ants taking over your kitchen.
Some helpful starting points for digging into Dakar…