21 May 2012, Gail’s trip log

Today we were in Dakar, the capital city of Senegal – the farthest west point in Africa. It is a busy seaport. We actually arrived before 700 and since we were alongside on the starboard side (which our cabin is) I was able to sit on the balcony with my breakfast and watch all the activity of getting the ship secured, getting gangway out and set up, getting local officials onboard, and so on. All this usually takes about an hour. We didn’t have to go and wait for our tour until 830, so I had plenty of time to watch. There were no dancers on the dock today, but a group of locals came on board and performed at 400. We didn’t go to watch, but it will replay on TV for several hours tomorrow. The weather was nice, not too hot, but Dakar is a big city with lots of dust blowing in from the Sahara and some smog. We didn’t see the sun for an hour after sunrise, and then only faintly, and this strictly due to the dust in the air. We opted not to go out to Goree, the former slave island 3 miles out [after capture, slaves were kept imprisoned there until being shipped elsewhere]. Those that went said it was very good, but we had plenty to see and do with out four hour city tour and handicraft market [actually three of those ‘shopping opportunities’]. Traffic was bad, but we have seen worse. We also didn’t see many motorbikes here [or in Ghana, presumably since both of these countries are relatively “affluent” compared to Togo and Benin]. First stop was the presidential residence and office [actually a white house that looked very familiar], where we caught the changing of the guard. We may not see it in London but we saw it here. This was actually a French colony – the main governmental and trade center for all of French West Africa – and even played a role in WWII. Anyway, every place we stopped there were street vendors – some women with babies on their backs. They were selling all kinds of stuff. They were very aggressive everywhere, especially at the handicraft market, where they would grab your arm and try to pull you into their stall. We stopped for a photo op at the main mosque – this is a 90 percent Muslim country, then went to the towering and controversial “African Independence Monument” which is on a high hill, given to them by the government of North Korea. We drove to many parts of the city – there were street markets and vendors everywhere. We saw some French colonial buildings along with some modern ones. Dan bought a tshirt and 2 hats for himself and got a pretty blue caftan for me for ten dollars. I wore it to dinner. We also got a little African drum and a carved giraffe at very good prices as mementos of our visit to Africa. We were back to the ship by 130. After some lunch Dan went back out to a kiosk on the pier and got some postcards. We wrote out about 10 real quick and he went back down and got them mailed. Our sailaway was at 600, but we only went a few hundred yards to a fueling pier with huge oil and gas tanks on it. The captain came on and told us we would be getting about 200 tons of oil and then we would put out to sea when that was done. We had dinner and watched them getting hooked up to fuel about 700. They are still loading at 930, so we assume we will head out during the night sometime. Sea day tomorrow.

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