Dakar: The Good, The Bad, The Beautiful

Kelila Johnson
July 9, 2013

OK, so apart from being completely eaten alive by mosquitoes and virtually melting from the humidity, I really enjoyed Dakar…once we got our accommodations in working order.

The ocean is gorgeous, and you can see it from almost anywhere.  Our residence hall was a block from the beach and I never got over the view!

We took a bus tour on our first day that included a park that I didn’t catch the name of, but the lake was pretty.


There is a ginormous and slightly kitschy statue that we visited.

But it is definitely Sub-Saharan Africa. The poverty we witnessed was…inexpressible.  And one feels so powerless to do anything about it.  There are shanty towns built of plywood and scrap metal, and our visit to the market left its impression on everyone – we are so spoiled in the U.S. to climate controlled markets with meat neatly packaged and kept cold, that we don’t realize how rare that is in the rest of the world.

Another interesting, not bad, just interesting, facet of the trip was the first-hand experience of being the HIGHLY obvious racial minority. If I thought I stuck out like a sore thumb in Rabat, it is nothing to Dakar.  I really loved that experience, it helps me begin to comprehend my white privilege back in the States.

But the highlight of the trip for me was the visit to Ile de Gorée. Whether you think it was a major slave port or not, it was heartbreaking to see the Maison des Esclaves: to see how people treated their fellow man before they even boarded the slave ships.

Ile de Gorée, as a huge tourist trap, was also the most exhausting day-trip.  You bargain for everything, and the vendors are VERY agressive in their attempts to interest you in their wares. We all bought some really beautiful art, but I think everyone was on edge from all the “non, merci’s” that were spoken that day (not to mention the universal sunburn).

But it has some very beautiful views.



Overall it was a good trip, and I wouldn’t be opposed to returning.  The people are extraordinarily friendly.  But it IS nice to be back in reasonable weather, not having to fight off vampiric insects every night. Give and take.

A bientôt!!

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Kelila Johnson

<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">My name is Kelila Johnson. I am a third-year student at Pitzer College majoring in International &amp; Intercultural Studies with a regional emphasis on the Middle East and North Africa. I also work full-time as the manager of the campus coffee shop. I have been active in college governance, serving on committees in my capacity as a staff member and I am a proud member of Student Senate, where I represent the &quot;New Resources Students&quot; who are the non-traditional student population at Pitzer. In my free time I catch up on sleep, go to Disneyland, watch movies, read, and spend quality time with my cat. I love to travel, and I&#39;m looking forward to improving my French language skills and experiencing a culture quite different from home.</span></p>

2013 Summer 1, 2013 Summer 2
Home University:
Pitzer College
International Studies
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