Friday, October 2, 2009

Welcome to Dakar

I suppose some would say that our homecoming to Dakar was the worst welcoming possible.

Despite the 2 hour wait on the runway at JFK, we managed to enjoy the 8 hour flight to Dakar with constant smiles and pure excitement.

Rich had carefully organized transportation from the airport to our hotel as he knew the Dakar airport experience was quite scary. He followed up with our hotel driver with numerous phone calls and emails to ensure a car would be awaiting us, and not vice versa.

Because of the 2 hour delay to our flight, our driver was nowhere to be found. Rich and I had 6 suitcases and a guitar between us to manage.

Immediately after leaving the baggage carousel, we were surrounded by 10 men who were touching our bags and wanting to 'help'. It's amazing, not one person spoke a bit of English, but all saw the guitar and said 'Martin' with big smiles. It was quite alarming to see all of these men touching our bags; Rich stayed calm and politely discouraged their help.

This went on for an hour and a half, and complete darkness. Please keep in mind, that I am pregnant (with ankles the size of watermelons), jet lagged, sick with a cold, and scared to death of the goings on at the airport.

Finally, as the sun began to come up, our driver finally appeared. All of the men began to run with us, trying to grab our bags....always touching them in some way to remind us they were the ones that were 'helping'.

Our driver's car was extremely old and full of dents and rust. The trunk had to be wired shut. This car would have been scraps in the US.

After we were all loaded, Siso, a local Senegalese deemed himself to be 'in charge of our stuff'. He was quite friendly, and we got a good feeling from him. He decided he would escort us out of the airport in the taxi along with us.

And that's when the yelling began. The men outside the car began to yell at Richard as soon as the engine started. Not able to speak French or Wolof, I could not understand a word. They would not let him, or Siso, shut the car door. The driver began to drive...slowly at first just to scare them away, then faster and faster.

Rich still could not close the door as these men were running with our car and hanging on to the car door for dear life. Eventually the men fell to the wayside and the car was able to slow down which I was quite relieved about as we were not driving on smooth pavement, but rather a dirt track. Dirt tracks are far different from dirt roads; they are quite bumpy, littered with rocks, wrecked from flooding, and full of pot holes the size of bathtubs.

There were 2 thing I prayed for in the cab after that. 1. Not to vomit. 2. Not to cry.

No comments:

Post a Comment