Sunday, July 1, 2007


So here I am, finally in Senegal, after probably the most tiring trip of my life. I left Ottawa just after 6pm Friday night, and made it here about 11pm local time on Saturday (or 7pm Ottawa time - Dakar is 4 hours ahead). The plane in Montreal was overbooked by 50 people. They had to scramble to find seats on other flights. I had to go through customs in Heathrow, pick up my luggage and lug it to Terminal 4, which was a zoo because of a bomb threat / fire alarm (dont know which rumour was true) that morning. Then the next flight was delayed 2 hours. When I finallly got to Dakar, my luggage wasn't there!

In any case, the driver for the organization I'm working for - the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs' Integrated Regional Informqtion Network (IRIN) - sent their driver to pick me up from the airport. Thank God for that; otherwise I would have been lost in the sea of people.

Dakar is what you'd imagine it to be. Some streets paved, others not. Women carrying their babies on their backs, with bamboo sticks in their mouths. Vendors on the street, animals and laundry in the front yard. Haven't experienced any heckling - not like Morocco - but I'm not downtown, so I haven't seen the worst. Right now, I'm sitting in an internet café, surrounding by young Senegalese boys playing computer games. The keyboard isn't the same - so everything takes twice as long.

The weather is great actually - nice breeze, not too hot, the rains haven't started yet. I'm staying in a guest house right now. The owners are very nice. The husband, Orlando, says when it rains, the water can reach your waist within five minutes the downpour is so strong. I woke up this morning, came downstairs to find breakfast waiting (baguette, cheese, eggs sunny side up, and Nescafé). There's a girl staying here who also works at IRIN as a reporter. She just came back from a mission, as they call it, in Cote D'Ivoire. So discussion around the breakfast table centred around how the crisis there has benefitted other African countries (including Senegal), and why certain people may not want peace in Cote D'Ivoire. I've got so much to learn and fast!

Anyways, I'm pretty excited to be here, and to disocver the city, the people, everything.

Love you all back home and am thinking of you!
Pray that I get my luggage!


Al said...

reading your blog... I feel like I was there....NICE.... keep us posted.... Kamal

marwa awad said...

Salamat Adventurous Heba:

Glad to here you are safe and sound. Sorry about your lost luggage. Very inefficient but understandably so. I hope they give you clothes to wear as well until your stuff is found.

Inshaa Allah you enjoy every bit of this experience. Let's hope you've got a camera on you to document visually what goes on around you. You can always get one if you don't have one on you. I imagine the currency exchange rate is sooooo huge that a Canadian dollar goes a long way.

Your entry reminds me of another adventurous expedition into Africa. It is a film I saw years ago and it is called "Out of Africa" More on the Romantic but definitely captures the African experience.

Fi Aman Allah

Marwa Awad