My Senegal journey and how it changed my life

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I learnt a lot from the trip I made to Senegal. It is so true that when you travel, you learn!

That journey wasn’t my first nor second, to another African Country other than my home country, No, but it was the most memorable. I saw life and true beauty from another angle, as I stepped my feet onto the sands of Senegal.

 Now, let me share with you, 7 great lessons I learnt from that experience:

  1. Take life easy – It wasn’t hard for me to fall in love with Senegal’s ‘Take Life Slow and Easy’ philosophy. I found that it was their way of life…  life is slow paced and gentle, even their drivers drove slowly and gently. Oh my Gosh…comparing it to Lagos or Port Harcourt driving is like comparing tortoise speed with the antelope (Well this is a bit of an exaggeration). I found it refreshing to learn that life doesn’t need to be a hustle and bustle.

In fact think about this: I am used to a proverb in Igbo (my native language) that ‘Eme ngwa ngwa, emeghara odachi’ – literally meaning ‘when you do things fast fast, you will avoid problem’ ……equivalent of the English proverb, ‘A stitch in time saves nine’. And now in Dakar, I learnt of their own proverb, ‘ndank ndank mooy jaap golo ci naay’ (I apologize if I didn’t write it exact), which means to take life slowly slowly to avoid problem. Nice isn’t it?

  1. Gym on the streets – I was surprised to see lots of outdoor gyms on the streets, lots of people doing press ups, lifting weights… and then continuing their daily activities; jogging on the streets sidewalks, biking, just to incorporate exercise into their normal life routine. Dakar love fitness!

They have an amazing fitness culture…worth exporting! Beach workouts are a common sight. In the evenings, I saw lots of wrestlers, soccer players, athletes, men and women…..working out, jogging or running….doing crunches, press-ups, group sit-ups, squats, sprinting in reverse, e.t.c.

That is admirable, I mean you do not need to pay for a gym enrollment to be able to reap the benefits of fitness routine. And what is more, I can’t remember seeing any obese individual. There may be, but really they must be few that I didn’t even notice. Many of the men and women, were slender and well-built and I am sure that must translate to better health and less disease burden in their society. That has taught to be active physically in little ways! Yes, we need to be active, to be healthy.

3. Nature Heals – Yes I got an opportunity to sit, relax on the beach and marvel at the sunsets in Dakar. I now agree with these words ‘Get Lost in Nature and You will Discover Yourself’, ‘Spending Time with Nature is Healing Energy’. True Talk! Travelling helps you appreciate diversity.

Every corner of the world is truly endowed with rich jewels, breathtaking nature and great people. You need to see it to feel it. Words can’t describe the freshness of thoughts and feelings one experiences when you spare a moment to interact with nature. I spent valuable time at the beaches, idyllic palm studded beaches in Saly. It is even more pleasurable relaxing while sipping from a fresh coconut head.

my trip to Senegal

4. Strangers are only friends we’ve never met – I must warn you, dear reader….please do take these words with a pinch of salt. But really, the experiences I have had so far with strangers I met while travelling has been pleasant. I can’t forget strangers I met who offered assistance to me – someone they’d never met and probably never would again, without being asked, and asking for no favor in return.

If only I remembered their names, one young man particularly took it upon himself to advise me on the water to drink and one not to drink so as not to take ill. Another lady spent her time showing me around their foods, fruits and delicacies in her shop, even when I made it clear that I wasn’t shopping.

Senegal has got great places to see. I was at the infamous African Renaissance Monument.

Yes, I finally got a live opportunity to see and enter into the 49-meter African Renaissance Monument, which is Africa’s tallest statue.

my trip to Senegal

The main entrance to the monument is elevated up a huge flight of stairs. I have phobia for height and it was breezy given that it was on top of a hill. So climbing the stairs was a challenge for me, but I made it, you sure bet that I took lots of rest in-between! And finally I was at the top of the elevation…..really windy up there.

Now, i and my cousin made our way into the monument, impressive, breathtaking. In fact, just think that to get to the cap of the image, we had to use elevator… was a gigantic edifice.

my trip to Senegal

More things to love about Senegal

Dakar has the best fish meal, ever. They love fish, and of course they have fish. I came back with a sizable quantity of dried fish, it was such a delight. Once I was at a restaurant to eat…and then came this meal… freshly grilled fish with spicy tomato rice, cassava and carrot, with a gorgeous wine…..mehn! …. Delicious is an understatement! Their cuisine is influenced by North African, French and Portuguese culture as well. There are a variety of them….from Thiep dienne and Mafe to Yassa Poulet !

my trip to Senegal

Smile, if you know how to smile, then you will make friends already with the Senegalese. The people are welcoming, good-humored, friendly and hospitable… people who, despite living in resource-limited setting, are always smiling… Street parties were common once it was early evening, drumming, dancing, singing and merry-making.

my trip to Senegal

Have you ever seen buildings without roofs and buses without windows … I nearly laughed my heart out. It was fun, I mean seeing new things and new ways of life.

Humans must adapt, and use their natural resources to the fullest. The houses needed to be cold, so decked bricks are the best option. And why will the buses need to have windows when they told me, it rarely rains in Senegal (strictly my thoughts)?

You need to visit Senegal, really Dakar!

I ran out of a time, I wish I saw the historic “door of no return”. I was told that this door is still standing, bearing witness to a painful historical past. You may want to research more on this landmark!

If you planning a visit to Senegal, you may like to pack light, cotton clothing, mosquito repellent lotion, swim wear, sunscreen, beach hats, water bottles, good walking sandals.

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