Île de Gorée (Sénégal) photo album

There is nothing I would recommend of Dakar. My Mexican friend Rocîo, whom I met there, and me had the same feeling: the word Dakar has something that makes it sound like the name of an amazing city. I didn’t really know what would be so interesting, but I was eager to see. I failed to find any wonderful thing and I’d actually advise to use it just as a landing port in West Africa. It doesn’t have the appeal of other African cities and has all what’s awful in them, but made worse because of its location in a narrow peninsula: the people, the dirt, the traffic, the dense pollution, everything is caged in a few square kilometres.

But for one thing: Île de Gorée, Gorée island. For political and business reasons, the Senegalese exaggerate its role in the steal of millions of Africans by the slave ships. It wasn’t so important. But it’s beautiful anyway, with its feeling of colonial decadence. And a great relief after a few days in Dakar.

Its main official sight is the Maison des Esclaves, the houses of slaves, which was renovated by someone without the slightest idea of art and time. Not worth it. In the other hand, what’s not meant to be a tourist attraction is lovely, as residences in ruins where you can explore and hear the whisper of the centuries past.

Arriving to the island you may feel you are in the Caribbean: the colonial French buildings, the locals idle by the quay, the sleepy gendarme. Life seems just normal, not made-up for tourists, except for the artisans and their works. In the early 20th century, the French fortified the island and now the bunkers and cannons have been transformed in humble ateliers and galleries.

This I recommend: land in Dakar, go straight to Gorée, enjoy it and head off elsewhere.

December 16th, 2010

01 February at 15:05 ·  ·  ·  · Share


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