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  • Trish

Christmas Craziness in Dakar

I had to go downtown Dakar in search of a drip filter coffee machine this afternoon. No Amazon Prime here.

It was the same craziness that is happening all over America right now. Traffic is bumper to bumper, lines are ridiculously long. Who would have thought it in a country where 95% of the population is Muslim. But here they are Sufi Muslims and they embrace all of our holidays and join in enthusiastically.

Sitting in over an hour of traffic to get to the one store I was told would have this particular coffee machine, I asked my driver a few questions. This was after I had tried to find the coffee machine online and had been sidetracked reading other pages about Dakar. It’s worth reading his answers. The difference between what I had read and his answers may be the difference between living in a big city v living in remote areas.

Interview with my driver

Q: When a woman gets married does she have to wear a scarf around her head? (I read online that they do.)

A: No no no

Q: Are you allowed to have more than one wife? (I had just read that here they could have up to 3 wives.)

A: Yes we can have up to 4 wives. But it is very expensive to support that many wives. But we can take a ... pause while he looked up the word on Google Translate on his mobile phone... mistress.

Q: Isn’t a mistress expensive too?

A: I don’t think so. I don’t have a mistress, I like to be with my family.

(His current wife is his second wife because he divorced his first wife, “she was too much of a problem for me”.)

Q: Isn’t having a mistress against your religion?

A: My religion is in my heart. Muslims in Senegal are not like Muslims in any other country. We are very peaceful.

Q: Not like Al Quaida?

A: They are not Muslim. Muslim religion says you cannot kill another person.

Q: Do you give each other presents at Christmas?

A: Oh yes! That is why everybody is out today, and the traffic is so bad, everyone is buying Christmas presents.

Q: What are you buying your wife for Christmas?

A: Nothing, not enough money to buy her a present.

Q: What are you buying your kids?

A: My son (16) a tablet so he stops using my phone to play games; my daughter (5) and my Mom (82) clothes and shoes.

We finally got to the store, found what we wanted in 10 minutes and then stood in line for almost an hour!

A woman and her son were talking behind us and when I have been away from Australian accents, I often mistake South African accents for Australian.

I asked the woman if her accent was South African and she said she was born there but grew up in Australia.

Where in Australia? Sydney!!

Ha, my home town!

She has been living in Dakar for the last ten years now and has an art gallery here. She gave me her card.

And she invited me to a party she is holding on Christmas evening.

After that we went looking for local shea butter.

While we were walking along the streets dodging getting run over by cabs (!!!) my driver told me he knew this woman from 3 years ago when she had interviewed him for a position as their family’s driver, but he wasn’t interested because he wanted to work for a company.

Such a small world!

We found the Shea butter!!!

You can buy it by the piece that she cuts off or buy it in a plastic container. I opted for the plastic container.

1,000 XOF which is US$1.80 and I’m not sure how much is in the container.

Look how creamy white it is. The Shea butter I buy in the US is usually darker and smells a bit like cocoa butter, I suspect it is actually a blend, but who knows. I think it usually comes from Ghana. This has no smell of cocoa butter.

Update: I take that back. Just scooped some out to melt down and it does have a cocoa butterish smell to it.

So this is my haul today

A stick blender 40,000 XOF (US$72), a huge bar of handmade coconut milk soap 1,000 XOF (US$1.80), a bottle of Baobab Oil ( don’t remember how much that was).

I can’t make soap but I can make body butter!

Of course I brought essential oils with me so I’m going to add some Lavender. I’m so excited to be able to make something! It’s been two weeks!

All in all a really productive afternoon. Loving this job!

It’s been foggy all day and probably will be tomorrow too so instead of going to Goree Island tomorrow, we are going to Bandia Reserve. It’s only about 60 kms out of Dakar.



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