TIA – This Is Africa

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I’m back from my week of surfing in Senegal. The waves were pretty decent and I was enjoying some long rides towards the end of the week.

The surfing really was an aside to the whole experience. It was my first time in Africa proper, having previously only been to Morocco and Mauritius. The new sights and sounds were invigorating and I’ve come away with a profoundly changed outlook on certain aspects of my life.

Happiness is widespread. Senegalese are friendly, talkative and, as I have mentioned previously, very used to foreigners living in Dakar. The area around Yoff beach is very safe because it’s the territory of the Layen people who are traditionally fishermen and more strictly Muslim than other tribes – Alcohol is difficult to buy in public.

The sedentary way of life and loss of sense of time and routine contributed to me feeling the most relaxed I have felt in years. A vigorous surf session followed by a lazy lunch chatting to fellow surfers then lying on the beach reading a book was heaven on earth.

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Initially the lack of punctuality was irritating but once you get into that African rhythm, you start to chill out and just roll with things.  Speaking of rhythm, I went along to an opening of a new restaurant/nightclub in Yoff and there was a fantastic Senegalese band playing. The music was incredibly addictive, the drums were made of upturned seed shells the size of a wok. The beat was so engaging that everyone on our table was playing along on the table or clinking bottles together.

The eclectic mix of people I met and the things they were doing really threw my mind into turmoil. I met a French Canadian girl who had been teaching in a village in the middle of nowhere, an Italian guy working for an oceanography company, plenty of NGO/United Nation workers who have made Dakar their home. They all oozed happiness. They were obviously loving living in the moment and enjoying all that Senegal has to offer.

The pull to chuck in my secure, well paid job in London and move out there to work was pretty intense. Work tomorrow will surely stamp out any silly ideas like that…

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