Friday, July 1, 2011

40 cent baguettes and 10 dollar coconuts

I am on the "African Diet."  Carbs.  Shortly after arriving (well after my 6 hour nap) Alex and I ventured out into the humidity and construction that is Dakar, in search of sustenance to resolves my grumbling stomach.  I had heard that the bread in Senegal was particularly good since it is a former French colony and a baguette sounded like it would do the trick.  We headed out on a sidewalk that traces the ocean hoping that we would stumble across something delicious.  We wandered past dozens of half complete construction sites (a reoccuring scene here), past fruit stands stocked with mangoes and papayas, and children trying to entertain themselves while their mothers worked.  I was drenched in sweat by the time we found heaven, Grain D'or.  And grain of gold it was, complete with AC!  We got a baguette to share and the best part, a mere 40 cents we paid!  Two older ladies and a mother with her three children were sitting outside; when we walked out they began to ask us for some bread )or so we thought) and so we broke off half and gave it to them.  After making sure we were certain we really didn't want that half, they smiled and we walked on. When it costs 40 cents a loaf and is this good, I'll share it with the world, one loaf for everyone!

some of the coconut recipients
Downtown Dakar is quite a shock to the senses, and so, while we waited for our Gambian visas, Alex and I abandoned the crowded streets (where Alex got carried away bargaining for cologne) and headed towards the ocean.  Goats wandered freely, grazing on the little bits of green hidden by garbage and the sea birds squawked overhead.  Nearing three, we began to head back to the crowded streets and I asked Alex if he could please avoid trying to purchase unnecessary items.  Behind the presidential palace lies a tree in the middle of the road with a lion painted on it, we stopped to be tourists and take pictures and a gaggle of small boys on their way home from school walked past us.  Coming down the hill was a young boy carrying coconuts on his head.  The school boys got our attention, without much effort, all they really had to do was smile.  They wanted coconuts, a nice afternoon snack.  Alex and I could not resist their grins and eager faces and figuring that a coconut could not cost very much, we obviously obliged.  The boys did the negotiating, grabbing whatever they pleased.  If they looked at us for confirmation we said yes, we didn't care.  Before we knew it we were up to 1100 CFA (about $2.50) but all we had was a 5000 note (about $10).  The boy selling the coconuts did not have change, so coconuts for everyone! The poor vender could not keep track of all the little hands reaching for coconuts, so an older boy stopped to help add it all up.  I'm not sure we ever really figured out how much it actually was, but everyone got a coconut and we covered the bill.  I would say it was the best ten dollars I've ever spent.  After tasting a piece though, I decided I think I'll stick to my 40 cent baguette and the all carb diet. 

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