Thursday, July 3
Saint-Louis, Senegal

In Senegal, a beeping car usually means one of two things. If it’s a taxi, the driver probably wants your business. Otherwise, that beep likely means get out of the way.

Saint-Louis (see map) boasts another form of transportation: horse-drawn cart. Only the main roads here are paved. The rest consist of sand, dust and dirt.

The city has been a welcome break from Dakar. It’s smaller than the capital, more walkable and the air cools at night because the city is surrounded by water. Part of the city actually is an island, and the views of the Atlantic are quite beautiful.

I’m staying with Fallou at his friend’s house. It’s a two bedroom place with a kitchen, sitting room and terrace on the roof. I imagine this is the standard for middle-class Senegalese. The friend has a computer that Fallou and I have used to watch the television show Prison Break, subtitled in French, during the mid-day hours when it’s too hot to walk around. He also has a maid who cleans, cooks and does laundry several times a week, which Fallou tells me is normal for most single Senegalese.

One of the toilets is western-style, upright, the other African-style, with a hole in the ground and places for your feet as you squat. I know, I know, this isn’t a very good explanation. So I’ve taken a photo to help you out:

African-style toilet

There’s a tub on the wall just above the toilet with a cord you pull to flush, but apparently it doesn’t work. So to flush this toilet, we’ve been pouring, with some force, water down the hole.

I couldn’t figure this out on my own – the decoy cord had me going for a while – so I finally asked the maid how to do it. She showed me how to flush without laughing at me, which I appreciated. I’m guessing this won’t be the first time during my travels that I have to ask someone how to use the toilet.

Unfortunately, I’m unable to post most of my Saint-Louis photos. But I figured out what I did wrong, won’t make the same mistake again, and so you should expect more photos soon.