I arrive in Lisbon in the rain. I arrive in Dakar in the rain. I’ve never seen Senegal during the wet season.
Unable to find my driver, I run around attempting to negotiate taxi fares in French-Wolof. Eventually a dude agrees. The roads are flooded, it’s raining through the roof of the car, and there is absolutely no visibility.
By the time I arrive at where I’m staying, everything is wet. I strip down to my shorts at the check-in desk as the night porter leafs through my wet passport. The scene is rather amusing.
This morning, I find my clothes and shoes are still wet. I have breakfast and wait for my shared taxi to take me to Saint-Louis to meet Issa.
Last night I was apprehensive: I drank too much, both at Lisbon airport and on the plane. I watched two episodes of Cold Feet (It seems bizarre seeing Manchester on television flying over Africa). Then we landed. Today I am not apprehensive at all. Apart from the rain, which has made everything green like I’ve never seen Senegal before, everything in Yoff seems the same as ever. Being here feels comfortingly usual. This is partly because I’ve been here several times before.
It’s also partly because of my period of transition in Lisbon. With Senegal on my mind during my day in Lisbon, I found similarities between Portugal and Senegal: The large metal bridge in Lisbon reminding me of Saint-Louis’ Pont Faidherbe; the waiter from Guinea-Bissau serving my lunch; the square, patterned, white-grey functionalist architecture (yet nonetheless beautiful). These similarities may exist only in my mind, but they served to reframe my focus in Lisbon not only on historic beauty but also on modern structures. Doing so produced the below pictures.
Who’d have thought a bit of volunteering in 2006 would leave me with some lifelong friendships, an interest in development, and speaking French ‘like a black man’?
Senegal, we met eleven years ago, and I’ve not seen you for five. But I’m on my back.