Going to Senegal was like a dream; it went by so fast I’m still having a hard time believing it happened. One moment I was on a plane to Dakar, then in the blink of an eye (eight days to be exact) I was back in the States. When I first landed in Dakar, I was whisked away (by my boyfriend) to Ngor Island, a tiny island less than one mile off the coast of Dakar’s Peninsula. Although the trip to Ngor was short, about 10 minutes, it was quite the excursion. We purchased boat tickets from a nondescript man walking around the beach then stood by the shore and waited for the boat. Once the boat arrived they handed us orange life vests and we hopped on board a 20-passenger single engine boat and cruised across the ocean. It was nearly impossible to climb in and out of the boat without getting wet! The distance between the mainland and the island is so short that many people opt to swim across instead of taking a boat. Once we arrived, we checked into Ngor Island Surf Camp, a charming little oasis that caters to those eager to surf the world-class waves of Senegal. Two of the surfers staying here happened to be the pilots who flew me in from JFK airport earlier that morning. The Surf Camp was like a modern day bed & breakfast equipped with family style breakfast and dinner daily and a picture perfect view of the Atlantic Ocean from our balcony.
While in Ngor I met some lovely people, including Anna, a British journalist who was in Ngor working on an article about surfing in Senegal. I also had the pleasure of meeting Ellie and Nate, a wonderful couple with quite the eclectic background who were kind enough to invite us to their lovely home for a glass of wine. Last but most certainly not least, I met Sandy. Sandy was one of the dogs that belonged to the owners of the Surf Camp. Sandy escorted us around the entire island everywhere we went, she even walked us to the boat when we were leaving the island! Thanks, Sandy, for looking out for us!
I couldn’t leave Ngor without indulging in the wonderful fresh fish the island has to offer. Our last meal before sailing back to the mainland was freshly caught grilled fish at a beachfront restaurant. We ate at the edge of the ocean (with Sandy by our side) and watched Senegalese kids play in the water as local vendors sold handcrafted jewelry and the gentle waves washed ashore.
I’m sad to say I didn’t spend much time in the actual city of Dakar, but the little time I spent there was spent… well… eating. We ate at a small restaurant called Alpha’s, where we spent our afternoon chatting with none other than Alpha himself! We ordered fish yassa: fish simmered with onions, garlic, mustard and lemon sauce. I typically don’t want anything to do with mustard, but this was cooked to perfection. After a couple of days on Ngor Island and a day in Dakar, we shared a taxi with Anna and two others and headed to Gambia.