Musings in the Dark: The Expat Diaries; Volume IV: Dakar, Senegal


The Expat Diaries; Volume IV: Dakar, Senegal

In October of 2019, I accepted a job in Senegal.  I was not planning on moving to Africa, as I wanted to stay in Asia for a few more years.  I had my heart set on getting a job in Hong Kong, but I would have settled for Seoul, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, or Bangkok.  

I got an email from the director of the embassy school in Dakar, asking if I was interested in living and working in West Africa.  I wasn’t, but I didn’t have any other offers on the table and it’s always good to get interview practice.  But when I went to research the school, I realized very quickly that it was an interview I needed to take seriously.  The school’s benefit package was the best I’d ever seen and I was literally able to check all the boxes on my benefits list.  So I got myself together and interviewed successfully and when the offer was made, I took it.  I’d have been a complete fool not to.  So far, I’m loving my new gig.  My colleagues respect me and my bosses leave me the hell alone.

I moved to Dakar in August and of course, it was hotter than Satan’s asshole when I arrived.  I’ve got a nice apartment and I am literally a seven-minute walk from my job, which I love.  There are two main communities in this part of the city: Mermoz and Almadies.  I live in Mermoz, but Almadies is a vibrant and active community with tons more restaurants, stores and other amenities.  However, Almadies is a quick taxi ride from Mermoz.

There is literally a road next to the ocean, named Beach Road, and it contains a whole bunch of restaurants that front the mighty Atlantic.  Me and my new friends go to Beach Road a lot just to take in the ocean and eat good food.

What’s it like?  Now that the weather has cooled off, I’m really starting to enjoy exploring the city.  I’m taking French classes, because French and Wolof are the dominant languages and you need to be conversational in either (or both) if you want to get where you wanna go and get what you need.  The taxis are raggedy but plentiful, and for the most part, I have not had any real issues with the drivers.  I am learning how to find my way around, because this is a city where the streets have no name and you need to know landmarks.  There are hustlers on every corner, selling everything from fruit to clothes to suitcases to bedroom furniture...all kinds of things can be purchased on the side of the road.  We were told prior to arriving that the quality of linens and textiles were not that good and expensive, and to bring sheets and blankets with us.  

I have bought rugs imported from Turkey and I’m pleased with their quality.  My apartment has tile floors and I’m the kind of woman that needs carpeting under my feet, so I have rugs all over the place.  I’m going to have some curtains made (I found a really good tailor; better to have them made than purchase them from a store), and I’ve bought some artwork from local artists to decorate my walls.  My shipment recently arrived and I’ve finally got everything where I want it.

The people?  The Senegalese are, for the most part, friendly and always ask how you are.  You need to have a basic knowledge of French in order to have these quick conversations with them.  The woman who runs my street is named Madame Fatou and she sells vegetables at the corner.  She holds court every day from morning to evening and she always has a smile on her face and greets me with a “ va?” and I respond in kind.  It’s good to engage with the locals because my understanding is that everyone knows everyone else, and they always know what’s going on.

The women here are absolutely gorgeous and regal in the way they dress and carry themselves.  They have beautiful dark skin and their makeup game is on point.  Some of the men dress well and carry themselves regally just like the women.  Other men do not do this.  Men are allowed to have up to four wives, but women can’t have multiple husbands (of course!).  It cracks me up because my whole thing about that is can you afford multiple wives?  Senegal is considered a poor country, so I guess the answer is probably not, but it’s not going to stop these men from having as many wives as possible.  Some bullshit is what it is.

Senegalese men are very aggressive.  They want to know your name, number and address moments after meeting you so they can talk to you and take you out.  I was told prior to arriving to set up a Tinder account if I was serious about dating.  I did so, as I felt like I owed it to myself to try and get a local friend.  It lasted for two weeks.  The moment you swipe right, they’re trying to know your personal details so they can come for you (and hit you up for marriage).  I was getting a lot of matches, but to be honest, my heart wasn’t in it.  I told one of my Tinder matches that I wasn’t comfortable with giving out my phone number so quickly and if we could just chat through the app for a few days first.  He wasn’t cool with it, so that was the end of that relationship.  Shortly after that, I suspended my account.  I’m more concerned with taking care of me right now and learning how to navigate my way around the city.  Having a local friend would be extremely helpful, but I’m not interested in being wifey #2, #3 or #4.  I’m not even interested in being wife #1, and I don't care to converse about it.

The Senegalese are big on exercise.  You will regularly see people running and working out on the side of the road.  Next to the beach, there is workout equipment and you’re likely to see people (mostly men) using the equipment.  It is a real thing over here to exercise and work out...but y’all already know that ain’t me.

The biggest things I got going on right now is learning French and trying to get back in the pool to improve my swimming.  That, coupled with the job, takes up a lot of my time.  I have put myself on a writing schedule so I can get my projects done in a timely manner.  If anything interesting pops up during my stay here (and I hope to be here for at least 4 years), y’all will be among the first to know.

Abientot, Dark Dilettantes!!!


  1. Happy New Year.

    Four years, wow. I thought you would only be there for a year.

    1. First time contracts are always two years, but I am sick and tired of moving every two years. Everything's going well so far, so I feel like I can put some time in here, save some money, stack paper and do my job without any extraneous bullshit. We'll see though.


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