Wednesday, August 24, 2011

We've Arrived...

We made it  Monday night - 7 pieces of luggage, 4 back packs, 2 carry ons and one guitar!  Smooth sailing on Air France from San Francisco to Dakar. Turns out both our flights had a fair amount of empty seats - making it feel more 'open' if you want to say that is possible on a plane. One area of the plane even had a wider aisle - perfect for yoga poses - cat/cows, downward dogs and planks!  We had a lovely sendoff in SF from some very good friends we'd known for over 20 years. After arriving in Dakar and collecting our bags  and walking out of the terminal- it hit us - the heat, the throngs of people, taxi cabs and the 'helpers'. The 'helpers' - all kinds of  "self-employed" folk that want to help you with your baggage to a taxi.  It's actually very daunting at 9:00 at night. When you are new to the country, without any local currency, bogged down with luggage, and exhausted from  a long flight --one can make an easy target for these operators.  Fortunately we'd been given enough insight and warning about the 'hazards' of arrival. Manning had arranged prior - for a hotel pickup - and all I can say was "our guy" was waiting. Apparently hotel staff are allowed to enter into an area away from 'the helpers'.  In my mind I was somewhat ready for this - as we wheeled our way through the crowd - a man did grab the metal portion of my rolling carry on - and I kept going and repeatedly said "ne touche pas - c'est ma valise" (yes, I practiced this phrase a few times before landing). Eventually he let go.  Another 'helper' followed "our guy" and Manning - mainly having his hand on our luggage - in order to ask for money.  He was ignored with vigor. Finally we got into our designated hotel bus and our driver negotiated his way out of the madness. Nothing new to him I suppose.

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