Postcolonial Urbanisms in Senegal: Jan 19th – Hotel Voile d’Or

I went with my host family to Mass in the morning. Only my host sister and the aunt went – Sébastian had an unexpected work issue and had to go cover for another security guard at the hospital. We went to a Catholic church in the neighborhood and Mass was uneventful – I was mostly reflecting on how strong and tight-knit the Catholic community seemed. You would not guess that they make up a very small percentage of Senegalese.

I didn’t have much time to pack after Mass and I packed rather haphazardly – the family was expecting me for lunch. Lunch was barely ready at 1:50 pm and we were leaving the Baobab Centre at 2 pm, but I couldn’t convince the family that I had to leave by 2. You’re so close, they said and waved off my comments. I was afraid to seem rude and I was sad about leaving anyway, so I had lunch with them – Thiéboudienne! – and then only made it to the bus at around 2:15 pm. We then sped off to Hotel Voile d’Or, which is frankly is a bewildering area. It’s surrounded by a pretty poor area – we could see lots of informal economy and huge local markets right before passing by enormous military compounds and finally the fish factories. You definitely would not be able to walk to this hotel. We pulled up to a Miami-motel reminiscent place, and once everyone saw the beach, we forgot about not being in the most centrally located place. The water was clear, the sand was soft, and we were all exhausted from this intense course. I had ambitious plans to visit the Pink Lake and hang out with Senegalese contacts I had been meaning to meet up with, but they all fell by the wasteside. Swimming in the ocean was a multi-dimensional experience – you looked to your left and you only see verdant greenery and small houses perched on top of the cliff. But you looked to your right and you saw an enormous expanse of all of the fishing factories – right on the water’s edge. It was a rather scary flash into the future.

Question: 1. Is the Catholic community particularly concentrated into certain areas? Also, how expensive are the Catholic schools in Dakar? They are reputed to have the best education.

2. How many fish factories were next to this hotel and what do they mean for the future of the hotel? For the future of the water?

3. What is the neighborhood that we were staying in called, who were its residents and what are the industries there?

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