My favorite kind of adventure is when you know a local on the ground. So, when heading to Dakar last week, I immediately thought of my friend Yodit who has a swimwear line, Bantu, based in Dakar. I hosted Yodit for a pop-up in Montauk years ago and we’ve stayed in touch ever since. As it turns out, she’s about to open a new boutique hotel in an area of Dakar called Seku Bi, so we snagged a preview of her new spot and scored some local must-see tips. She also introduced us to a super talented artist, Cheikh Ndiaye, who makes paintings of old movie theater facades around Africa.
Senegal is a country of beautiful people and natural wonders well worth the journey – a colorful, seaside paradise with more than a touch of rustic adventure (it’s good to keep a sense of humor when riding in all the old and broken down taxis…we even had to get out and push a few times). It’s an independent country that up until 1960 was colonized by France, so everyone speaks French, but everything else about the country is traditionally West African – the food, the music, the clothing.
We hit the ground running with a trip to the African market for fabrics and beaded baskets, drove to Lac Rose (the pink lake) stopping at surf spots along the way, went dune bashing on ATVs, and stayed in a house on a tiny island that we traveled to by boat everyday. Every meal was like an episode of “Parts Unknown”. We went to this local spot Chez Loutcha for dinner one night and it was like stepping into a Malick Sidibé photograph, only colorized. Checkered tablecloths, black-and-white tiled columns, a mini fish tank on stilts in the center of the room – it was funky and homey like eating at a friend’s place. And for the grand finale…dinner, music, and dancing at the top of a 17th century lighthouse under a perfect full moon.
Senegal is a magical place and I can’t wait to go back.