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Senegal: St-Louis

A beach hut at the Hôtel l'Oasis, St-Louis
My beach hut at the Hôtel l'Oasis

I arrived in St-Louis with an annoying tic in my right eye and the hollow feeling of leaving familiar territory. I was only in Dakar for a few days, but already my mind, preoccupied with feeling homesick and sorry for itself, was desperately trying to put down roots, even somewhere as unpleasantly sweaty as the capital of Senegal. Now I've ditched the daily routine of Yoff and taken a bush taxi to the north of the country, and it feels like leaving home all over again; I guess it will take some time before being alone stops feeling so lonely.

The Beach

A beach completely smothered in old flip-flops
The beach to the south of St-Louis is where African flip-flops go to die

Thank goodness for St-Louis, then, or more accurately the wonderful strip of beach to the south of the town. This area is called L'Hydrobase because back in the 1930s it was an important refuelling stop for planes flying between Europe and South America; these days it's home to a number of picture-perfect beach hut complexes, each of them overlooking a west-facing Atlantic beach.

A rusty wrecked boat on St-Louis beach
It's also where hulks of old wrecked boats rust in the sun, a common sight along the Senegalese coast

From the Heart

A fisherman's graveyard near St-Louis
The fisherman's graveyard, a strange sight to the south of the fishing village

I didn't really mind that St-Louis turned out to be a disappointment because I rather enjoyed wandering through the squalid fishing village, nodding bonjour to the locals and grinning the grin of a man who isn't remotely fluent in the local language. Indeed, people were very friendly, so it was no surprise to be accosted by a happy-looking chap in the centre of town who introduced himself as Falou and latched onto the fact that I was English.

St-Louis from across the River Senegal
The city of St-Louis sits on a low island in the middle of the River Senegal
Pont Faidherbe bridge, St-Louis
Pont Faidherbe, which was originally built to cross the Danube and was exported to Senegal in 1897, links the island of St-Louis to the mainland
The beach at St-Louis
The golden sands of St-Louis... well, they're golden when you're away from the town and the fishing village, anyway
A fisherman's pirogue in the River Senegal
A fisherman's pirogue beached on the green banks of the River Senegal