As we all know there is a lot of conversation about whether we should travel during this pandemic. Truthfully I don’t go out much here in Abidjan as a way to avoid the nonchalance of my fellow citizens who are not wearing masks. However a couple of weeks ago I decided to go on a trip to nearby Dakar because I needed to get out of Abidjan for a week and Senegal has done an excellent job containing the virus. Due to the election fears and protests here in CI , covid fatigue from wearing a mask at school all day since August and election challenges in the US I just needed a mental and physical break away from my apartment. In order to leave Abidjan I needed to get a covid test. I was surprised to find out that I could pay ($90) for the test online after I completed my travel declaration and then request that the doctor come to my apartment to give me the test. This was good because I don’t speak French and the medical staff here don’t speak English. I had the security guard give the doctor directions to my apartment. The test is quick but it is uncomfortable and unpleasant AF. Just when you think they have pushed that swab so high, they push it even higher. It hurts despite being quick and my nose was stinging for a couple of minutes after the test. The amount of people traveling was so high that the results took a while to come back, so much so that I didn’t get them until the night before I left at 11 pm. The check in and security at the airport was seamless compared to what I have encountered before due to smaller crowds. The airport in Abidjan is small, there’s only one restaurant where you can get sandwiches and pastries, and a couple of stores. Although the airport was not overly crowded, the flight to Dakar was full. The employees were wearing gloves, masks, hair coverings and gowns over their clothing. Masks were required but not many people wore face shields like before.
Once I got to Dakar I stayed at the Radisson Blu Sea Plaza hotel because I wanted to be at a hotel where I didn’t need to leave the hotel; I wanted to eat, sleep, drink and relax. Unlike Abidjan the airport in Dakar is really far from the city so it took over an hour to get to the hotel which is on the Corniche and close to the ocean. The Radisson took temperatures when you came into the hotel and you walked through a cleaning booth. It is well decorated and has a beautiful pool layout that looks into the sea with outdoor restaurants and bars. I received an upgrade to a sea view room which was a bit larger and came with a robe and slippers. My time at the Radisson was uneventful and relaxing, just what I needed. Each day I woke up around 10 am just in time to get breakfast before it ended, sat at the pool for most of the day and left around 3 pm when it got crowded. I actively avoided crowds because the only people wearing masks at the pool were the staff. So I spent my evenings in my room with room service to avoid the evening crowd that assembled. Surprisingly I even had a taxi driver tell me that coivd in Senegal is finished because I was wearing a mask. Sometimes I walked around the mall that is attached to the hotel for a bit of exercise and the best coconut ice cream. The food at the Radisson was tasty and I was so grateful to be outside every day, enjoying the ocean and catching 5 days of beautiful sunsets. The staff was kind, helpful, anf friendly which made my stay so lovely. And let me not forget to mention those beautiful chocolate Senegalese men 😏
In order to get back into Abidjan I had to take another covid test a week later. Dakar’s testing facilities only give the test 48 hours before your flight so I was happy to find out that I could pay a bit more more to have the technician come to the hotel to give me the test in the lobby and get my results in 24 hours.
So here in West Africa travel is slowly picking up again and people are getting accustomed to covid tests as a part of our travel experience. The flight back to Abidjan was not crowded, I had the entire row to myself. I am so glad I went on that trip; while I understand the decision of many not to travel during the pandemic, I believe that it is a personal decision. With research and precautions you can get on a plane and go on a trip. The customs line at the airport in Abidjan was short and for the first time in a year I got through customs in less than 15 minutes. It was a relief to get out of the airport and into a taxi so I could get home and take a shower. As is often the case here in Abidjan I had been home less than 20 minutes when my electricity went off. All I could think was welcome back to reality; electricity outages are a regular thing of my life here in Abidjan. #anewnormal #pandemictravel #BlackExpat #thelittlethingsinlife #lifeinAfrica