A Valentine’s Day love letter to Dakar

One year ago today, I broke up with New York and began my journey into the arms of Dakar.

New York was a bad boyfriend that I stuck with so long only because I have attachment issues. I kept saying to myself, maybe if I do x, y, or z, NYC will finally return the love. It didn’t happen, because New York doesn’t love people; New York only loves itself. But because New York is also charismatic, and attractive, and exciting, and always offering interesting stories and whirlwind adventures right when you’re on the verge of saying, “Fuck it, I’m out,” (classic mixed signals), I ignored how unhappy my relationship with the city was. Until I couldn’t ignore it any longer, and I started flirting with leaving New York for Dakar.

Coming here was the best decision I ever made. I don’t have a love/hate relationship with Dakar the way I did with New York. That’s because Dakar doesn’t play hard to get. There are no velvet ropes or impossible rental markets or hours-long commutes through dark, crowded holes in the ground. And Dakar gets me. It gets that cities are made for connecting with people, not for throwing money around. It gets that people need to move at the same pace our ancestors did, even if our technology permits us to go much faster. (In Dakar, the technology does not actually permit that, and I’m thankful for it despite my grumblings.) And Dakar still has character. It isn’t being taken over by global capitalism and slowly turned into a cookie cutter version of every other metropolis.

But I don’t want to use Valentine’s Day to pen thinly veiled hate mail to my former flame. Instead – Dakar, let me count the ways that I love you: Continue reading