I have the good fortune of a whole row to myself on the airplane. I slump, put my feet up, then indulge in lying flat out across the three seats. However this feels far from indulgent. I’m uncomfortable, and apprehensive.

Iberia rescheduled my flight to Dakar three times, each change eating away into November, before boldly forcing the flight three weeks forward. This left me one meagre day to move out of lodgings, prepare my suitcase and squeeze in as many goodbyes as I could physically and emotionally manage. Abruptly plucked from the breast of Mama Montserrat, and catapulted head first into my new life in Senegal, I’m uncertain what awaits me on the other side, I’m uncertain if I actually packed anything useful.


The visa official at Dakar airport reads my name aloud with slow suspicion ‘ruh-beh-cuh cus-worf’. I assure him its a good name no? He seems satisfied, agreeing with a casual nod and smile. Once granted entry, I’m free to have my luggage rescanned, my passport and papers rechecked, then pass through the main doors into the heat of the senegalese night.

A huge African cockroach runs to greet me, scuttling round and round my feet.

Welcome to Senegal’ a man chuckles.