It rained on Wednesday. Now I realise that this won’t sound particularly momentous to those of you living in rainy London, but this is Dakar. We don’t have winter and summer, we have a rainy season and a dry season and right now we are in the dry season. In the dry season it doesn’t rain. It is usually hot and sunny with blue skies, though sometimes the harmattan blows in from the Sahara desert and a white haze of dust hangs over the city, but it doesn’t rain.
So when I woke on Wednesday morning I thought I must be dreaming when I heard rain sounds – thought it was some strange trick, perhaps the leaves of the mango tree tapping against the roof in the wind – but then I heard thunder and knew it was for real. & it was the day I was moving house.
With my northern European background I groaned inwardly at the rain, thinking about all my books, clothes and CDs getting wet as the removal men carried the boxes out to the lorry. But in a semi-desert country like Senegal such unseasonal rain is considered good luck, especially for new ventures, and this portentous rainstorm was even mentioned on the evening news. Locals associated it with the presidency of the newly elected Macky Sall, but I knew better – it was for me, for my move to the new apartment.
& so far it seems to have worked. My only loss on the move was one small glass. But more importantly I now live in a beautiful apartment. It has two bedrooms and one open plan lounge/diner/kitchen, with both the latter room and the master bedroom having large French windows opening on to the enormous south-west facing balcony with its sea view (OK, the sea is behind the rooftops and a big road, but I can still see it and its cooling breezes still reach my balcony). The contrast with the old house I moved out of could not be greater as this place is flooded with light – and I realise now how I suffered from the dark, gloomy interior of the house, built in the typical African way to face north and so avoid as much as possible of the sun.
I didn’t set foot outside the apartment block for the whole weekend as I couldn’t bear to leave it. Just a trip downstairs to the shared swimming pool, which I had all to myself.
The place does have its faults (otherwise it wouldn’t be within the budget of an NGO), but the planes flying overhead in the night have not woken me once. There is no generator, only little machines that keep the lights on during power cuts – but not the fridges, the hairdryers or the cookers. So far we haven’t had any power cuts but I’m sure they’ll come once we move into the hot and steamy rainy season. But I don’t think I’ll care because I am truly in love with this apartment. I don't know at the moment how long I have left in Senegal (as a management restructuring of my department is looming) but in a way that is making me treasure each day there even more.