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There is a bar in the Senegalese capital of Dakar that you can only find if someone has pointed the way. It sits on a thin strip of beach, with a wide view of the Atlantic Ocean and the young surfers who chase waves as the sun sets in the distance. It sits below the Mamelles Lighthouse, which offers tours during the day and turns into a nightclub after dark. None of the furniture in the open-air bar matches. The five-minute walk to the cove, down a thin dirt path that snakes from a chaotic intersection — horse-drawn carts and shiny S.U.V.s competing for space on packed roads — feels like passing through a portal between worlds.

Dakar has an aura that seeps into your soul. The sensations — the smell of grilled fish and spiced coffee, the feeling of an impending downpour, the bone-rattling vibrations from a dozen drums — stay with you long after you leave. When I visited this West African city, as part of my journey around the world as the 52 Places Traveller, I often caught myself thinking of my future. As I walked through markets that seemingly went on forever or sat on the deck of a ferry as it floated away from the mainland to one of the outlying islands, I thought, “I could live here.” And while it is impossible to fully experience without making the trip, there are ways to capture at least a sliver of the magic.

Spotted in the New York Times – How to Pretend You’re in Dakar Today – The New York Times (

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