I looked outside the cabin window at the stars above the clouds over the Atlantic, and imagined I was in a giant lawn dart lobbed on a great circle from DC to Dakar.
We beat the sunrise to Senegal.
Customs, baggage claim, men eager to help with bags, our polite declines took us outside. Markus smiled and we hugged. He is tan, and his blond goatee is almost white. The first cab driver looked at the surfboards and doubled the price to Plage de N’Gor. We moved on, began what would have been a twenty-minute walk when another diver in a beat up looking sedan stopped in the middle of the road and offered us a better price. Their was no rack. Pat and I took off our belts to create a long enough strap to hold it to the roof.
Five minutes later we pulled into a sandy alley. We paid the cabbie and walked one-hundred feet to a beach and a bay littered with small fishing boats, and the long and skinny brightly painted pirogues, the tradition vessels of this place. Less than a half-mile away was N’Gor, a small island filled with summer homes, a surf camp, a small military camp (complete with a bar with the cheapest beer on the island).
Markus went to find Mandiaye, our boat driver who would ferry us to the island. Pat and I sat by the bags, the waves rolled just to our feet. A north wind cut a chill through the clothing and a man walked by us with a small monkey on a leash. Mandiaye strolled up with a surf board, neatly folded his pants on top of his shoes and went out to get the boat. Once loaded, the small outboard pushed the narrow vessel through the maze of anchored craft, around rocks to a tan beach as the sun began to creep over the low skyline.
Markus had just secured our digs for the month of December. From the beach, perhaps forty feet through a four-foot wide alley was our two story house. The peach stucco was slightly cracked from the rigors of a seaside climate. A swordfish bill was mounted above the front door. From the roof we could see the Atlantic where a lone fishermen in a pirogue dipped in and out of sight in the waves.
Breakfast was eggs and bread and we battled jet-lag wandering the island. Five minutes through an alley took us to the white walls of the surf camp where Markus had been staying. A long table filled with pretty, tan people ate a simple breakfast of baguettes, grapefruit and Nescafé. We conversed in half a dozen languages before excusing ourselves to secure some wetsuits from the camp boss, Jasper, and walked out to the bluffs over the break where the 1966 surf film “The Endless Summer” began. Suiting up, we dove in among the surfers, petrels, sea urchins and jumping fish.