Gentle readers, you may know that I have a daughter who is in Africa from last August to this April, and I had planned to visit her since I moved to Spain. It’s much more accessible here than from the United States, and the flights take about seven hours total, not counting the layovers in various airports. Packed and ready to roll, I was at the Valencia airport early…too early. I am used to Atlanta, where you have to be at the airport at least 3 hours before an international flight, and that is clearly WAAAAY ahead of the Spanish schedule. The airport was dead, and I had to wait until the flight desk for my airline opened, which was only two hours ahead of the flight. Some coffee and a relaxed breakfast was a nice treat.
So, after a minor luggage rearrangement to distribute weight of my backpack into my checked luggage, I was ready to go. Honestly, the majority of the weight was a goodie bag for my daughter that included a number of items that she requested and are not available to her in Africa. Regardless, once that was settled, security was a breeze. (On a side note, this is definitely the most comfortable I have been in a Spanish airport, due to my ability to have a more effective conversation in Spanish. Hooray for my brain adapting to new situations!!!)
For this trip, my flight was through Lisbon, Portugal, and my layover was significant. I had a nice meal, looked around the nice selection of stores, and completed some intense people-watching. Portugese is a lovely language to hear, and I enjoyed listening to transactions in restaurants and among friends. I heard English, French, German, Spanish, and Portugese, plus a number of other languages spoken by people traveling to and from Africa.
My flight was packed, but my arrival was significant. Upon arrival, I had to purchase a visa (yes, I now have two pages of my passport occupied by visas!) and that required several “interviews” and payment in euros… good thing I had some European cash on me! I also had to find the shuttle bus, which was not easy. The number of “helpful” men waiting on people to arrive from the airport is significant, and when I located someone who had a loose alliance with my hotel, I was pleased that he was friendly but not pushy. I was told, several times, that I needed to change money at the airport door, although I had already done that in Lisbon.
Reuniting with my daughter after six months was sweet. Really sweet. Whatever we do together is a bonus, because seeing her is what I am really here to do.
This is the beach outside of our initial hotel in Dakar. Literally… the back side of the hotel is on the sand. I will be taking more pictures and posting them when I can.