Reporter: Joseph R Fitchett
Contact at destination: Dr. Joseph Layousse
Year of visit: 2008
Institution: Clinique Rada
Work / Study undertaken: Two month clinical attachment to obstetrics and general medicine
Description of destination: Rufisque is an overpopulated town a short distance from Dakar, the capital. Despite being 20km drive, the journey may last as long as 3 hours due to terrible road conditions and traffic. The main road to the capital passes through Rufisque, meaning it is a link to most of Senegal. Its respective problems arise from its geographical position.
Were the local people friendly? The local people are very friendly and confident. However, due to the innate confidence of its people, some may come across as pushy when it comes to selling their products (understandable when most workers are commission-based only).
Did you feel safe and if not why not? Senegal is overall a safe country. Rufisque is safe but extremely poor. Caution should be taken at all times as its infrastructure and services are not built for visitors (unlike Dakar). Please visit the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website for up to date information regarding security.
What did you do in your spare time? In Rufisque there is not much to do. However, due its position past the terrible Dakar traffic, you can travel very easily to beach resorts, St Louis, the Lac Rose and the rest of the country.
Is there anything that you would particularly recommend others to do? Visit as much as you can! The country has a lot of vibrant West African culture and the people tend to speak great French – meaning potential for great conversations in the most unusual of locations!
What was the climate like? Hot and humid in the rainy season, hot and hot in the dry season! I personally felt much more used to the temperature over time.
What was your accommodation like? Basic. An option is negotiating a price in advance with l’Oustal de l’Agenais (+221338361648).
Was it provided? No, easily arranged however oneself.
How much did it cost? Without negotiating, a rooms starts at CFA 10,000 (correct around 2008/9)
Did you enjoy your visit? Yes, very much!
Did you find it useful medically? Particularly useful for improving one’s clinical skills and confidence, and puts medicine into perspective by emphasising simple treatment options
Has it improved your French? Yes! And you can learn a few words of Wolof too.
How has it increased your knowledge of French culture? Yes, as well as the local culture, and offered an understanding into lifestyle and attitudes simply from living there and talking to people. It was a great chance to meet people from across West Africa and the francophone world. Senegal was a completely different world.
If you went back would you do anything differently? I would aim to travel the region more – West Africa has some fantastic French-speaking neighbouring countries such as Mali.
How did you get there? Flights London – Lisbon – Dakar with TAP
What was the approximate total cost? Flights: £500 return. Daily living: very cheap. Transport: very cheap. Tourism: suits all budgets. Overall, I spent less than £1000 in Senegal including all costs and extensive travelling.
Is there any other information that you think may be useful? The Lonely Planet is a MUST! Take Euros and do not rely fully on cash machines in Rufisque. Get in touch – firstname.lastname@example.org