One of the world’s most dangerous off-road endurance events is called the Dakar Rally. Thierry Sabine was a French motorcycle racer who established the Paris-Dakar rally almost 40 years ago. Lac Rose in Senegal was the final leg leading toward the Dakar finish line. Due to safety and terrorism concerns, the Dakar Rally moved to South America. It is currently held in Saudi Arabia under the name, The Dakar. One of my excursions in Senegal was a chance to experience the sand dunes where these popular, and sometimes deadly rallys took place.
Competitors raced for two weeks to finish 10,000 km (6200 mi.) over steep sand dunes like the one I glanced back to photograph.
I had to be very careful not to drop my phone along the jolty ride. I was living in the moment by feeling free from a life of quarantine, virtual teaching, and tutoring four nights a week.
Similar to the struggle back home, there were times where our vehicle was using all the horsepower it had to traverse the sand dunes. It was more challenging than the option to rent dromedaries.
At the top of one of the highest points gave us panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean. Even from this distance, the sounds of the waves coming to shore was louder than any beach I have experienced.
There was a model and production crew who used the beautiful views for a photo shoot backdrop.
After the thrill of the dunes, we went along the Atlantic Ocean shore to go for a dip and ride four wheelers.
The currents were very strong. I was the only one brave enough to run out there sort of like the excited child who darts out into traffic. That was me.
We got back in the 4×4 to see Lac Rose. The signage in the roads leading to the lake call it Lac Retba. Either way, the name is to describe the pink color cast off by the algae that grows in the salt water. I found it interesting that it’s located only five minutes from the Atlantic Ocean.
The color pink was not very obvious on the date I was there (12-21-20). I have read about different times of year or day to visit to get the best pink effect. The women selling their artwork made of sand and beaded jewelry were some true hustlers. The woman in the blue was like, “Take my picture.” I loved her energy.
The vendors didn’t speak much English, and I don’t speak a lick of Wolof or French, but we still bonded. My boyfriend bargained back and forth over my souvenirs. I’m more of a “just buy it” person. He explained how it is their form of entertainment to haggle back and forth with tourists.
I learned how the salt harvesters slather their bodies in shea butter to protect their skin from salinity concentrations which exceed the Dead Sea. I have a somewhat high salt tolerance from years of doing the Master Cleanse that involves sea salt flushes. In fact, I had just completed a 10-day fast in November. I dipped my finger in the water to taste it. Yes, it is very salty.
Last, but not least is the memorial marker for Thierry Sabine. He lost his life when his helicopter crashed into a sand dune. He was well-known and loved by the Senegalase people. His name will live on for generations because he helped improve the economy with the Dakar Rally.