The capital of Senegal doesn’t know what to do with tourists. They don’t get many. While Dakar is still a notch above Dhaka in Bangladesh, poverty and shantytowns are pervasive, making more modern neighborhoods feel like investor transplants airlifted in place. I do not feel welcome here but I didn’t let that stop me.

The core of Dakar is the Medina district. The beautiful Grande Mosque is here, but the rest is dominated by dirt roads, small and plain dusty houses, wrecked cars on blocks, children playing with garbage or begging, women doing laundry manually on the sidewalks, buses so dirty that they make my lungs feel like filled with mud, and goats everywhere. And still nobody smiles.