I won’t be able to touch on all the different ways things get delivered here in Dakar, but it’s safe to say you won’t see a UPS, USPS or any other form of standardized delivery system here (unless you count horses. or hand carts).
Mail does not get delivered to houses. I’m not sure how someone gets mail here in Dakar. Mine gets delivered to the school. The same with packages. I’m going to need to find out how non ex-pat people get mail or packages. I’ll have to ask someone at school since my French is not good enough to ask or understand the answer if I asked Martine.
Almost all streets are unmarked. Street signs like we are used to are nonexistent. EVen along the Corniche (the paved ‘highway’ that runs along the coast), there are no signs indicating what an exit is called. Most houses and business do not have any number identification on them either. We live in Mermoz, which is an area of Dakar, not really an ‘American suburb’ but probably the closest thing we have to compare it to (the quotes are because ‘suburb’ here means slum). I’ve seen one small blue sign the size of a report card envelope on the outside of the wall saying Rue Mermoz, but that’s it. AND there are many roads in Mermoz, not just one. Other areas that we probably drive through during a week are Almandies, and what I call ‘downtown’ (near President Maky’s White House equivalent). I’m not sure how I would tell someone where I live to get something delivered. We know from my botched attempt to get pizza delivery that describing where you live is no guarantee and that was even with help from a fluent French speaker.
It’s not unusual for things to be delivered by horse and cart. During the weekend you will hear a whistle blown every now and then. It signals a man coming around with a horse and cart collecting trash. I’m not sure how much it costs and to be honest, I don’t actually know what happens to the trash from our house. The housekeeper takes it out of the house, but I have no idea where it goes after that. The day guard had asked me to buy a larger trash can, that I had assumed was for trash, but when I looked in it this weekend, it was being used to hold some of his items so they didn’t get wet. Something else I need to find out.
It’s also not uncommon to see a man/boy and a push or pull cart delivering things (see below). I’ve seen everything from sacks of baguettes to cement blocks, boxes of bananas, palm fronds, etc.
You also see motorbike deliveries. Some of them are ‘official’ with a box on the back for deliveries, but sometimes it is just one guy driving and one riding holding something-a goat, a car bumper, a giant bag of baguettes, a ladder, etc. I need to get Maggie to start carrying her camera in the car while we drive so she can snap some good pictures for us.
The vehicle above is a gerryrigged SUV thingy made into a delivery ‘truck’.
You also see some delivery vehicles such as cars or taxis or occasionally a truck. I’m looking for a picture I took of the truck that delivered our shipment. It was a truck that I was pretty amazed was running and looking at the thing, it was amazing to me that everything was unloaded unscathed. (little truck delivering fabric to market below-all Dakar citizen’s license plates are blue and begin with DK. Mine is white with red letters/numbers. Embassy workers have green with yellow lettering.)
There are also little hand-carts that are usually selling Nescafe (coffee) or baggies of juice. Often those little hand-carts are in bad shape. I saw a teen pushing one this weekend that had one of its two tires flatter than a pancake. Then again, I’ve seen someone ‘using’ a wheelbarrow that also had a flat tire.