Christmas Eve in Senegal


So we are celebrating our first Christmas abroad as a family. It is currently 73 degrees at 8:00 p.m. in Dakar, Senegal and we have just returned from a dinner of brochette poisson avec frites (fish kabobs and fries) at the Cabanne de Surfeur with a couple from school that are our friends. We enjoyed a leisurely meal about 15 feet from the sea wall where the waves were breaking and shooting foam into the air. There were a few surfers in the distance, endlessly riding the waves in.


Not our typical Christmas Eve.

We toasted our time together and joked about not being in church acting out the manger scene, complete with donkey ears or tinsel wings.

It was a beautiful scene, slightly hazy, so the sunset was not vibrant. The temperature was what I would consider perfect, with a slight chill coming in on the mist from the crashing waves. I had the perfect seat to be able to watch the ten foot waves crash onto the stones and curl up over the top of the cement sea wall. Less than two miles away, the western-most tip of Africa can be found.

We have struggled a little with the fact that it doesn’t “feel” like Christmas (from a temperature standpoint, snow and cold “make” it feel like Christmas for us), although we are fortunate to be in an accepting Muslim country that not only ‘tolerates’ Christian neighbors, but also celebrates along with their Christian friends and neighbors. We miss the holiday walking tour that kicks off Christmas in our hometown and the lit Christmas trees that line the main street.

Here in Dakar, every grocery store has Christmas decorations, gifts, and holiday foods for sale. Last week at one of the grocery stores we frequent, Simon and I bought a 5-foot artificial tree, tinsel, lights and ornaments for about $45.  It’s not a huge Martha Stewart-esque artificial tree that doesn’t even look fake, but it’s cheerful and has made the kids and I happy.


I was able to buy Santa chocolates for the kids’ Christmas stockings. Today I bought a traditional Buche de Noel (cake in the form of a Yule Log) at the bakery down the street that looks pretty delicious.

There were more holiday decorations and themes of Christmas tree decorations than I could even really fathom at the Orca store. If I had so desired, I could have decked out a tree or house with more holiday colors and lights than even in the states for not that much money.

We’ve seen children’s parties at restaurants with Papa Noel, complete with wrapped gifts, holiday outfits and a fake Santa. I was able to find holiday wrapping paper.

Firecrackers have been going off in the neighborhood, driving the dogs insane. The four of us are curled up in the living room, reading books, surfing Facebook, enjoying some needed family time.

It might not be typical, but the important thing is that we are together. We are soaking in the new learning experiences every day and enjoying what might be a once in a lifetime family holiday.

Merry Christmas to all our friends and family!


About bestbookihavenotread

Kristine has been in education since 1993. She taught fourth grade in Ohio from 1993 - 2008. She has been a Curriculum Coordinator for four years. She is relocating to Dakar, Senegal to be the Director of Curriculum for the International School of Dakar in August 2012.
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4 Responses to Christmas Eve in Senegal

  1. Janet Herring says:

    So happy you are all together as a family for Christmas. Although the weather is different with no cold and snow, we all celebrate Christ’s birth no matter where in the world you happen to be. Merry Christmas to the Michael family!

    • bestbookihavenotread says:

      Us too! The time went way too fast! Fortunately there wasn’t much time between when Guy left and my mom arrived to keep us distracted!

  2. Deb T. says:

    Merry Christmas! You are celebrating the mot important part of the holiday activites…being together! Have blessed Christmas.

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