Gazelle beer in Dakar
We arrive at our hotel around 10 p.m. on a Friday night, and though I was told we got the last room available, the place is a ghost town. We’re standing in the lobby of a dim, dusty, vaguely art deco hotel that looks like it’s seen better days. A sleepy receptionist seems alarmed we’re standing in the lobby. “How did you reserve?” “Online,” I say. He offers a sleepy smile, and pulls out a pad of paper. It quickly becomes clear that my name isn’t on it.
Ten minutes pass as he searches for a reservation I’m certain he didn’t receive. There’s a crackly song playing on repeat, seemingly coming from everywhere and nowhere at the same time. Is that… Willie Nelson? You were always on my mind… you were always on my mind… Willie drawls on. Christmas lights flicker in the closed-down bar, which I’m eyeing desperately.
The receptionist has found us a room, and 20 minutes later we’re back in the lobby. “Possible une biere?” I manage to squeak. The bar is clearly closed, but it’s worth a shot. We have been traveling for approximately 18 hours at this point. A beer is in order. “Oui, deux Gazelle?” I happily accept his suggestion, knowing in the very least that Gazelle comes in a very big bottle.
Someone is sent out to retrieve our two beers, and we post up at the desolate bar and wait. And wait. I’m eyeing the sunken lounge, wondering who may have sat there and what they drank. Why they came. The pink-and-red furniture and soft flickering lights all contribute to the feeling of sitting in a musty brothel. I listen to the Atlantic Ocean rolling just outside and I want to dive in. The song continues to play, possibly 20 times before our Gazelles arrive. Is this what it feels like to go insane?
We’re eventually presented with wine glasses and have our first sips of Senegal’s famed beer. Willie goes on about all the little things he should have said or done, and eventually we’re singing along with him, I guess I never told you… I’m so happy that you’re mine…