As early as May 2007, I had made harsh criticisms in Dakar, Senegal, of the busiest airport in West Africa, leopod Sedal senhall International Airport.
Between the dirt and the mosquitoes, under constant clamoring and scammers, I declared it the worst airport in the world.
I have returned to Senegal since then.
The conditions are slightly better due to the new Air
Conditional departure hall but no improvement elsewhere.
The arrival area is still dirty and worn, and people who arrive or leave during the day will notice a lot of garbage near the runway and taxiway.
The grass south of the main tarmac shot here looks like a plastic bag farm.
So with that in mind, you'll think I'll be happy after I recently learned about a brand
The new international airport in Dakar is under construction and will be built 28 miles southeast of the city.
Named in honor of the first black African elected to the French parliament, Bryce dianyne International is expected to be completed by 2011.
Bin Ladin Group Saudi Arabia is an experienced airport builder owned by the estranged "Who do you know" family, responsible for the construction.
Fraport AG, the operator of Frankfurt International, will manage the facility for a contract period of 25 years.
I think it's a bad idea.
In any case, it is not necessary.
In general, you will build an alternative airport because there is no space in the existing airport or it is crowded.
The disadvantages of Senghor International are spacious.
There are many rooms on the tarmac and it is very long (
If very narrow), instrument-Runway.
What it needs is a larger, more modern passenger complex.
There is also plenty of room for that, and it is clear that the cost of building a new airport is only a fraction of the estimated $0. 45 billion.
Senghor is also very close to the city center.
In the far south, the location of the new airport is very strange.
On the one hand, it will make it easier for thousands of European tourists to spend their holidays at the beach resort on Senegal's southwest coast every year.
On the other hand, it needs to build a huge new highway.
The existing southbound road in Dakar is a nightmare of traffic, dust and smoke, and driving time to and from the airport for up to three hours is not acceptable.
Construction of the new highway has begun.
It is speculated that the government of Senegal sees this huge dual project as a national investment.
The big new airport means more jobs, more passengers and more income;
A flat new road could ease some of the city's notorious traffic jams.
Similarly, Africa is Africa, which may be too optimistic.
Call it "development", or call it "semi-development"billion-
Dollar opportunities for contractors and politicians.
The President of Senegal boasted that national funds would not be needed for one franc.
Passenger tax and foreign investors will fund the fund.
Still, I remembered the white elephant airport I saw in Mandalay, Myanmar, and maritimbuktu.
They are arrogant and deceptive claims, monuments to money that should have been spent elsewhere.
As a person who loves all air travel, I should be excited about the prospect of the new airport.
But I find it obscene in Senegal.
In the country, 56% of the population lives on less than $2 a day.
Call me naive, who am I and speak for Africans, but it is hard for me to believe that the people of Senegal need or desire a new international airport.
What they need and desire is clean drinking water, basic health care, a cleaner environment and a better literacy rate than the existing 39%.
As an investment, the airport has brought a lot of good things, but I don't think they are counted in the long term or in the short term.
I think a lot of people already know this.
As Kurt Vonnegut once said.
For me, note down these injustices as if they were not yet discovered, as if we could change the order of things because we felt bad, maybe it's the highest level of stupidity.
Some say the world is slowly returning to normal.
It is believed that we are at the forefront of the huge and unstoppable push of social and ecological justice.
This is how we move because our backs are against the wall.
We must design forgetting.
Well, I'm not sure I agree with that.
If I have become more cynical in recent years, I think travel has pushed me in that direction.
Exploring the rest of the world is beneficial in all respects, which is usually commendable, and I am still shocked by the geography knowledge of ordinary Americans
No interest in foreign visits.
I think every American student should be called up for a semester in exchange for financial assistance (or more)
Certain international travel, such as the purchase of hybrid cars, should be taxed. deductible.
Perhaps in this way, we will not have such a vulgar sense of rights and an exclusive world view.
Not to mention, a lot of places just knock-your-socks-
It's not cold or hot: kayerti falls, Suleiman Mosque, Okavango Delta. . .
Travel can also burn you out and suck away your faith in humanity.
You will see, just before you, how the world is broken;
The Earth is destroyed and life is cheap, and as a Western observer, you will not take any action on it, whether you have a conscience or not.
Senegal made me particularly tired.
Like many places in the world, this country is beautiful and terrible.
In a minute, you will drive through the extraordinary scenery of the cypress trees, cruise among the mangroves, and visit the picturesque African villages;
The next minute, you are holding your nose as you pass through the sewers of some stinking slums.
Cattle are destroying the emerald glory of Sine-
In the Shalom Delta, billions of plastic bags and bottles are scattered on land and water elsewhere, along with tons of garbage.
Of course, there are more troublesome areas on Earth, but the poverty and pollution in Senegal is beyond the wildest understanding of most Americans.
Drive along the route of de Rufisque for a while, two-
Driveway, a heavily pitted section stretching south from Dakar. A half-
An hour tour along Rufisque is a complete-
Immerse yourself in all the wrong things in the world.
What makes the area particularly terrible is the brutal mix of organic and industrial dirtiness, some of which are piled up so high that people do not often die under a lot of waste, which is a miracle.
Maybe they will.
Yes, there are feces, animals and rotten garbage.
And a pile of old tires; three-
The story tower of the abandoned axle;
A rusty car wreck embedded on the knee
Deep pools of oil and grease.
There's a special place, about half.
An hour's drive from downtown Dakar, where Rufisque bends to the right, merged with the larger South Road, roughly parallel to the location of the new airport highway.
Here, the view opens and presents a scene that comes straight out of Dante: a terrible slum that can't tell where the garbage ends and where people and their homes start.
I first saw the place from the taxi window a few weeks ago when I was driving back to Dakar from the village of Fadiout Island.
Since I have just finished reading Mike Davis's Planet of the slums, it has caught my attention in particular.
"I made a mental snapshot and decided that I would hire a driver the next time I returned to Senegal and then go back and take a closer look.
I did it about a month later.
My escort was to a young wolf named Mustafa Mbaye.
Mustafa, a freelance tour guide, hangs out in the lobby of Sofitel looking for clients.
He speaks English well and knows his way, although he has not yet met a foreigner who is interested in the city's poorest areas.
It turns out that the slum is both a neighbor and a pig farm.
Some houses are for pigs;
The others are for people.
At first glance, you can't (
Or a second browse in some cases)
Tell which is which. (
I am curious about a country that is nominally Muslim.
According to Mustafa, they were mostly eaten by the Christian minority in Senegal. )
People and animals live side by side in dilapidated sheds made of wood, metal and plastic.
Many roofs are nothing more than plastic bags. they are wrapped together and covered with sludge.
What came out of this hell was a pair of rough old trees, whose bark had been stripped off long ago and whose trunk had been stained by smoke and cooking fires.
The broken, leaf-free branch stretched out its claws to the sky.
I visited the slums in Rio, Brazil and the shantytowns in Johannesburg, South Africa.
I saw urban and rural poverty in Mali and Cambodia.
I think while there are a lot of cities that are more desperate than Dakar ---
Lagos, Nigeria-Karachi, Pakistan-
I have never been to such a miserable place.
But the level of poverty is not the key.
The important fact is that most of the world's population now exists in what our Western developed countries call dirty forms.
What the hell is it--is growing.
For the first time in human history, more people lived in cities than in rural areas, and more than one billion people were pushed into slums.
India alone has nearly 50 cities with a population of more than 1 million.
I want to know how many Americans can even name three cities in India.
6 billion people-
The third largest population on Earth-
Can't go to the bathroom.
When Mustafa and I were walking through the maze of sheds, it was clear that some residents did not like the white man who was wandering around with his camera.
We were asked to leave at last.
"They don't understand," said Mustafa.
"They don't know what you want.
"What I want, I guess it's fair, got kicked out because it's hard to justify me being there in the first place in the end.
I know I want to see this place and I know I want to describe it in the column.
Okay, but why, on the one hand, I hope every American can be with me.
Words like "consciousness," "insight," and "perspective" jump all the way to mind.
On the other hand, I feel like a cultural peeps to stimulate-
As they say, in the most primitive and literal sense, slums.
Finally, I'm glad to see it.
I'm glad to leave, too.
Mustafa then took me to a similar area nearby, close to a railway line.
The conditions here are not so dirty, but equally sad ---
Random debris forms a rough, almost comical temporary residence.
On the way back, Mustafa and I were crossing a sand-filled alley next to the train track.
There was a fine fence made of plastic chicken shreds, as tough as a fishing line and we had to climb over.
Someone cut a hole in the fence, which is enough for one person.
Something caught my eye as I crouched to walk.
At my feet there is a small thorn bush about the size of grapefruit, covered with sand and badly wound by wires.
I suspect most people will ignore it and maybe not realize that it is actually a creature.
I recognized it immediately.
This is by African dwarf hedgehog-
Like the one I kept as a pet a few years ago.
I stopped and asked Mustafa to come over.
The hedgehog is still alive, but it is hard to move.
Its front and right legs are wrapped around the shoulders with a seemingly impossible knot, blackened and dislocated.
There is also a wire around the animal's neck that pulls too tight to break the skin and tear the muscles.
It took me 20 minutes to get the hedgehog out of the wire.
Mustafa broke a beer bottle. I used glass fragments as a knife.
I took my leg out first and cut the wire off my neck.
It was chaotic and terrible and I cut myself off.
You can't deliberately tie an object tightly together like this poor creature.
The knot is thick and tight. I want to know if anyone has tied it.
As soon as the hedgehog was free, he climbed a few inches and sat still.
It is too weak to even curl into a barbed protective ball, which is the reflective position of any hedgehog threatened.
Judging from the condition of its legs, I guess it has been there for a few days.
I picked him up and took this picture with Mustafa of my camera.
I decided to bring the hedgehog back to my hotel and didn't know what to do if it survived, which, frankly, seemed questionable.
Mustafa turned out an old burlap cloth and a plastic bag. We put the animals in it.
He endured the long taxi ride and it took me about half an hour to clean him up in the bathroom sink.
I rinse the wound with contact lens solution.
Then I covered him with a towel and put him on the floor near the balcony door.
Unfortunately, the hedgehog died about two hours later.
This could happen anyway, but I was wondering if the sink Bath was too stressful.
I remember a saying that while I can't remember the exact words and who the speaker is, basically, humans will only be as kind or respectful to each other as they are to animals.
I believe, I think.
Or I'm a fool.
I remember that Hitler liked animals very much.
As I packed my bags and prepared to go home, I reflected: I was standing in the worst human poverty on Earth, fighting frantically and saving an injured mammal.
Ironically, it doesn't go away if we call it that.
I want to know if spending so much effort on hedgehog is the right thing or the wrong thing or is there nothing at all ---
It's just a human twitch that has nothing to do with any big background that you don't know.
I don't even know why I told you this story.
It all seems to be linked: the airport; the slum;
Our sense of guilt and contradiction;
The fallacy of goodwill.
There is also an African death, however small. ------------
Do you have a question for salon aviation experts? Contact Patrick Smith through his website and look for answers in future columns.