If you happen to travel to West Africa, specifically Senegal, you will no doubt find yourself in the capital, Dakar. Here you will witness a real African city, a true mixture of luxury and dilapidation, wealth and poverty.
On the outskirts, along the Atlantic Ocean, are lavish homes, posh hotels, and many seaside restaurants, all of which cater to tourists and the upper crust of Senegalese society. In the center, the palatial grounds of the prime minister and president are equally luxe.
But venture in any direction inland or on the many roads leading away from the central plaza and you will find a dusty, dirty, dilapidated mess of rundown buildings, piles of garbage and people in need.
It's a really tough pill to swallow for the traveler, but once you meander through distinct neighborhoods, such as the Medina, you will encounter a certain livelihood, a city with a real soul. People work, live, eat and play together, building a real sense of community.
Dakar is a city that seems so disheveled and run down at first glance, but one where if you dig down deeper, offers a cultural immersion into a way of life that seldom exists anymore in our big westernized cities. While it is not exactly a breath of fresh air, it certainly is an eye-opening experience.