Lighthouse of Breasts

How often do you get a chance to go inside a working lighthouse? They’re usually “Restricted Areas”, too noisy with all the machinery or the interesting parts are sealed and automated. But not “Le Phare des Mamelles” (the lighthouse of breasts) in Dakar, Senegal. How can one resist such a name? Right?
The best part was the guide, who’s also the lighthouse operator. He was passionate, enthusiastic and bubbly. He was telling us about the history of lighthouses when Alexandria got mentioned. I said “I’m from there”. His face lit up, I was the very first Egyptian he met in real life.
He lives in the lighthouse and operates it by hand. Every day at sunset, he goes upstairs, opens the curtains and turns the light and machinery on. When the sun comes out, he goes upstairs, turns the light and equipment off and closes the curtains. There are many mirrors around the light to help reflect and spread it far and wide. With sunlight, those mirrors focus the heat and can shatter the glass structure housing the light. When we visited, during the day, everything was off and we got up close and personal with the inner workings of an operational lighthouse! What a treat!
I had always thought that the light in lighthouses flicker on and off like the turn signal in the car. Now, thanks to our amazing guide, I learnt that the light actually stays on the whole time. But there’s a 4 sided glass and metal box that revolves around the light. From the outside, we see the light through the glass, but when the light is behind the metal part, we don’t see it. So it’s peekaboo “now you see me, now you don’t” kind of trick.
Why the curious name? There are 2 hills in Dakar: one has the Renaissance Monument and the other Le phare des Mamelles. Because they’re close to each other, they look like breasts (if you’re a giant) and are called the breasts (Les Mamelles). Now the curious part is that the lighthouse is not at the edge of the water, like most lighthouses. It’s actually inland inside the city. Not all lighthouses are created equal. Live and learn, travel and learn more!

#senegal #dakar #lighthouse #pharedemamelles #mamelleslighthouse #africa #westafrica #guide #lighthouseofbreasts #travelblog #travelstories #traveladventure #travelphotography

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