It was nearly one a.m. when I stepped off a plane and stumbled into the international airport in Dakar, Senegal.
I’d been here many times before, but it always took a moment to regain my bearings. Everywhere I turned, a different guy offered to help with my bags—a series of offers I didn’t need, since I always travel light—but the persistent porters were hard to turn down. A shouting match erupted between two of the men. I knew what the stakes were: Whoever served as my escort would be eligible for the tip.
I picked out one of the porters at random and followed him to a small alcove above the shouting crowd. A couple of plastic chairs were nailed to the floor. “Here,” he told me in French. “You can stay here and sleep.” I looked at the chairs, paid off the guy, and set up camp for what I knew would be a long night.