Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Big Changes

Thanks to a slew of incidents and probably a massive flood of parental concern hitting the levy of Washington that separates us from the States we have been offered IS here in Mauritania. For those of you not in the Peace Corps vernacular that means Interrupted Service. What this really means is the option to just go home and receive at least half the credit of a completed service.
Through many miles of deliberation, my mind wandered and I could not justify taking the offer to return home. Although I have a number of problems here in Mauritania, I don't feel as though I am finished with this place or this place is finished with me. I believe that I could still leave a lasting impact here. I want to be here and that's actually a change I did not see coming. The feeling of ownership has finally hit me here and I can't leave all the good relationships I've built among Mauritanians and American volunteers.
In total we lost 21 volunteers and without the incoming class--a whole different blog--we are reduced to only 47 volunteers at present. It will be a long kinda lonely year, but we have the resolve and fortitude to stick it out.

Bamako Blackouts

Well the vacation in Mali was absolutely incredible! What an amazing country with development in mind and the improvement of it's peoples' lives at the heart of their purpose. The contrast between Mauritania and Mali is so amazing that it blows the mind. Mark McMurray, a region mate of mine, and I left Mauritania on May 21 and arrived in Dogon shortly after the 30th of May became the 31st of May. Dogon is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen, been in, be blessed to walk through. If you happen to find yourself in West Africa at anytime in your life it is an absolute must that you explore this ancient and incredible region of the world. The people of this region live almost as they did 500 years ago.
Mark and I ventured our way back to Bamako where we had tickets waiting to see my first professional soccer match. A world cup qualifier between Mali and Ghana filled its billing as an intense spectacle of sport. 65,000 crazed soccer fans made the concrete of the stadium pulsate with their own anxieties. Although Ghana won, 2-0, the experience was an amazing one indeed!
As for the partying aspect, Bamako proved to be all it has been hyped to be, I was in no way disappointed with the options available for food or drink; a kick ass town!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Just Gross

 It's all my fault to be honest, leaving site for such a stretch. Whenever I do come into town, the kids like to play 'what can we throw in the Nassaranis' window?' Usually it's just a bunch of random trash, maybe a used battery or two. This past period away brought a new step in their determination to make me miserable in the clean up phase. This time around the little bastard boys decided to leave me a dead cat in my room. I'm not sure how long it had been there, but I would venture to say over a week. In spirits of comedy I gathered the dead cat with a shovel, walked out into the sand dune and flung the decomposing body. 
 Since I haven't had a tolerable toilet since December I have been using the sands as my own liter box. Each night I wander out, dig a little hole, do the deed and bury it. On this particular moment of need I ventured to my usual spot, undid my chiyas and began to rid my body of the rice and beans we had for lunch that day. With the gentle night breeze came a horrific smell. I looked around trying to locate where it might be coming from. I looked behind my squatting legs and noticed that I had just pooped on the dead cat I had flung earlier that afternoon. Just makes me love Africa that much more. Ha. 

Friday, March 6, 2009

The Latest Word

So I must apologize to everyone for being such a lax writer.
Things have been going along as well as can be expected, the village life is just a little tougher than I had originally thought it ever would be. I'm just breathing and that's the best form of success. As for my projects, well they are planned and now I'm starting to beg for money. It would be so much easier if we could tap into the developmental money set aside from our own government, but alas we in the PC have to beg instead our family and friends, dah well.
I really wish I had more to say, but at present I'm just drained. I promise to get a few more typed out asap.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

America Matters

Here in Mauritania you hear it in every boutique, on every market street, each corner where dirt paths converge; today is election day in the U.S. If you're living there you know how important this election is for the American public, economy and status in the world. I'm in one of the poorest most remote locations in the world and even here they know how important this election is. A large majority of the world's financial and humanitarian aide comes in the form of U.S dollars. Although the European Community is beginning to contribute more and more and bringing the variance within reach, America is still the most generous nation in the world. The people here who are receiving these funds know how valuable the American contribution is. I hope you all considered how important international assistance is and how it is truly the cornerstone of diplomacy. Making this as one of your important issues to think about when voting is an investment in the peace and security of our collective future.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Happenings

Just a little update on what I've actually accomplished...
Well to be honest, not a whole hell of a lot. The first month was spent just trying to figure out how to live. The rhythms of life, the functions of the people, the responsibilities of each family and the members within it. Language is still a very sturdy barrier, that received much attention in the early goings as it will continue to receive such attentions.
I've made some good relations in the villages so far, not as many as I'd like, but I'm the first white person to live there, so it will take a little longer to move past the novelty of my presence. I've finally gotten most of the kids to stop being afraid of me. Since I'm the tallest person in the village by nearly a head have a heavy tendency to gawk and the giant white thing. I know that it will all come in time-pray for some patience to come my way.
My first project will be to establish a tree nursery. As far as I can tell, the biggest problem is the lack of tree coverage. Minimal shade, lets the sun bake the soils of their gardens into useless dust. Also with a lack of trees the winds have the few vegetables at their mercy and are bringing the sand dunes down from the north. I hope to have a significant number of trees growing successfully for the next volunteer to instruct the people in their various uses.
Hopefully a well project will follow the nursery. With the rapid growth of the 4 neighborhoods that comprise my little slice of the world, the water supply will be outpaced relatively soon. By getting a well constructed in the next year, hopefully we can buy some time for villages to address this problem themselves without the twinge of resource competition challenging their judgments.
Whatever come after that is yet to be thought of and seen, but I'm sure I'll get bored enough and think of some other cool, back braking activities to throw myself into.

Going Mongol (Blazing Saddles)

October 2nd

This admission enters only because it is the type of thing I will laugh at later and you will hopefully laugh at now.

Last night a major wind and lighting storm descended on us, not by any means out of the ordinary. As usual it drove the animals into close proximity to my part of the village. My house and sleeping hangar, being the first ring of structures as you enter into the village, is one of the most assaulted by the scratching donkeys.

The donkeys love rubbing against the corners of my hangars low tin roof, both damaging it and making a God awful racket. After about the 6th ass took choice in scratching itself at my displeasure I got up to shew away the ones that I could see near. They all scattered when the unintentioned rock was thrown near them, but one. That One had the audacity to stand there waiting for me to leave. I strolled over to it, thing it would run, it didn't. The Ass just stared at me; saying to me, "What are you gonna do about it, biped?"

A flash of memory from Blazing Saddles struck me and I pulled a Mongol. Throwing a right-cross into the left side of the donkeys' face. God it felt good! It stumbled and back tracked away.

--That's right donkey, that's right! I think I'm crackin'.