Peace Corps Part deux: Moroccan Nights

Mandatory Disclaimer: The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. government or people, the Mauritanian government or people, or the Peace Corps.

Friday, July 4, 2008

I see sand

After a week in P.K. 10, I have been exposed to so many new things, people and had so much happen that, I have absolutely no way to begin attempting to describe my past week. Telling any specific story would require so much explanation and setting description that it would be impossible to even follow the story, so I guess I'll just do my best to convey some of the essence of life in one Mauritanian village. Despite some difficulties, I am having a great time, I like the people and the town of P.K. 10, I couldn't ask for a better experience and I am becoming increasingly sure that joining the Peace Corps was the right choice for me.

Last Friday, the Peace Corps van dropped us off in the center of P.K.10 where our host families picked us up. Since we didn't have language class until Sunday and my family spoke only a couple licks of French, I spent the first two days repeating Hassiniya nouns mostly body parts. For some reason, my family decided that the most important words to learn were the body parts and so they would make me repeat the parts of the body over and over again even though I can't imagine a situation where I would need to tell someone that I desperately needed an ear or the key to planting a succussful garden was knowing the Hassiniya word for knee. Eventually I was able to coax a verb out of them, to see, and put together my first Hassiniya sentence: aane reia terrab: (I see sand). One minor note on the difficulty of language learning without a common language is that someone pointed to me and said the word for drink and then pointed at a female trainee and said the feminine word for drink and for the first day I though that the word sherub meant man instead of two drink. Another language note, their is no Hassiniyian word for snow which provided to be difficulty for a fellow trainee. The next day we asked out language instructor and he said they just use the word "glace" which is the French word for ice.

I am staying with a really great, nice family. As far as I can tell, and that's not very far, the family consists of an elderly matriarch who has approximately three teeth, two of her daughters who both have kids even though to my American eyes, I can't see how there is any way that one of them is older than 14. There are a handful of small children running around as well and even though some of them are pushing 5 they apparently feel that pants are completely optional.

Short of writing a novel I don't have time to elaborate on any of these stories but I'd just like to point out that the following things actually happened to me. A boutique owner told another trainnee that she needed to eat to gain weight so she could be fat enough to get a husband before she got wrinkled, after a crazy sandstorm a friend found a cow in his bathroom, a 7-8 year old kid doing an incredible feat of climbing to rescue one of my tennis balls from the roof of a small building, using a dented trash can as a ladder,

It's also interesting to note that there are some things that I do that make me feel incredibly patron even though I would never have thought of these things as the hallmarks of a rich person. My headlamp which I use to help them see while they are cooking dinner will after dark. My notebook that I write down Hassiniya words. People keep looking through my notebook, even though they can't read it, and asking me to read it. I drink a lot of water and even add some gatorade mix and it is really awkward lying under the tent with my nalgene and then leaving to refill it, since that is more than they drink in a day.

That's all for now. Happy 4th of July to everyone.


Blogger Judy said...

Thanks for the posts! As a Mom of another stagiaire I am reading other posts to get a better picture of my son's experience. Ohio is envious of your adventure--except maybe the weather! Keep writing.

July 5, 2008 at 7:11 PM  
Blogger Rocketmn33 said...

hey seth

its good to see that you are getting used to the wonderful world of Mauritania. Nothing much has changed in the wonderful world of rockland. I did receive a brewing kit for my birthday and am currently brewing a fine lager. if it turns out well I will look into getting another one and shipping it out to you. Alright man good luck with training and remember to spread the legends of Rockland.

P.S. I want every Mauritanian to know the official weight of an ultimate frisbee

peace man


July 6, 2008 at 5:02 PM  
Blogger Harry Levinson said...

Great start in documenting an adventure. Keep up the entries so we can learn more about your experiences and other parts of the world. I sure learned alot about St Petersburg from my daughter Hannah's blog...

July 9, 2008 at 3:00 AM  

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