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.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Weddings, Grand Finales and the end of training

With swear-in coming up in a couple days and training wrapping up we are all preparing to move to our permanent sites. I have been training at a rural site and haven’t had much internet access over the past month and a lot if interesting and exciting things have happened and I have learned a lot about Mauritania that I would like to write about but in the interest of time and space so I will try and write about a few of the more interesting events.

Only a few days ago one of my fellow trainees sister got married. My first clue that the wedding would not be like a typical American wedding was the day before the wedding when we saw a live camel being taken out of a van and tied to a tree in the center of town. Around noon the next day I was lounging under the family tent like usual when someone came over with a plate of delicious camel meat. As soon as we finished ravishing that plate we had another plate came with more camel meat, some sort of fancy rice and a few vegetables. After that meal we had our three cups of tea it felt a lot like heaven. The wedding itself was under a huge tent and most of the time consisted of a hundred or two hundred people sitting under the tent and watching 1, 2, or 6 people dance. The dancing was nothing like any dancing I have ever seen before and consisted mainly of the dancers moving their arms with the long fabric of the traditional Mauritanian bubu’s or mulefa’s. After approximately 3 million 7 hundred and 64 people commanded me to “irgiss,” “irgiss,” “irgiss” (dance) I along with the other American’s did a couple of in my opinion lame dance moves that the crowd loved. My dancing couldn’t compete with one guy who didn’t have legs, possibly due to polio although I can’t be sure, who walked and danced on his hands. I think he was with the musical group and he was an incredible dancer.

Another exciting event was the soccer final. All of the towns around Rosso fielded a team for the local soccer tournament. Every day there was a match or two, which culminated in the championship pitting the favorites from Rosso vs. The upstart talents from P.K.9 (I had my training in P.K. 10 one more kilometer up the road but for all intents and purposes it was the same town). There was a huge crowd at the game and everybody was decked it out in their best outfits and bluest gums (that’ll be another entry later). People were selling cookies and balbasticks (little plastic bags filled with frozen flavored water, kind of like a popsicle). The game was close and really competitive. After regulation ended in a tie, it was time for penalty kicks. Everybody made a circle around the goal with the players inside the circle. P.K. 9 managed to pull out a victory in penalty kicks and the crowd went crazy. Everybody mobbed the players and a huge group took a victory tour running through town and chanting about the greatness of P.K. 9. I appreciate the victory because it took the center of attention away from the strange foreigners and placed it on the soccer stars.

I guess that’s about all of the space I have for now but once I get to site in about a week I should have pretty good internet access so if you have any questions or comments just shoot me an email. Also people tend to glamorize Peace Corps as thrilling and exciting and it is, but there is also a lot of downtime. If anyone has any suggestions for interesting, fun or creative ways to kill time or new skills I can acquire with time please let me know. Especially now with Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting, coming up I will have a lot of free time so suggestions are appreciated


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