The story thus far…

In a writing mood today, so here we go.

This morning was fairly productive for the time I’ve spent here thus far in Aleg. I was the first awake. I have been staying in the regional house. There are 7 of us here now. Only one girl, Janna, actually lives here, but some of us have either not found a house to live in, or there are others who are passing through. Thus is the purpose of a regional house in each region’s capital. So I was able to snatch the internet early this morning. It is somewhat of a prized commodity in the house. On average, the waiting list is 3-6 people. Waking up before everyone else is so nice because it’s so quiet. I feel like I can actually reflect on what I am in the midsts of, something I feel I won’t fully grasp until, actually, who knows when. After a quick breakfast of leftover rice, Joel, Sean, Ashley and I walked to the big market. Let me take this moment to explain aleg, alittle.  It is somewhat of a town that most people pass through. Known for it’s incredible meshwi (the closest thing you’ll find to american bbq), no one really stops in Aleg to see the sites, is what I’m saying. However, it does spread out quite a bit once you get away from the main road. It has houses. The houses here have compound walls. It has schools, which are all deserted since it’s still summer, and even more so now because it’s Ramadan. It has boutiques, vegetable stands. Since we are in the rainy season, we have access to bananas, apples, dates, grapes, watermelon, mangos, and I even saw oranges. These of course are all probably imported from senegal. I’m currently trying to figure out how to dry fruit, cause then, well, I could eat it during the dry season. Anyway, back to my morning adventure. We went and found my counterpart’s house. I found out where to buy wood, which will come in handy when I need to make shelves, or tables, or really anything that requires lumber. We went groccery shopping. I asked the woman if she was fasting, really just to make conversation, and she said yes, and then asked me, and I said no, and so she asked why, and i said because I’m not muslim, and she then asked why I was wearing a mulaffa then, and I was stumped, and had to switch into french really quick, to explain i respect their culture, but i’m not muslim. I don’t know if she was convinced, either that, or she didn’t speak french. At the boutique near Sean’s house, the owner said I spoke Hassaniya the best out of the new volunteers, which was encouraging, and then he proceeded to use the word for Mauritanian as a verb, and said that the old volunteers turned Mauritanian quite quickly. He was refering to how quickly they picked up the language. I hope I follow suit. Next, this random man who we intersected coming home asked if we were Americans and if we could give english lessons to him, since he’s so found of foreigners, and really wants to learn. I got his phone number. If he persues it, maybe he can trade lessons in Hassaniya and French.

Back at the house, we ate a delicious lunch. Beans with a mango salsa. Tonight we are making bagels for dinner. Last night it was mash potatoes. I’m beginning to be quite fond of these one food complete meals. Anyway, that’s enough for now.


2 Responses to “The story thus far…”

  1. Sophia-your soulmate Says:

    Hey Amanda, are you getting a new mailing address different from the one you posted earlier?
    You’re so awesome!

  2. P. Harper Dillon Says:

    good post amanda!! you conveyed a powerful sense of the place and I know what yoou mean about human settlements in noone’s vactions plans, the destination of only trucks supplying the people with what they don’t produce themselves. Do you have any idea what that ratio might be.. Lot’s of trade with Senegal? etc. I was also wondering about the “compound walls” you mentioned. Do you have any idea if those compounds contain extended families? Well, you’re not there to produce an ethnography but some of that kind of information might prove useful for understanding the dynamics of local politics and you might find that useful.

    So you’re Mauritaniaizing, I’m so envious that you are becoming fluent in a non-European language. I wish I spoke Quechua as well as you must be speak, ah, I always forget its name.

    Hope to talk to you soon, might try to call you today, maybe you can schedule some internet time.

    On to your latest post.

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