Day number 790 as a volunteer, 1 day left
My counterpart didn't find new housing like I told him to. Technically, the villages are supposed to provide housing for the volunteers. I would have settled for getting a house for the same price that a Mauritanian would pay. My counterpart suggested the family that I lived with for my last 6 months. Except, they decided to charge 10,000 UM a month and 1/3 of the water bill. The last part about paying part of the water bill is nothing but a slap in the face, with the Moor system, things are never calculated out to the last penny, round it off, forget the change, handshake, slap on the back and you’re all set.
The fact that my former landlord went to the trouble to haggle at such a ridiculously high price is the most polite thing for him to do in his culture, but to us Americans it seems like they are trying to show us up.
At this point, I blame Peace Corps, they really don’t have any idea how to place a volunteer with certain tribes. It’s not that the people of Nbeika don’t want to do a certain thing, they literally are missing the ability to comprehend logic. If they have not heard of a thing or haven’t done it before, then 99 times out of 100, they will just refuse it like it doesn’t even exist. Mostly, I am talking about the idea of an American coming and living at their level. For this to happen, the volunteer will not be able to pay to the “Nasarani” tax, which involves trying to charge Americans and Europeans twice as much, and in a place like my village they will do that to any outsider including other Africans. That fact makes me feel a little better. But, there is no way a volunteers can continue to survive or even hope to accomplish any work unless the people give the volunteer the same treatment as anyone else. I told my replacement that if he continues to have trouble he should put in for a site change as soon as possible. He already said the community is not a “welcoming place”.
It’s so funny how some people in the administration and some volunteers spent two years implying that somehow I was doing something wrong…I thought, hey maybe I am going about this all wrong, so I would try new stuff, try to meet new people and as far as I can tell it didn’t get me anywhere, except through two years.
So, tomorrow is my last official day as a volunteer. I finished all of my paperwork today, so I don’t even have to show up at the office tomorrow, woo-hoo!.
Daily life remains the same here in Nouakchott since the coup, except there are anti-aircraft machine guns mounted on the back of military trucks and these are spread throughout the city. The soldiers are friendly enough though, they usually greet us when we walk by. The morning of September 2 I fly out to Casablanca, Morocco. From there I am taking a bus up to Barcelona, Spain. I have a reservation to fly to Shannon, Ireland. From there it’s about 6 hours to my Uncle Tony’s house in Glengariff. I can almost taste the Guinness from here.