Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Day number 790 as a volunteer, 1 day left

Finally, I never thought I would be in Nouakchott, knowing I will never have to go back to my village. The new volunteer who is going to replace me is a guy named Greg from St. Louis. We visited my site last week, it wasn't too encouraging. There is a small group of people in my village that will accept a volunteer and most of them were on vacation. I hope that they have returned by the time Greg finishes his training and moves to Nbeika in late September.
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.

5 Comments:

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11:03 AM  
Blogger whoami123 said...

.

We work like a horse.
We eat like a pig.
We like to play chicken.
You can get someone's goat.
We can be as slippery as a snake.
We get dog tired.
We can be as quiet as a mouse.
We can be as quick as a cat.
Some of us are as strong as an ox.
People try to buffalo others.
Some are as ugly as a toad.
We can be as gentle as a lamb.
Sometimes we are as happy as a lark.
Some of us drink like a fish.
We can be as proud as a peacock.
A few of us are as hairy as a gorilla.
You can get a frog in your throat.
We can be a lone wolf.
But I'm having a whale of a time!

You have a riveting web log
and undoubtedly must have
atypical & quiescent potential
for your intended readership.
May I suggest that you do
everything in your power to
honor your encyclopedic/omniscient
Designer/Architect as well
as your revering audience.
As soon as we acknowledge
this Supreme Designer/Architect,
Who has erected the beauteous
fabric of the universe, our minds
must necessarily be ravished with
wonder at this infinate goodness,
wisdom and power.

Please remember to never
restrict anyone's opportunities
for ascertaining uninterrupted
existence for their quintessence.

There is a time for everything,
a season for every activity
under heaven. A time to be
born and a time to die. A
time to plant and a time to
harvest. A time to kill and
a time to heal. A time to
tear down and a time to
rebuild. A time to cry and
a time to laugh. A time to
grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones
and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a
time to turn away. A time to
search and a time to lose.
A time to keep and a time to
throw away. A time to tear
and a time to mend. A time
to be quiet and a time to
speak up. A time to love
and a time to hate. A time
for war and a time for peace.

Best wishes for continued ascendancy,
Dr. Whoami

P.S. One thing of which I am sure is
that the common culture of my youth
is gone for good. It was hollowed out
by the rise of ethnic "identity politics,"
then splintered beyond hope of repair
by the emergence of the web-based
technologies that so maximized and
facilitated cultural choice as to make
the broad-based offerings of the old
mass media look bland and unchallenging
by comparison."

7:49 PM  
Blogger Sterling and Catriona said...

Hi, Andy.
Sterling here. Are you getting this? I'm trying to track you down - seyates@yahoo.com is my address. It's been so long since we've been in touch. I tried to reach your parents in Geyserville but their email address isn't working. Write if you get this.
I'm in Scotland these days, with Catriona.
Sterling

6:31 AM  
Blogger Mike Sheppard said...

Andy,

I just came across your journal about your adventures in Mauritania. I added a link to your page to a database I collected of Peace Corps Journals and blogs:

http://www.PeaceCorpsJournals.com/

Features:
1. Contains over 1,300 journals and blogs from Peace Corps Volunteers serving around the world.
2. The main page is user-friendly. There are regional-specific pull-down menus to select your country of choice.
3. Clicking on the actual word of the region on the main page brings to an encyclopedia article specific to that region.
4. Each country has its own detailed page that can directly linked to, and which are easily accessible with a possible slow Internet connection within the field. (In other words, no fancy graphics that take forever to load up in the middle of Africa)
5. A detailed map for every country that becomes interactive, via Google, once clicked on.
6. Facts, Encyclopedia articles, and Peace Corps specific web pages for each country is available through following one of four links at the bottom of each map.
7. A list of the entire staff of Peace Corps worldwide, with contact information, on every country-specific page.
8. Official rules and regulations for PCV Journals and blogs in the “More Information” menu.
9. Links to Graduate School Programs affiliated with Peace Corps, and RPCVs Regional Associations.
10. There is an e-mail link on every page. If you want to add a Journal, spotted a dead link, or have a comment.

Thanks for volunteering with the Peace Corps!

-Mike Sheppard
RPCV / The Gambia

7:36 PM  
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