I am home once again. The road to get me here has been a long one. I’m gonna try and recount it. Unfortunately the only thing my memory is renowned for is its feebleness. Well, no harm in trying…

2005/04/17 Nouakchott Kiffa 7.5hr 0um

About two years ago now a $80,000 computer center went into the high school in Aioun as part of a project with the EDDI. Their internet connection went mysteriously dead about four months ago and Mauritel claims it is not their fault.

The thing is that for it to not be their fault, the configuration on the router would need to have changed. A router is a pretty simple piece of equipment. For it to up and spontaneously change its configuration with no external influence is highly unlikely. More than likely the problem is coming from the telco. The problem is that I am completely unfamiliar with how exactly to prove that. And prove that I need to do, because as it is, they claim that it is our fault and therefore owe them for the nonworking line.

I hunted around town for someone who could help me understand what I needed to do, but to no avail. I found some stuff on the internet, but it all required equipment I didn’t have access to. Even though I didn’t really know what I was doing, as resident geek it was my responsibility to go, so off I went. I was lucky enough to catch a ride with a Peace Corps mission headed that way.

I spend the day chatting with the new SED APCD and a Fulbright doing research on the effectiveness of different aid methods. They proved pretty entertaining and the nice air conditioned 4×4 even more so. We arrived in the evening in Kiffa to some lovely stew and brownies prepared by the volunteers. (Another perk of traveling with bureau staff.)

After a congenial night of 80’s music and conversation we retired to the roof. Roof access is by way of freakishly steep stairway that did serious damage to my shins every time I attempted to scale it. Fortunately, I was not adversely affected by the change in water and lasted the night without having to descend the thing in haste.

2005/04/18 Kiffa Aioun 4.5hr 2000um

Bright and early the next morning Fulbright Kristen and I headed off for Aioun. She needed to do some checking for her project and I needed to start playing with the internet. Leaving was lots of fun. We got the garage and asked the guy how many people were left to fill the car. “Just two,” he replied, with an indistinct wave when asked where the others were. We told him that if he got the others and loaded the car, then we’d give him our money. He grumbled a bit and wandered off. Then we talked to someone else who was also “pret à partir,” but who couldn’t produce his phantom passengers. We made a general announcement that we’d take two places in the first car ready to go and went to sit down.

About twenty minutes later a third guy left with only us in the hopes of picking up passengers. This is not a bad plan. Mauritanians are still a fairly nomadic people and there are little settlements scattered all over the place. No one owns a car, so people just come and sit by the road and hitch when they want to get into town. Our Mercedes had the requisite six people for about 90% of the voyage. Also, I don’t know if it is in punishment for being major supporters in the last coup or what, but the road between Kiffa and Aioun is one of the worst I’ve been on. We drove on the sand beside the road most of the way because it was smoother.

I spent my day playing around at the lycee not really knowing what I was doing. I did fix a couple software problems and poking at the modem and router, but to no real avail. I got the manufacturer and model number off of it, but Patton’s site was down. So, I retired back to Hector and Genny’s largely defeated.

The next morning, the crew that we’d left behind in Kiffa caught up and we did breakfast for them. We’ve got a volunteer in Rosso working on a charcoal production. My brief stint as pancake chef proved I could likely show him a thing or two. I was quickly relieved and set to reposing on a matela where I was less likely to do myself or our repast any harm.

My day was spent hanging out with Jarad and trying to figure the internet bit out. No luck though. GTZ had a working connection and we went by to see if they’d let us look at it to get some info on the settings. Unfortunately the next day was Mohammed’s birthday and their IT guy was out of town for the long weekend. So, I left Jarad with a list of questions for the guy, fixed GTZ’s printer, installed some nice language software and called it a day.

2005/04/20 Aioun Aleg 8hr 0um
Aleg Carefour Boghé 1.5hr 500um + 200um
Carefour Boghé Boghé Dow .5hr 250um / 2

The next morning we got up and headed back toward Nouakchott. I got off in Aleg and headed South to Boghé. I was planning on spending some time looking at some computers and monkey hunting.

Monkey hunt was unsuccessful despite my expertly carved spear. Even the computer fixing didn’t work out. The machine was an old Dell server with a SCSI controller I couldn’t get to boot from a CD. So, a frustrating time.

I did manage to watch fifteen movies over the course of four days between Aioun and Boghé. Spiderman 2 was as good as the first I thought. The Terminal was a bit idealized, but if I accepted it as such it was entertaining. The Bourne Supremacy didn’t really grab me. I, Robot did. And Super Troopers I found quite entertaining. I was surprised I’d never heard of it before coming here.


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