Archive for Peace Corps

Coup In Mauritania

Well, it seems as though Mauritania has had another coup.

After the coup while I was there, there was a real potential for instability and a power grap for the newly deloping oil money. I was proud of Mauritania as a country when the junta responsible for the coup disallowed themselves from being a part of the elections and a new president was chosen in peaceful and free elections.

The current controversy seems to be over an innappropriate exercise of “personal power” having to do with the President and his cabinet. I attempted to get more info from my favorite paper while in Mauritania, the Nouakchott Info, but the site is down at the moment (and I don’t really speak French anymore in any case).

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Gatorade

Just so that no one else need discover this on their own, ampoule eating four quarts worth of Gatorade powder will make your tongue bleed.

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Chemchoune El Arab

I’ve been a bit remiss in getting updates written. This means that memorable events such as the tcheub-u-jen eating contest and my subsequent failed attempt at bulimia will be left to no better record than my abysmal memory. Oh well, so it goes… ☺


Chemchoune El Arab, l’un des grandes, one of the greats. Chemchoune is the Arabic form of Samson, and the man is fixture in the mythos of Mauritania. I’d heard tales of his feats of strength from past volunteers, but had given up hope of actually seeing him perform. Much to my pleasure did I notice a poster featuring a big man with a handlebar mustache performing feats of strength and fortitude. In one corner he was buried under a pile of rocks, another showed him pulling a car with his teeth and a third with him swarmed with children. My pulse quickened, as this looked like the Chemchoune of lore, but the poster was in Arabic, so I couldn’t be sure.

A short time later though, I saw the same poster, but this time in French. It was Chemchoune and he was going to be performing at one of the local basketball courts on Saturday! So, 16h Saturday saw myself and a group of interested volunteers at the Stade Sebkah.

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Épreuve des Fatayers

This past Wednesday, May 25th, was Africa Day. It is a celebration of the various African nations’ independence from colonial rule and marks the day in 1963 when the Organization of African Unity was formed. The OAU has since become just the AU, but we’ve still got the day.

School was out and the Peace Corps bureau was closed in celebration. So, seeking to find an activity that properly embraced the Africa Day ideals of freedom, liberty and self-determination, we decided to have a fatayer eating contest. Fatayers are a magical food that, much like the peoples of Africa, come in a variety of shapes and sizes. What unifies them all together is their ground meat filling and fried doughy exterior. The meat can be camel or goat or even beef. The bread might be light and fluffy or dense or crispy and flaky. It all makes no difference; if there is meat, bread and frying: you’ve got a fatayer.

The particular fatayers for our challenge were from Snak Irak. The dough is fairly light, about the consistency of a hotdog bun. The meat is goat, I think. Triangular, about four inches on a side and at about a pound of well-greased heft; they are a hearty meal. They are sort of big though and a bit intimidating, so we only had three contestants:

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Bismuth

I skipped breakfast and the only edible thing in my lab is a box of Pepto-Bismol tablets in my bag. Can one overdose on pink bismuth? Say for instance if one were to eat ten of them over a six hour period of working on the computer? Well, I’ll know soon enough. ☺

This reminds me of being a kid and going on a Flinstones’ vitamins binge. They say that the worst that resulted from that was some minor liver damage. Mmm, Dino…

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Rturn

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.

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Yippie

Gave my exams. Most of the students are going to pass. Kick ass. Off to go hang out and put an end to my sabbatical.

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WAIST 2005 — Part #4

Ahh, all done: one, two, three and this is four. A grand total of:

Words: 7717
Paragraphs: 100
Characters: 40177

Jesus, I’m long winded…

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Buts

I’ve been spending the day spinning my wheels pretty much. I’m trying to get the firewall configured for my lab, but every time I make a little progress I hit another wall. Right now the perl script for adding users to the samba domain controller is choking on the unicode characters in the LDAP distinguished name. Doesn’t that just figure?

Anyhow, I’ve also been ramping up to finish our semester one class. I was hoping to do it tonight and I told all the students we would be, but in looking at the info I’d have to cover it just isn’t going to happen. I’m really not sure how this is going to work out. I’ve got a couple really good attentive students who have been coming to class. It really does make a world of difference to have at least one or two students who come to class and seem to give a damn.

For the others, I don’t know what to do other than fail them. People can usually manage to squeeze by here, but this time it is going to be tough. I don’t decide on the curriculum and I don’t make the exams. There really is a huge amount of information to learn. I sent the lists of goals to them today to maybe put a bit of a scare into some of them and get them to come to class.

Les Buts de Cisco Semestre 1:

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Balance

I’ve been looking back over my entries and it appears that I do nothing but party anymore. This is only mostly true. I do occasionally pretend to be mildly productive. For example, today and tomorrow I am finishing up my semester one class. I need to write out my prep for tonight and I figured I’d do it here to demonstrate that I am occasionally productive. I also find it interesting, and perhaps the geekier among you might be of accord.

It is written in my horrible excuse for French and I apologize to the entire nation of France ahead of time for the butchering. I can’t spell for shit because so many French words have silent consonants at the end and I almost exclusively speak. I’ll get a dictionary and fix it up later…

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