I’ve finally contracted the Toubab disease, so I’m going to take advantage of this opportunity to vent about a number of Mauritanian absurdities/annoyances:
1. Toubab disease: a mysterious illness inflicting all (Western) foreigners living in Mauritania at one point or another, usually multiple times, and resulting in such pleasant symptoms as diarrhea and/or vomiting. No one knows the ultimate cause or origin of the Toubab disease.
2. The wildlife: various animals which roam freely through the streets in large numbers, consisting of donkeys, goats, chickens of a wide variety, dogs and cats, roaches, flies, spiders, and the occasional rat.
You have not known fear if you have never been awoken from a deep sleep by a donkey braying outside your bedroom window. This also applies to rooster crows and dog/cat fights. The aforementioned occur regularly, though donkeys tend to suffer conniptions during napping hours whereas dog/cat fights usually take place in the late night and rooster crows at an ungodly hour of the morning.
Armies of flies invade the house when the temperature rises above 85 degrees, which usually occurs at the break of dawn. Little short of a power washer will clear them out until the temperature drops again.
3. The walking circus: by that I mean us, the Toubabs. Whether we are walking, talking, or enjoying a mango in the peace and quiet of our own room, we manage to attract a crowd. Usually involving several dozen small children, these crowds will gather behind you as you walk, around you as you talk, or in your bedroom window as you eat, screaming, “Toubab! Toubab!” or “Bonjour, Madame!” regardless of whether you are, in fact, a woman.
These children are also carriers of what are commonly referred to as “jam hands” by the local Toubabs. Most notably contracted through the very messy eating of bread and jam, jam hands include all small hands covered in a slimy, sticky, often unidentifiable substance. Jam hands are highly contagious, as they are regularly thrust in your direction for a handshake in conjunction with the ritual screaming of, “Bonjour, Madame!”
Stay tuned for regular episodes of “Things That Annoy The Hell Out Of Me In Mauritania” or TTATHOOMIM. This acronym is also likely a word in Hassaniya which I will never manage to correctly pronounce.
There, I feel much better now. :)
In all seriousness though, I do love why I’m here and what I’ll hopefully succeed in doing. So, while there will surely be many more additions to this post, I’m glad I’m here, and I can only hope that a good sense of humor (among a great many other things) will carry me through. And to even things out (and keep Mom from worrying too much), I’ll make sure to post on all the great things about Mauritania soon.
Love you guys!