Wednesday, July 2, 2008


Toubab! Toubab! That's what the little kids in the street yell when the see us. By "us" I mean myself and the other 75 Americans wandering around the city. You think they'd get used to us, but we're just as much a spectacle here as we were two weeks ago.

I'm at homestay now, which means I'm living with a family. You can see my room in the picture: my matle, which is what I sleep on, my mosquito net, you can see my water filter in the back lefthand corner. I bought a fan the other day, which was pretty much the best purchase I've ever made, and my house has running water!
All in all, I've been pleasantly surprised by my homestay. My family consists of a mom (Miriame), two boys and two girls. I'm not exactly sure how one of the girls is related to the family, and Miriame keeps talking about her kid's Dad who apparently is in some other city doing who knows what. The two boys are really young and think I'm like the funniest thing ever. The girls are older, probably about 12, and they help me practice my language. (By the way, I'm learning Hassaniya, which is exactly what I wanted!) My mom speaks some French, but she's got a really heavy accent, so I have no idea what's going on half the time. It's cool, though, I just chill.

Here's a day in my life: I wake up around 7:00, get ready for class, and my friend Sia comes by the house to walk with me to class. I have a Hassaniya lesson with four other trainees from 8-12:30, and then we all go home for lunch. I usually hang out with the family for an hour before lunchtime watching TV and practicing whatever fun phrases I learned that morning, such as: "Good morning," and "What work do you do?" I'm pretty sure this is the most entertaining part of the day for the kids. They don't do much cause they're out of school for the summer. The mom is an Arabic teacher, but during the summer she pretty much just lays around. Literally. They don't do furniture in Mauritania, and the women just don't do anything. They lay around on the floor and watch Bollywood or cheesy Spanish soap operas. All day. I don't know how they do it. On the other hand, its too freaking hot to do anything other than lay around between the hours of 11:00 and 4:00 anyway, so I don't blame them.

Back to class at 4:00 until 6, then I'll hang out with some other trainees until 7 or 8, head home, hang with the fam, eat dinner around 9 or 10, and then retire to my sweet room. Seriously, my room may look spartan in the picture, but I've got a fan and my computer and I rock the West Wing in there at night like it's my job. :)

The only thing I can really complain about is the fact that my mom doesn't understand the concept of being full. In Mauritania, fat women are attractive, so girls are encouraged to eat their faces off. And the food here is heavy stuff, soaked in oil. Whenever I stop eating, my mom gives me this evil look and says "Mange! Mange!" which means, "Eat! Eat!" I'm pretty sure she thinks they starve their women in America. I've explained to her that I don't actually want to gain 50 pounds over my 2 month stay with her, and she's grudgingly accepted that. But I'm pretty sure she thinks I'm emaciated.

Other than that, things are really going well. 7 hours of language class a day is a little intense, but it's necessary, and at the very least it gives me something to do during the day. They say training is the toughest part of our 27 months here. I can definitely see why, but at this point its all I know, and it's not nearly as bad as I was preparing myself for.

Hope all is well back home. I miss you all!


pharbor said...

Curious to know what the reaction to my visit would be . . . anyone comparably, um, fair-skinned with you?

Anonymous said...

Good to see your post sweetheart! Your room looks fabulous... Good to hear about the family there and a little about your day to day routine. I'm excited for you about the language immersion.

I think I am going to treat the blog as a regular letter and an opportunity to give you news from home.

Well, first and foremost we all miss you to say the least. Tomorrow is our anniversary, no definate plans yet on what we'll do but it most certainly will be something fun.

I've been flirting with the idea of resurfacing the driveway again. The ants are drving me nuts with the orange clay they keep bringing up through the cracks. So I'm getting ready to seal them in. I can be soooo cruel.

Boris is good. Temperatures are hot and his fur has grown back from the last grooming so he spends much time laying around a lot. Kind of like the women in Muaritani and for the same reasons too. I'm thinking about getting him clipped again but Lucas says it's too weird when he is bare and to let it grow. Still thinking about it.

love, Mom

Elisa said...

So good to hear from you and learn a little bit more about your day to day life. It must be very tiring to spend 7 hours a day learning a new language. But I bet at the end you will be very good at it. I like your bedroom specially your mosquito net. Just wanted you to know that I love and miss you but I know you are happy doing what you wanted to do for a long time. Keep posting!
Love, Vovó