23 September 2008

Shemwasi m'ha Ramadan? Zayn Hate!

(How are things going with Ramadan? Really great!) Actually it is kind of tough, but I only know how to say basic phrases in Hassaniya (the local Arabic dialect). I'm not fasting or anything, but you always have to be careful that you aren't eating or drinking in public. That doesn't sound like a lot but you have to plan your whole day around this fact. Plus, it is hard for Muslims to put in a full work day when you add not eating to heat, so a lot of places are closed that would normally be open. The school year is fast approaching (October 5, I think) and I'm looking forward to it just so I have something to do. I'm still worried about classroom management with such big classes (between 30 and 70 students per class), but I will hopefully get better with time.
Luckily, we have had a lot of visitors lately to help keep us occupied. First it was Iain, a Scottish Aid worker in Somalia on his way home, then Justin and Christina another married couple in Mauritania, Antonio (a tourist from Chile) and right now Jessica (PCV from Chinguitty, RIM) and her mom Bonnie are actually staying at our apartment. They are our guinea pigs or trial run for visitors of our new place. We'll get pictures soon. Everyone has been incredibly kind. It's amazing how fast you can become friends with someone when you share a similar experience.
Sorry for the short post, I'm taking Jessica and Bonnie to the beach. Tough life! Thanks to everyone for the packages and letters. They help out a lot. However, I need to reciprocate with the letters. I think the tally between my dad and me stands at 14-0. Sorry dad.


03 September 2008


Just a quick post to let everyone know that we've arrived safely at our site and are currently in the process of looking for an apartment. We've been lucky to have lots of help from the volunteers that have already been living in Nouadhibou, so hopefully it won't take us too long to find a good place to live.

Yesterday was the first day of Ramadan. Ramadan is an Islamic holiday that lasts for a full month during which Muslims must fast from sun up to sun down, including fluids.* It is very difficult for them and sometimes it can make them grumpy. However, it also makes for great fun every evening when they "break fast." It is a great opportunity to spend time and meet new Mauritanian families while they are breaking fast.

Just to let you know...we have again updated our care package wishlist and I put several things in bold print to let you know which items we need the most. Thanks to several people, we have plenty of drink mix and hard candy for the time being. I also added some tips at the bottom of our wishlist page for maximizing your shipping costs, as care packages can get pretty expensive when sending overseas. I can't say enough how much we appreciate all the mail and care packages we have received so far. It really helps us to know that we have so much support back home. I'm sorry we haven't been writing more letters in return. Hopefully now that we are at site, we should have a little more time and organization...Inshallah!

*There are several exceptions for Muslims from fasting which include children, pregnant women, the sick, women on their menstrual cycle, and probably others of which I am unaware. It should be noted though that adults who skip a day of fasting during Ramadan must make up for it later during the year by fasting some other time.