Friday, November 7, 2008

Nothing like fresh hot milk on a 100-degree day

I wished so badly that I could have been home November 4th. We stayed up late here and at 3am or so we knew that my boyfriend Barak Obama will be the next president of America! Hamdullilah! We celebrated with something like cinnamon rolls the next morning but I don’t think that can compare to partying in the streets of Seattle. But being abroad at this time is pretty amazing, even people who don’t have electricity know about Obama and some offer congratulations. To the global community the impact of Obama being elected is immense.
In response to Aunt Ann and Stu’s questions about the things I do daily, I’ll give you a little sample. A typical day for me begins by being woken up to morning prayer call, around 5:30am. I usually go for a run either into the desert around the town or along the road that runs through town (it is one of the two paved roads in the country, it goes from Nouakchott to Timbuktu). I bathe in a mud “room” with a tin roof that is about fifty feet from my house. I use a bucket and a cup. And soap. Sometimes.
We have class at the GMC four times a week where we teach English to about 25 women. If I am not teaching I am cleaning my house. You’d be surprised how many times I have to sweep the sand off my floors. Although there is not a whole lot to buy in the market, I often cruise around there before lunch or in the evening. I can always find potatoes and onions.
I typically make one meal for myself a day, either lunch or dinner and eat with a family for the other. The lunch and dinner menu don’t really vary, and there is always GOAT. I’ve even seen it eaten for breakfast. Lunch is goat with rice and dinner cous cous and goat. It is common for people to ask me if I like milk and cous cous. I get that question over three times a day. “Do you like milk?” Well….. before I drank soymilk, but now I love milk, if it’s camel even better, and if the milk has a little sugar in it OH MAN. I am not being sarcastic; I crave it when I haven’t had it in a while. Kack I know you are probably gagging as you read this. Usually I teach an English lesson in the afternoon and then prepare for nighttime back at my house. When you don’t have electricity and you’ve seen scorpions around your house, you don’t want to be searching for your flashlight in the dark. I get water from a spigot near my bathroom/hole in the ground room. I always have to fill up a few buckets for the next day so I spend a lot of my pre-dinner time hauling buckets of water around. When it gets dark I cook on a small gas burner, I eat a lot of onions fried up with potatoes and canned veggies. Not bad. I sleep outside my house on the cement stoop, usually I’m in bed early (like 8pm…23 years old going on 70). I do a lot of stargazing.

We’re hoping to open the GMC in a few weeks and get started teaching our younger girls group as well as the class of mentors we have now. I really like teaching, and it makes it even better that my students have never really seen or heard English so they don’t know when I goof up. Women in our class range from 16 to 40 years old, most haven’t had the opportunity to continue with school past a sophomore in high school level. They are hilarious and think I’m kind of crazy but I think we’re all growing pretty attached to each other.
The other morning I was running along the road back into town and people and families were greeting me from their tents, as they often do, when I saw a women running towards me. She was one of the older women from class and she was carrying a bowl full of…you guessed it, MILK! Warm milk+6:30 in the morning+ exercise+ empty stomach= did not feel good afterwards. But it’s the thought that counts.

I miss you all very very much! I am trying to get my camera working again and put up some pictures.




ninalexandra said...

ok, i just ran across your amazing blog.
thank goodness. i love reading blogs. now i can figure out what you are up to.
go obama go! it's been incredible, even in vancouver!

Kack said...

MILKY! I don't mind your new love of milk...but I know someone who does...I'm sure MCCABER barfed when he read this post. Love you. We are so proud of you.

Meg-Finn said...

I hope you got a picture of your henna, I am sure you wear it beautifully! I love you Jackie!!!

Polycarpe said...

Hi Jackie,

My name is Depe and I am a friend of your amazing sister Kathleen. we both volunteered as Obama Fellows last summer.

I got the address of your blog through her and rushed right to read all about the great adventure and the work you are doing in Mauritania. I have nothing but a deep admiration for you. I command you for your commitment to public service. I emailed your sister to tell how happy I was to find out how quickly your integration in Awaynit Zybil went. I trust that your work in that community will continue to impact a growing number of people. I hope you succeed in opening the new GMC as you mentioned in your blog. I am originally from Cameroon myself. And boy, I know how much our countries need the kind of support that folks like you can bring us.

The outfit you wear on one of the pictures on the blog is great. And man! it shows on the pictures how welcoming and friendly people in your community are. I will add to that the fact that they are very lucky to have such a wonderful U.S. Ambassador in you with them.

I wish you all the best and hope you continue to enjoy your stay in Mauritania.

p.s. I will trade a lot to have some of that camel milk :)