Awainatt Zbill!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Trip Start Jun 2008
Trip End Aug 2010

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Flag of Mauritania  ,
Monday, July 21, 2008

Ahhahh!  Success!  We all learned our respective permanent sites today, and I am in for quite an adventure.....Seriously...
I am heading to a town called Awainatt Zbill, in the southeast of Mauritania.   Awainatt Zbill , which literally translates to 'cow shit', has a population of 8,000 and is not far from Mali.  Don't let the name fool you, though, from what I hear from a few of our language facilities, it is actually a nice, old Mauritanian settlement surrounded by palm trees and not far from two of Mauritania's regional capitals.  I will be able to get my own place with running water (for a change) and should have plenty of privacy.  Everything I need can be had in the market, and the people are, from what I hear, really excited to have Peace Corps in their town. Hassaniya will be my operating language, but my French will likely come in handy.
This was a pretty rad day.  Our trainers drew a giant map of Mauritania in the sand and would call out all 74 names as we walked to our future sites.  I had one of the longest walks...
I say this is going to be an adventure not because it is a two day trip from Rosso over desert and sand dunes in an overcrowded bush taxi full of goats, or because I will be communicating in a language I just started learning, or because I will be working in a completely new culture, but because this is the first year Peace Corps will have worked in Awainatt Zbill.... The good news is I will not be alone!  Jackie, one of the other GEE volunteers will be my counterpart, and there are a number of other PCVs in our region (Nema).  For whatever region, we were selected to start one of the new Girls Mentoring Centers (GMCs) this year.  I am actually really excited.  Jackie and I have the chance to build this program from the ground up, with the hope it will sustain itself long after we leave.  The mayor of Awainatt Zbill is supposed to be a very innovative man and very adamant about seeing this project through, and will act as our supervisor throughout our service.  I feel this experience is going to be challenging and frustrating.  I know it is going to take a lot of dedication and resources, but I think it may be one of the most rewarding experiences I will have yet undertaken.  I cannot remember when I have been this excited......
So, we head out bright and early tomorrow and will spend the night in Kiffa.  Wednesday, we will leave Kiffa and reach Ayoun.  We will be in Ayoun for a few days for seminars and to meet the other volunteers in the region, then Jackie and I will head on out to Awainatt Zbill for a few days to meet the mayor and a number of other officials.  We will also have the chance to check out the town and look for perspective housing options for when we return in late August.
There we have it folks.  Awainatt Zbill it is!  Rest assured though, when I return to Rosso (right around my birthday!), I will be sure to give you the scoop and post heaps of pictures.  Ok.  Time to pack my bags.  Time to head out into the desert....
Oh, by the way, Awainatt Zbill is on the Road of Hope, right in between Ayoun and Timbedgha.  The town did not come up on Google Earth, but you should be able to piece it together.
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