The General Comes to Town

Trip Start Jun 2008
Trip End Aug 2010

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Flag of Mauritania  ,
Friday, April 10, 2009

Happy Friday everyone,
I hope you are all well. Life is good out here in Awainatt Zbill.  This past week we saw more excitement than we have in a while as General Aziz passed through town on his way to Nema for a speech.  For those of you not on the up and up with Mauritanian politics, Aziz is the man that led the coup last year, ousting the then President Abdullahi. 
We all in the Peace Corps stay well clear of Mauritanian politics, but his passing through was nearly impossible to avoid.  The Hakim has told me how many people are in Awainatt and the surrounding villages, but it was hard to believe until last week, as I saw them all in one place. Starting about five days in advance, people began to filter into town in cars, on the backs of pickup trucks and on scores of camels (my personal favorite).  The town set up huge tents and laid out carpets, complemented by generators, microphones and speakers for his speech.  I had trouble sleeping the night before because there were so many people making a ruckus. 
In the morning people started lining the road at about 8:00am.  At a little after 10:00am, Aziz and his entourage arrived and walked the length of the road through town, waving and shaking hands.  Plans changed though, as he didn't stick around for a speech and just got back into his car and kept going.  People did not seem to mind though.  His passing through was enough excitement for the rest of the week.  While everything is pretty calm, Mauritanians are definitely preparing for the elections in June. It will be interesting to see how it all works out...
In other news, it is really hot. Ha.  Even at night I am still sweating.  If nearly forgot what the temperatures were like when I arrived last year, I now remember.  The bugs are coming back, too, but as with the heat, I have just become used to them.
Everything at the center is going well.  We should finally be getting our generator in a few weeks, After we have that and get all the computers networked together, we will basically be as set up and organized as we could have hoped to be in our first year.  The town is also pretty excited about the trees we will be planting, as they have all seen the benefits of the gardens we help set up a few months ago.
Enjoy the pictures.  Check out the video, too.  It isn't great, but you can see a bunch of the guys on camels trotting along. 
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