Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Sh*t Mauritanians Say **

* i
** and some non-Mauritanians too, when noted

You came here alone? What is your problem?
A fellow bus passenger.

Are you a doctor? Do you have medicine for him?
The mother of 4-month-old Hamma, who was suffering from stomach problems. A doctor had previously given her medicine which did not work. She handed him to me when we stopped for a prayer break. 

I think it's only your country that doesn't have slaves.
Ousmane, who showed me around town in Atar. He knows some slaves in person, but doesn't have them on Facebook. Historically, Mauritanian Arabs enslaved part of the black African population. An estimated ten per cent of the nation is still living in slavery. In many cases, it's difficult to determine whether someone is an employee, member of extended family, or slave.  

Sing! Allah, Allah, Allah...
Tajib, who sat next to me in a Medeh, a pseudo-Islamic gathering which includes singing, drumming, and chanting. I found it by following the music from my guesthouse to the tent. 

These days, the force-feeding is more voluntary. 
Sidi, who works in the tourism industry. The brutal tradition of forcibly fattening young girls is no longer practiced. What he meant was some women still force-feed themselves to adhere to the old beauty ideals.

You're the only one I know of who got here by plane.
A Polish solo traveler. She was doing a tour of Morocco, Western Sahara, Mauritania, and Senegal, which is a popular overland itinerary.

Did you have a Mauritanian wedding?
A girl in the oasis village of Terjit.
Main road in Terjit
Checkpoint police, taxi drivers, kids on the street, you name it.
Many countries have an obnoxious word to describe a foreigner. This one literally means a person from Nazareth - because all white chicks are homies of Jesus. 

Maybe you could take her.
'Her' was 6-month-old Salek, who was suffering from malnutrition. She's been in her grandmother's care since birth, and something has gone wrong with the bottle-feeding. Salek is now fed a variant of Plump Nut, a baby-saving product. I met her while I was getting henna tattoos.

But you eat so little!
Several people.

Tell your husband you're in paradise. Make him jealous.
A Dutch hotel owner, who has lived in Mauritania for two decades. 
Fishing boats returning to shore in the capital Nouakchott

Saddam Hussein is to us what Donald Trump is to Americans.
A man on a Nouakchott street, who saw me looking at a poster of "the martyr" Saddam. Mauritania supported Iraq during the Gulf war, and Saddam is considered a hero.

She's a hundred.
A nomad desert guide of his mother, when I asked about her age.
She's not old, she's wise.


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