The past week has been filled with work. I’ve met some amazing people with stories beyond comprehension. A young woman, who was born and inherited as a slave, who escaped from her masters just some months ago. Leaders of some major organizations for human rights. And I met R. She has been working as my translator, and we became good friends. We are the same age and I feel we are in some way at the same point in life.
Yesterday I was invited to her home and her friend A made beautiful henna-drawings on my feet and hands. We had very good Mauritanian food, talked a lot about the Mauritanian culture and Islam.
I feel so privileged living with locals and spending both my working time and free time with locals. The culture here is nothing like any other culture I have experienced, and I have learnt a lot about Islam.
As I was walking home lots of people, both men and women, were turning their heads, looking at my henna saying “tres jolie Madame, tres jolie.” And as I sat outside the apartment waiting for my host all the men at the shop next door came out and gave their compliments. I don’t think I’ve had these many people complimenting me within the same hour before, it was overwhelming and I was blushing as I said “merci boucoup.”
Today is my last day here. I will spend it visiting a café on top of the tallest building in Nouakchott, overlooking the whole city, and finish up my work.