Diplo-friends! I’m very pleased to introduce one of several very special interviews given by my diplo-partners in crime. “Notes from the Field” will feature stylish ladies living adventures abroad who make the most of what their posts – exotic and not – throw their way.
Today’s feature is the first half of an interview with a very talented friend who’s toughing out her first post in Mauritania. Where you say? Exactly. Mauritania is located on the west coast of Africa, and to me at least, was not known for much other than poverty, sand, and it’s somewhat belated outlawing of slavery (at 1981, it makes Saudi Arabia look progressive and forward-thinking when it banned slavery in 1962).
Nonetheless, our lovely diplo-friend has brought this little known country to life for our circle of friends with her tales from afar, and featured its gorgeous desert landscape in her very talented photography, some of which are shown alongside her interview.
Perhaps a destination to consider for your next getaway?
Diplo-mat or Diplo-spouse?
Diplo-mat and diplo-significant other.
Three words to describe (current post):
Saharan, under-developed, magic-surrealist
You have visitors in town for the weekend at current post, what does the weekend look like?
Did you say visitors? Nobody has been brave enough to visit us yet! However, given that Nouakchott is not exactly a tourist mecca, if we had an unsuspecting visitor in the next six months, we would plan a weekend getaway in the colonial city of Saint Louis in Senegal or the ancient city of Chinguetti in northern Mauritania.
During the four-hour drive to Saint Louis across the desert and through the Diawling natural reserve one can spot wild boar, gigantic lizards and pink flamingos. Saint Louis, located at the confluence of the Senegal River and the Atlantic ocean, is a picturesque colonial city with tons of charm and great beaches. Al fresco dining, African art shopping, and long strolls in the city or deserted beaches are among our favorite activities. We also enjoy drinking petits punch at the Hotel de la Poste, where French pilot and writer Antoine de Saint-Exupery used to stay when he was a pilot for l’Aeropostale.
The ancient city of Chinguetti is located in the breathtakingly beautiful Adrar region – a six hour drive from Nouakchott. The drive there is quite an experience as the desert scenery is varied and grandiouse. On the way to Chinguetti, we like to stop at the Tergit oasis for lunch, traditional Mauritanian tea, and an afternoon nap under the tent while waiting for the 90+ degree heat to subside. Once in Chinguetti, we visit the ancient libraries, go camel riding, climb the white sand dunes, talk to the bedouins, enjoy a desert-cooked lamb mechoui, and watch the magnificent sunsets and skies bursting with stars. We also love visiting the ruins of Ouadane, a Berber caravan and trading center dating from the 12th century.
If you’re in current post, you must try:
A stay at Chinguetti’s rustic bed and breakfast Le Maure Bleu, camel trekking in the Adrar, bird watching in the Banc d’Arguin, $12 lobsters at the Nouakchott fish market, the Nouakchott beach on Saturdays, tie-dye fabrics from Kaedi, the Tergit oasis, the traditional guetna holiday where Mauritanians gather in the oasis to eat hand-picked dates, and the camel races. I also recommend vacationing in Senegal, Morocco, and the Canary Islands.
To be continued…..
|The perils of desert driving as experienced by the diplo-mat. Banc d’Arguin, January 2009|
|The diplo-mat in the dunes off Chinguetti waiting for the sunset. Chinguetti, March 2010.|