Friday, May 05, 2006

Sleeping with ants

I don't know how long we drove. I fell asleep with Tsilat untying my braids. When I woke up, she told me how the driver kept swerving to make sure people we're awake and would hit things near a sleeping person and was arguing loudly with the women in the backseat. I must have escaped his attention.

We stopped sometime with the driver pulling fastly onto the side of the road and he killed the car in front of a small square cement building and everyone tumbled out. Tsilat and I didn't really know what was happening and we asked a man getting out who said "The driver is tired and he wants to sleep."

At this point we were more angry than scared, but still powerless in our situation. We were on the side of a long road with only white sand desert on either side. I didn't have service on my phone and I didn't feel like I had the backing of the other passengers to organize a coup on the driver and demand he continue driving.

Since we were slow at getting out of the car, once we walked into the small, one story cement building where we were staying the night, everyone had already grabbed a foam mat on the floor. We were thrown a dirty pillow and pointed to the floor. Tsilat has her "netela" or scarf that she takes everywhere when she travels. Before she leaves she douches it in perfume so it always hints at the smell of home and familiarity. It was our one source of comfort this night as the cheap walls of this damned structure didn't keep out the coldness of the night. As the ants made their way up my pant legs and the back of my shirt and Tsilat and I huddled on the floor together trying to figure out how in the world we're going to be able to sleep.

The driver's alarm went off once and I thought for sure we must be going now. But he shut it off and still we didn't budge. By dawn, the men woke and went outside to pray, then came in and began making tea. The only thing I could think is, "No not now. Not tea." And, "how many rounds are they going to do?" as I watched the gas burner which was slowly running out of fuel and had only the tinest of flame attempt to boil a pot of water. They offered it to us and Tsilat and I both shook our head in one same movement not even wanting to associate this experience with the good memories of Mauritanian tea.

Finally, they took only two rounds and the door swung open to reveal sun and the flat whiteness of the land surrounding us. We squeezed again into the car our fumes stifling, our anger hurting us, and that's when we got a flat tire. Again, out of the car, sitting on a pile of sand calculating what we'll say to the taximan once we finally reach Nouakchott. Tsilat in her fierceness
asking me how do you say "liar" in french?" and wishing to hurle at the driver, "tu connais 'fuck you!'?"

And when we arrived in Nouakchott less than two hours later it didn't make any sense why we'd passed the night on the road if we were this close. Before the car even stopped, we were out, clutching for a bags, and leaving, walking away, getting out, finding our own way, jumping in a green Mercedes taxi. Chez Molly. We were going home. We were safe.

Molly heard our taxi when it pulled up. She came down her long stairs and we fell into her relieved and full of our scary tale. We made coffee from the US, ate frosted flakes she'd some how managed to acquire in Mauritania, and we relived, we let it go, lucky to be unharmed.

5 Comments:

At 5/5/06 15:13, Blogger runtim said...

Shheewooo. It's good to now know you are safe and sound. You poor things.

 
At 5/5/06 15:16, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oui, je connais

 
At 14/3/08 19:14, Anonymous Anonymous said...

lucky you I miss the skinny handsome men of Senegal

 
At 9/3/10 07:52, Blogger jerry said...

love to see this discussion! It’s great to see you all working through the issues and also, it’s great to see recommendations for testing. In the end, it’s what your actual users do and prefer that should be your biggest driver in making these decisions.

study abroad

 
At 9/3/10 07:54, Blogger jerry said...

love to see this discussion! It’s great to see you all working through the issues and also, it’s great to see recommendations for testing. In the end, it’s what your actual users do and prefer that should be your biggest driver in making these decisions.

study abroad

 

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