It's Old Macdonald's worst f***ing nightmare. On top of that there aren't so many folks living there, approximately 3.2 million (40% of which live in urban areas). I will be making numerous comparisons to the apocalyptic nature of Mauritania's landscape. It will probably get old. Get used to it.
|Photo by Leslie|
During our rest stop we began to learn more about our intrepid leader. We'd already heard about a few of his former satisfied American clients along with his high quality of service (a bit of horn tooting) but now it was time for a peek-a-boo into Ahmed's mind. According to him he owns the tour company but does not normally take people out himself. Instead he has drivers to do the grunt work. He seemed to take a special interest in us as Americans and repeatedly told us that folks from the USA receive some sort of quasi-special status according to a verbal mandate passed along by the Minister of Tourism himself. Americans getting preferential treatment? I guess there's a first time for everything.
Finally, in 2007 another law was passed which made the keeping of slaves a punishable offense. Figures range anywhere from 100,000 to 600,000 slaves living in Mauritania today. That is fucking staggering when you consider the population is only 3.2 million strong. I am not exactly sure how slavery is defined for the purpose of statistics but by any definition the presence of slavery is extremely troubling. I shudder to think how many folks I have encountered fall into that category. Our waiter at the restaurant? The young boy employed at the auberge? The guy at the petrol station? All of them? None of them? Does my presence here make it better or worse for them? Am I complacent? Complicit? I do not know.....