Sunday, November 30, 2008

A history of Mauritania

"Where is Mauritania?" That is the most common question I hear when I talk to people about my trip. My response is pretty standard: It's on the north west coast of Africa, above Senegal. They pretend to know what I cam talking about. But they really don't know where Mauritania is. I pretend to think that they will Google it when they get to a computer. It's doubtful they will know how to spell it. Even I have to concentrate on it when I spell it out.

Since I hope to produce a video in the style of Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations and Andrew Zimmern's Bizarre Foods, I needed to get my act together and do some research about the nation of Mauritania.

Mauritania is one of the most dramatic countries in North Africa. While it is almost medieval in appearance and lifestyles, it is also described as modern.

With such contrary descriptions it is possible that Mauritania is one of the most mysterious countries in the world.

Mauritania is located in the Western Sahara desert. The climate ranges from hot to warm. I decided to keep track of the weather online. Lucky for me it is NOT humid, until it rains and then humidity becomes a welcome change.

It's borders include Morocco, Mali, Senegal, and Algeria. It's coast line dips into the Atlantic Ocean.

The southern part of Mauritania was once part of the Ghana empire. In 1000 AD the Berbers settled in the northern area. European adventurers arrived in the 15th century. The French influence overtook the original people of the land until Mauritania gained independence in 1960.

Arabic and French are the primary languages spoken among a majority of the people. Virtually all Mauritanians are Sunni Muslims.

From all reports that I have received from friends and family the people of Mauritania are kind and generous. For the most part they welcome people from other parts of the world with warmth and hospitality.

The more I read about this country and the people who live there, the more I realize that I know very little about the land that my brother has chosen to call home.

I can't wait to smell and taste Mauritania. To experience the people and see the sights for myself. I'll do my best to share with you what I experience. But I know that to get the fullness of Mauritania you will need to go there yourself.

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