1) Our program has not been evacuated. We're doing a test of the Emergency Action Plan (kind of like a big fire drill) that moved our Mid Term Reconnect (as well as a few days of In-Service Training) to the PC Senegal training center. It's cheaper than putting everyone up in Nouakchott for 10 days, plus Senegal has a few benefits that we lack here (cough cough beer cough).
2) We aren't being shut down. Well, probably not. There is a safety team coming to evaluate the country, but that was planned a long time ago and will be looking at Mali and Niger as well. Our country director and all the folks at the embassy thing we'll be fine, and don't see a reason to pull us (or any change in the security situation). So, while there is a very small chance that our program will close, the vastly more likely situation is that the security team will visit our sites and see that our actual situation here is far from what they've read on cnn.com.
Everything clear? I swear, it's like being in middle school all over again sometimes. Information gets so twisted and confused, but it's hard to know what to believe. Americans are so used to relying on news sources, but honestly, most of the news articles about what's been going on in Mauritania have been blown waaaaay out of proportion and are written by people who don't really understand this country and its history. So, just to re-cap, I'm fine, the program is fine, and Mauritania is...well, as fine as it ever was.
Now that we're all on the same page, I want to thank everyone for the birthday wishes! It's hard to believe I've already had 2 birthdays here in Mauritania. On the first, we found out where we would be placed permanently and backed up for site visit. Needless to say this year was a little less hectic. I had a wonderful day thanks to my fabulous sitemate Shelby and John (who, in about a month, will be my sitemate as well. That is, if he makes is through the region's hazing...mwahahaha), who cooked for me all day. It was great. Thanks guys! Our friends Serge and Virginie came over for dinner, and we had eggplant burgers, cheese popcorn and chocolate cake (sounds like a real meal right? I'm telling you, Shel and John are that good). Now that's what I call turning 24 in (Mauritanian) style.
Speaking of John's upcoming move to Selibaby (I assume this isn't news to anyone, but check out his blog if you want more details--it's linked on my page), I just want to point out that not only did the Guidimakha not lose anyone to the IS option, we actually gained a person. That's right, we're that awesome. Unstoppable. Watch out. Now if we could just get a real road...
In other news, we recently had elections for the first time since the coup last August (we've been through a lot in our 13 months here...just making us that much more badass than PC Senegal). Election day was very calm in Selibaby--it was actually calmer than it had been in a while, since one of the candidates parked all of his campaign trucks outside of Shelby's house and played really bad music all day...we were glad for them to leave. Anyway, Aziz (who staged the coup) won by a majority, which avoided a run-off election in early August. The opposition complained that Aziz stole the election, and there were rumors about paying for votes etc., but the results have been confirmed and recognized by a lot of the international community. Basically, since the former president formally stepped down to allow a democratic election, Aziz is now a democratically elected president. We're all hoping that means the aid money will be restored to Mauritania, and now that the US has recognized Aziz as president and lifted travel bans on members of the RIM government, it's expected that all the visa problems will be resolved. We still might not get a new training class until June, but it's a step in the right direction.
For now, I'm just happy to continue my vacation. On the 2nd, I fly to France to meet up with my family for a couple weeks of wonderful food and maybe being clean enough to feel like a real person again (no promises). I can't wait!! I'll be sure to post pictures when I get back (although the majority of my readers will have been there...so it won't be that exciting). John will be home at the same time to see his family and meet his niece, and when he gets back we'll both head to Selibaby, hopefully find him a house quickly, and settle back into life as usual. And I'll still have a month or so before I have to go back to school. Haha, I got more vacation than anyone! Oh come on, this is the only chance I get to brag about how easy my job is, no one would be jealous any other time so let me have my moment :)
That's all the news that's fit to post. I hope everyone is well and enjoying the end of July!