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I woke up this morning to the gentle sound of water. “Maybe the flood came!” I announced happily to Donn.

For weeks now, we’ve been hearing rumours from locals of a big flood headed our way. Too much sand has been taken from the dunes near the port, so the government recently announced that no more could be taken. But the Equinox marked an unusually high tide, and soon everyone was sure that without those dunes, nothing would stop the water from inundating Nouakchott.

Due to these rumours, many people left town and moved temporarily to inland villages, on the other side of the next big range of dunes. Boutilimit, a town about 100 km from here, was considered far enough to be safe. People asked me if I was worried. “Well, no,” I had to reply. I’m not trying to be arrogant here, but between all the wild rumours I hear, the conspiracy theories (Starbucks gives all its profits to support Israeli offenses! Kellogg’s had some children’s cereal that was toxic so they sent it to the Arab world so be careful!) and the urban myths, I’m not too credulous these days.

It didn’t flood after all, although oddly enough, this morning it rained a teensy-tiny little bit, hardly enough to qualify as a sprinkle. This simply never happens in March, but it’s very welcome. After those weeks of early heat, we’re enjoying some wintry weather here—and I do mean enjoying! We love it when it gets cold enough to wear long-sleeved t-shirts ALL DAY LONG and need a blanket at night (of course the windows are still open—this isn’t exactly the Artic. The desert can get really cold, but we’re on the coast) Also, it didn’t flood but we did get enough city water to actually fill our little reservoir, which means I can get caught up on the laundry and take proper showers again. Life is good.

On March 3rd, we experienced a lunar eclipse. We took the kids out on the roof to watch it. At the moment when the eclipse was total, all around the city the mosques began chanting, reassuring their listeners that all was well and all would be well.


In spite of satellite dishes that make thousands of miles seem like the world next door, or the fact that the eggs I buy here were laid by chickens in Brazil, globalization and all its attendant joys and horrors has not erased what might be the most fundamental difference of all—how people interpret the world around them.

March 2007

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A Perfect Post – January 2007

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