Merry Mauritanian Christmas

Nouakchott, 12/25/2017

Last Christmas (2016) I was house sitting for Dani and Monster in Colorado, complete with cozy fireplace. Christmas 2017 was certainly a different scenario. I may have mentioned before, but Kinross (my employer) built and owns a small hotel in Nouakchott for only Kinross employees and contractors as they cycle in and out from Nouakchott to the mine in Tasiast. It is also where the Nouakchott expats go for all their meals. We all go, via van and guards, every day for lunch. They also serve dinner. The managers (Souad and Zakaria) realized there would only be three expats in Nouakchott for Christmas. All the others went home (primarily to Las Palmas). Souad and Zakaria planned a special dinner for the three of us, with them included for Christmas Eve. It is really hard to explain how this gesture touched me. It is so thoughtful and kind, I had planned on doing nothing on Christmas Eve. Rahma (expat from Morocco who lives in Las Palmas) was also here so we planned a scheduled outing for breakfast (with guards of course) to our favorite French café. They are starting to recognize me when I go there. I also always make it a point, before sitting down to breakfast, to buy to breakfast pastries and take them out to the guards waiting in the van. Have I mentioned how kind and friendly all the guards and drivers are? I’m their “dianapapa” (all one word) or “papadiana” (again all one word). I really enjoy joking with them and I think they share my enjoyment. One or two are trying to practice their English, so we have small English conversations.

Christmas Eve evening off I went to the hotel for our special Christmas Eve dinner. It was also a great opportunity for us all to get to know more about each other. Zakaria is from Morocco and rotates back and forth to be with his family there. Souad is also from Morocco but stays in Nouakchott because her children are in university in other places. Martin (expat) is our contracted Medical technician. He is from France and has done this type of work for decades all over Africa. Rahma is originally from Morocco but moved to Las Palmas when she was a child but tries to go back to Morocco once a year.

Each course that came out for dinner surpassed the one before. I think Zakaria was trying to hit all our countries. The turkey was definitely a nod to the US. Moroccan appetizers, local salad and a beautiful French yule log. I could not get over how thoughtful this was for them. I will hold this Christmas Eve celebration in my heart.
Christmas day was fun! I invited Babacar and his wife Lisa over for lunch. Lisa is an American. Italian from New Jersey! She met and married Babacar there and they have two beautiful children. They also brought along Babacar’s daughter from a previous marriage. Lisa did all the preparation and cooking. We did burgers and homemade macaroni salad, homemade banana bread and Italian wedding cookies. Later in the day, another friend from work, Mohamed stopped by with his sister. I really enjoyed having a houseful of people. Again, this will be a Christmas I will hold in my heart.

I hope you enjoy the pictures.

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