The Enduring Fight Against Fire

The next morning I wake up in an acclimatised room with a large tv-screen showing “France 24”. Breakfast with papá. I spent the day in the house looming, large TV movies keeping a tired soul busy. We had Mauritanian Tajin, goat meat and liver served on a plate of rice and eaten in balls with your hands. A little girl comes into the room to bring me tea, smiled when I took the little glass then ran out of the room.

I don’t feel awkward enjoying this incredible hospitality, or maybe a little bit. I’m actually the opposite of the tough independent traveler I want to be: I can’t walk around alone here or it doesn’t make sense since it’s far away from everything and I don’t have Oudaja to go anywhere. So I live with papá and his family for a few days. These were hot days and I apologize when their description here isn’t as tangible as I want it to be.

We took the car through the network of dust roads of Nouakchott and arrive at another two-story building, big satellite dish on the roof. They bring me here for the wifi. In the middle of the room lay he on three pillows, white beard, a tunic wrapped around his bare chest and a stern look on his face. A bottle of water and two remote controls standing next to him. He nods when I enter the room and sit down on a couch.

Whose experience is this? A young philosopher sees an older man in some Muslim republic, like there are so many, and has his short-sighted associations. “He looks just like Socrates!” he yells in excitement blocking further details and crippling his youthful senses. Seeing Socrates then returning to the books. Perhaps a few details here and there, but the ability to see anything new? I mean we need these associations for our minds to be closed and also for our minds to be open. Couldn’t resist speaking in riddles, excuse me for that.

I hope to do something back: translate some of their commercial communications into German and English. Papá owns a small company dealing in fire extinguishers and related safety equipment and their training, providing mostly international groups present in Nouakchott with their sécurité incendie. I think about slogans for their company “SIS” (sécurité incendie secourisme). What about “The Enduring Fight Against Fire” hinting the American fight against terror, or “Before calling SOS, try SIS”.

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