Mauritania

Country Information: The capital of Mauritania is Nouakchott and the country’s population is about 5 million. The government declares the entire population is Muslim. The main language is Arabic followed by French. 

Away from city life, travelers can brave the Sahara desert, which is especially beautiful during sunrise or sunset when temperatures are lower. Heading to the Terjit Oasis will give travelers a break from the heat and let visitors relax by the water under an array of palm trees.

The issue of Mauritania and child slavery is of international concern.

Jim’s Perspectives:

Where to start? I’m so conflicted about this place because I had such a wonderful time … in this disaster of a country!

Of the 183 countries I’ve visited to date, I think it’s the poorest I’ve visited.

Let’s start with the good:

  • The Azalia Marhaba hotel was pretty decent; the best hotel in Nouakchott (New-AK-chot), however some new 5 star hotels are coming.
  • My guide couldn’t have been more hospitable
  • The tour of the goat and came farms were eventful
  • The port du peche (fish market) was awesome

The not-so-good:

  • The city is a disaster.  In fairness, Nouk has only been a capital for ~ 60 years, but who did the urban planning in this place?!
  • The city has grown so rapidly … the streets are made of mud and sand
  • Are there driving lessons or tests in this country?  They suck at it.
  • Speaking of driving … have you ever wondered where ALL used Mercedes cars go to die?  It’s Mauritania. Not kidding when I say that 3/4 of the cars on the roads are 1982 vintage Mercedes beater cars.
  • Q) What are those large barrels being carried by donkeys?  A) Water
  • A full 5/6 of the population has no running water, and many don’t have electricity.
  • The trash lining the streets is appalling.  Seriously, the worst in Africa.
  • And, c’mon, can’t someone clean up the dead goats and cows stinking up the street? Are there no sanitation standards in this country?
  • And, most of the traditional music I heard on the radio sounded worse than the camel grunts at the market. The guitars were cool but the screeching voices were just awful.

 

Typical street in Mauritania. Notice the old Mercedes and donkey pulling delivery cart.
Trash is piled up everywhere in downtown Nouakchott
Having some fun at the beach with some locals … shoot the cork!
At the goat and livestock market in 2018

Latvia

Riga has a wonderful downtown vibe; imposing St. Peter's church in the central square Country Information: Latvia, founded in 1918, the capital is Riga and the country’s population is about 2.1 million. The official language is Latvian and the dominant religion is...

Democratic Republic of Congo

Country Information:  The capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo is Kinshasa. There are approximately 82 million people living here. The official language of the DRC is French with Lingala as a widespread trade language. The majority of Congolese practice Roman...

Syria

Country Information: Syria is officially known as the Syrian Arab Republic. The capital is Damascus and the official language is Arabic. About 18 million people live here (as of 2021) though many refugees are leaving the country. The largest religion is Sunni Islam,...