FAQs about Peace Corps in Mauritania
From Peace Corps Wiki
|FAQs about Peace Corps|
For information see Welcomebooks
 How much luggage will I be allowed to bring to Mauritania?
Most airlines have baggage size and weight limits and assess charges for transport of baggage that exceeds this allowance. The Peace Corps has its own size and weight limits and will not pay the cost of transport for baggage that exceeds these limits. The authorized baggage allowance is two checked pieces of luggage with combined dimensions of both pieces not to exceed 107 inches (length + width + height) and a carry-on bag with dimensions of no more than 45 inches. Checked baggage should not exceed 80 pounds total, with a maximum weight allowance of 50 pounds for any one bag.
Peace Corps Volunteers are not allowed to take pets, weapons, explosives, radio transmitters (shortwave radios are permitted), automobiles, or motorcycles to their overseas assignments. Do not pack flammable materials or liquids such as lighter fluid, cleaning solvents, hair spray, or aerosol containers. This is an important safety precaution.
 How much money should I bring?
Volunteers are expected to live at the same level as the people in their community. They are given a settling-in allowance and a monthly living allowance, which should cover their expenses. Often Volunteers wish to bring additional money for vacation travel to other countries or for the purchase of cellphones. Cash, especially in larger denominations like $100 bills, is easier to exchange than traveler’s checks and will yield a better exchange rate. If you choose to bring extra money, bring the amount that suits your own travel plans and needs.
 When can I take vacation and have people visit me?
Each Volunteer accrues two vacation days per month of service (excluding training). Leave may not be taken during training, the first three months of service, or the last three months of service, except in conjunction with an authorized emergency leave. Family and friends are welcome to visit you after pre-service training and the first three months of service as long as their stay does not interfere with your work. Extended stays at your site are not encouraged and may require permission from your country director. The Peace Corps is not able to provide your visitors with visa or travel assistance.
 Will my belongings be covered by insurance?
The Peace Corps does not provide insurance coverage for personal effects. However, such insurance can be purchased before you leave. Ultimately, Volunteers are responsible for the safekeeping of their personal belongings. If you wish, you may contact your own insurance company; additionally, insurance application forms will be provided, and we encourage you to consider them carefully. Additional information about insurance should be obtained by calling the company directly. Volunteers are cautioned not to ship or take valuable items overseas. Jewelry, watches, radios, cameras, and expensive appliances are subject to loss, theft, and breakage, and in many places, satisfactory maintenance and repair services are not available.
 Do I need an international driver’s license?
Volunteers in Mauritania do not need to get an international driver’s license. Operation of privately owned vehicles is prohibited. Most urban travel is by bus or taxi. Rural travel ranges from buses, mini-buses, and trucks, to donkey carts, and a lot of walking.
 What should I bring as gifts for Mauritania friends and my host family?
This is not a requirement. A token of friendship is sufficient. Some gift suggestions include knickknacks for the house; pictures, books, or calendars of American scenes; small flashlights, frames, or photo albums; souvenirs from your area; or photos to give away.
 Where will my site assignment be when I finish training and how isolated will I be?
Peace Corps trainees are assigned to individual sites during the third week of pre-service training. This gives the Peace Corps staff the opportunity to assess each trainee’s technical and language skills prior to assigning sites, in addition to finalizing site selections with their ministry counterparts. Most Volunteers will live in small towns or in rural villages, but will usually be within one hour from the nearest Volunteer. Some sites will require a 10- to 12-hour drive from the capital. There will be at least one Volunteer based in each of the regional capitals and about four to seven Volunteers in the capital city.
 How can my family contact me in an emergency?
The Peace Corps’ Office of Special Services provides assistance in handling emergencies affecting trainees and Volunteers or their families. Before leaving the United States, you should instruct your family to notify the Office of Special Services immediately if an emergency arises, such as a serious illness or death of a family member. During normal business hours, the number for the Office of Special Services is 800.424.8580; select option 2, then extension 1470. After normal business hours and on weekends and holidays, the Special Services duty officer can be reached at 202.638.2574.
For nonemergency questions, your family can get information
from your country desk staff at the Peace Corps by calling 800.424.8580.
 Can I call home from Mauritania?
Yes. It is usually possible to call family and friends in the United States from telephone boutiques or cell phones in larger towns, regional capitals, or Nouakchott. When calling home, dial 001 before dialing the area code and the phone number. Instruct your family and friends to dial 011.222 and then your local phone number when calling Mauritania.
 May I bring my bicycle with me?
Trainees are not restricted from bringing their personal bicycles with them; however, there are several factors trainees should consider before packing their bikes. First, the bike will be counted as a piece of check-in luggage by the airlines and any costs levied by the airline will be solely the responsibility of the trainee. Second, spare parts or experienced repairmen may be impossible to find in-country. Third, petty theft is a problem in many countries and your bicycle could be a very visible and tempting target. Peace Corps/Mauritania does not issue bicycles to Volunteers.
 May I bring my guitar/musical instrument with me?
Trainees are allowed to bring musical instruments with them and a large number of trainees do so. However, you should be aware that a guitar or other sizable musical instrument may be considered as a piece of baggage by an airline. Any additional costs will be solely your responsibility.