Packing list for Mauritania
From Peace Corps Wiki
|Packing List for Mauritania|
|These lists has been compiled by Volunteers serving in Mauritania based on their experience. Use it as an informal guide in making your own list, bearing in mind that experience is individual. There is no perfect list!|
For information see Welcomebooks
This list has been compiled by Volunteers serving in Mauritania and is based on their experience (The asterisked items in particular were recommended by Volunteers as “sanity savers” during training). Use it as an informal guide in making your own list, bearing in mind that each experience is individual. There is no perfect list! You can always have things sent to you later. You obviously cannot bring everything we mention, so consider those items that make the most sense to you personally and professionally. As you decide what to bring, keep in mind that you have an 80-pound weight restriction on baggage. And remember, you can get almost everything you need in Mauritania.
 General Clothing
- Three to five cotton T-shirts with sleeves
- Two to three nice-looking dress shirts (for men, with a collar)
- One to two pairs of shorts (to sleep in or to wear during organized sporting events; note that shorts are not worn by men or women in public)
- One pair utility/work pants or jeans
- One to two sweaters or sweatshirts/polar fleece for the cold season
- Bathing suit
- One or two sets of dress clothes and nice shoes (e.g., good-looking dress or pair of pants, a collared shirt, and optional tie) for swearing-in ceremony, embassy, other official functions and holidays. Do not bring a sports coat or anything that needs dry cleaning. ** Also be aware that many female volunteers have a Mauritanian style outfit made for the swear-in ceremony, and end up not using the dress they brought.
- One or two hats/baseball caps (also a popular gift item for men!)
- Three or four cotton bandannas or other cotton scarves (very handy for all sorts of things)*
- Extra cotton underwear (boxer shorts and bras)
Note: There are a lot of talented tailors and a wide variety of fabric in Mauritania. You will be able to have clothes made here. Bring things that you can have copied. Do not worry about bringing enough clothes for two years. NOTE: Bring enough clothes to get through your first 3 months of training. You will be asked to divide your belongings when you arrive in country, and anything you don't need for your 1st 3 months will be stored in a locked room at the training center. If you are having trouble fitting that 5th cotton shirt in your bag, keep in mind that each regional capital usually has a pile of clothes left by other volunteers, and many trainees pick up new clothes during their site visits, after the first 6 weeks of training. And since the end of training usually coincides with the close of service for the 2nd year volunteers, there is another influx of clothing left behind to pick from. For Men:
- One extremely adjustable belt (Volunteers typically lose weight)
- Four to five pairs of neat lightweight cotton pants (khakis, Dockers, not jeans)
- Five to six long (ankle-length), full skirts and one or two cotton slips (full-length skirts with pockets are the best). Do not bring skirts that are see-through if you hate wearing a slip. Also, test run the skirt: See if you can sit comfortably cross-legged on the floor while wearing it. **Note, female volunteers generally have more clothes made in-country than male volunteers. That being the case, many find that 6 skirts is excessive, not to mention a waste of luggage space and that 2-4 is sufficient.
- One to two full-length dresses with sleeves that at least reach mid-arm. Bring a style that you really like as tailors here can make duplicates. Again, test run the dress to make sure you can sit comfortably on the floor cross-legged. Note that Mauritanian women rarely wear pants
- "Vacation" clothes. On several occasions, like New Year's, St. Louis Jazz Fest, the West African Invitational Softball tournement in Dakar, and other individual vacations, volunteers spend time in larger cities outside their Islamic Republic. On these occasions it is completely acceptable for women to wear certain "RIM unfriendly" clothes, such as jeans and tank tops, when going out to night clubs. These clothes are not easy to find in-country, especially jeans that fit well, and would be worth bringing in place of that 6th skirt. Even though they may not get worn very often, or ever, in-country, you will be glad you have them when you travel.
- Three month-supply of sanitary pads/tampons. Many volunteers switch to a reusable device such as The Keeper or The Diva Cup, which eliminates the need to constantly have tampons mailed from home. Tampons are not easily purchased in Mauritania, and while sanitary pads can be found in the cities, it is important to note that village children sort through your trash frequently, unless you burn it, and a used sanitary pad is not something you want to see the next day being used as a toy. Given the fact that Mauritanians use water and soap instead of toilet paper, using the Diva cup or Keeper is very simple, clean alternative, and eliminates the waste issue.
- Beauty products that make you feel good such as moisturizer, makeup, hair conditioner, antiperspirant, jewelry (that you will not mind losing or giving away)
- Sports bras (for running and bumpy car rides), scarves (to keep your hair out of the dust) Shoes
- Sturdy sandals that offer support for your feet (e.g., Tevas or Birkenstocks).* Note: every time you enter a room, you must take off your shoes. This will probably happen several times a day, so we recommend that you bring sandals or slip-on/backless shoes (Rubber flip-flops can be bought here for about $1.) Chacos are also popular.
- One pair of quality work shoes or cross-trainer shoes, particularly for health and agriculture Volunteers. **Not really necessary for work in any sector, Mauritanians accomplish the same tasks in sandals.
- One pair of athletic shoes (for recreational purposes); avoid sneakers with air bubble support systems; they will be punctured easily on this terrain.
- Two to three pairs of cotton socks (most time is spent in sandals) Personal Hygiene and Toiletry Items
- Women are often glad they brought makeup, perfume, nail polish, and other beauty products for special occasions and time spent in Nouakchott.
- Nail clippers, tweezers, and/or nail file
- Good razor and a supply of blades (they are available but very expensive)
- Iron tablets/protein supplement/any special needs like textured vegetable protein. Note: multivitamins, calcium, and vitamin C are supplied by the Peace Corps.
- Instant drink mixes *(Kool-Aid, Crystal Lite, Gatorade; similar local variations are available in Mauritania)
- Spices (cinnamon, parsley, basil, salt, pepper, bouillon cubes, and curry are easy to find here; combination Indian, Mexican, or Chinese spices and things like lemon pepper, seasoned salts [e.g., garlic salt], cilantro, dill, and rosemary are not available)
- Powdered sauce packets for pasta, salad dressings, etc., instant flavored oatmeal packets, pancake mix, soup mixes, cake/Jell-O/pudding, hot cocoa mix (in short, anything that only requires added water/milk/oil)
- A good sharp cooking knife
- Small plastic containers to store food (hard to find here), measuring spoons, spatula, good vegetable peeler, coffee press or gold filter
- Big plastic bags, such as the ones that zip closed or press closed, are useful for keeping out dust and sand; they are not available here
- Clif, Luna or other protein bars*
- Internal frame backpack (for travel within country and after service)
- Day pack/small backpack/canvas bag/sack. Note: zippers can break quickly because of the sand.
- Summer sleeping bag (rated 20-25 degrees Farenheit; very compact—it does get cold at night during half the year, plus a sleeping bag is handy for travel)
- Free-standing mosquito net/tent with a floor and zipper entry (e.g., Epco Tropic Screen II* (This can be found at www.campmor.com; alternatives can be found at www.LongRoad.com.
- Lightweight stadium or camp chair
- 12 to 15 ID photos. You will need to have eight photos upon arrival in Mauritania. (requirement)
- One to two pairs dark sunglasses (sturdy and cheap), prescription if necessary
- Swiss Army knife or Leatherman tool*
- Money belt or other way of carrying valuables safely
- American stamps for mailing letters (they can be hand carried back to the United States by various travelers)
- Address book and backup copy (do not forget e-mail addresses)
- Two sturdy water bottles (e.g., Nalgene); a wide-mouth one liter and another big model. Note that you can expect to drink 4-8 liters of water each day
- Cross-stitch, knitting needles, or some other kind of craft for downtime (if this a hobby for you)
- Extra batteries (solar battery recharger and rechargeable batteries).* Note that “C” batteries are hard to find; “A,” “AA,” and “D” are available
- Games: chess, checkers, Othello, Frisbee, backgammon, hackeysack, jump rope, baseball and glove, Uno, LAX stick and ball (good sports equipment and hobby supplies are hard to come by)
- Photos of family, friends, baby pictures, and scenery of America and home (check for cultural appropriateness: avoid bathing suits, alcohol, etc.)
- Calendar, Christmas cards, thank-you notes, and nice stationery (airmail envelopes and graph paper are readily available, but airmail and lined paper are not)
- Journals and good writing pens, pencils, and permanent marker* (e.g., Sharpie)
- Padded envelopes for sending stuff home, like film
- Good pair of scissors (small pair included in medical kit); hair-cutting scissors are a plus!
- Pillow*(especially the small, camping-type pillow) and good-quality cotton bedsheets or towels; they are available here (and you get some from the Peace Corps) but are expensive and not good quality
- Combination lock* (key locks are available in-country), at least two for better security
- Duct tape or strong clear tape*
- Sewing kit
- Cheap toys for kids—balloons, crayons, coloring books, stickers, yo-yos, bubbles (but giving too many gifts may cause problems)
- Maps—United States, North/West Africa, world, star chart
- Posters for room décor
- Paperbacks—but do not overload; there is an extensive library here
- Musical instruments (highly encouraged, but will take a beating from sand and dust; if taking a guitar, be sure to bring it in a hard case and buy extra strings)
- Checkbook—can be helpful if you want to mail-order things from the United States
- Small, inexpensive personal items that make you feel at home (photos, picture frames, etc.)
- Catalog of American clothes to show tailors for clothing designs
- Lightweight, water-resistant windbreaker
- Seeds for your personal garden
- West Africa travel guide
- Scented candles/incense
- Two pairs of sunglasses you can afford to lose*
 Electronic Gadgets
- Your favorite music on CD (CDs will get scratched from the sand, so make copies and leave the originals at home) or MP3 player/iPod (West African music is available, but is not of the same quality you get in the United States)
- MP3 player/iPod/Cassette recorder/CD player* (waterproof is good)
- Satellite or shortwave radio (for listening to BBC and Voice of America)*
- One to two headlamps or flashlights with replacement bulbs and extra batteries (see note above).
- One to two sturdy but inexpensive watches (waterproof; leather or nylon bands last longer than plastic)
- Camera—with a dustproof case and backup batteries
- Film (only 100 speed is available in-country, and it is expensive)
- Laptop computer—many Volunteers have found having a personal laptop beneficial to their work.
- USB flash drive/ memory stick for storing electronic documents (CDs and floppy disks are not a practical means of data storage in Mauritanian conditions) Agroforestry/environmental education Volunteers might consider bringing:
- A lot of vegetable seeds. Typical garden vegetable seeds are available in-country, but they are very expensive and often in short supply. Be creative and help diversify the local diet with foods such as sunflower, zucchini, etc.
- Good quality work gloves
- Durable, but lightweight cloth pants for working in dirt (duck cloth)
 Community health/water and sanitation Volunteers might consider bringing:
- Sturdy boots for work (leather is advisable, not canvas)
- Leather gloves for working with mud
- Work trousers (jeans or duck cloth)
 Small enterprise development, ICT, and education Volunteers should note:
As it is highly unlikely that you will be working in the fields or digging a well, you should be prepared to look professional. You will be working with Mauritanian educators and businesspeople in a small city or the capital. At some point, you will also be meeting with local officials, and since everything is unpredictable here, it is best to start the day looking professional. This means nice pants/khakis (for men), ankle-length dresses or skirts (for women), and shirts with collars and sleeves. Women need to make sure the outline of their legs cannot be seen through the skirt. This can be a disaster for classroom management. Bring a cotton slip. Remember that short sleeves (as long as your shoulders are covered) are acceptable, but tank tops are not. Also, you will be happy to have a few pairs of nice sandals (which are easy to take on and off). A cotton blazer or lightweight big shirt that you could wear over a nice shell or tank top will also get a lot of use.
A suit is almost never necessary for male Volunteers. Bring khaki-type pants that are lightweight but nice-looking. You should also have a tie and at least one belt and a few short-sleeved button-down cotton shirts with collars. Rubber or plastic shower-type shoes are not appropriate at work. Bring a nicer pair of sandals.