Yesterday was my first day back at CNA, the place I’ve affectionately called “The Mothership” for the past fifteen months of my assignment at the Center for Complex Operations. While at CCO, I was working on an analysis of the Trans Sahara Counter Terrorism Partnership (TSCTP), which is an interagency U.S. government program to counter terrorism and violent extremism in the Maghreb and Sahel. I’m hoping my report will be published by the end of February – inshallah.
Working on this project, I learned a lot about the complexity of foreign assistance, and how much more I have yet to learn on the topic. I’m a very hands on learner, so fortunately I had to travel to nine of the ten TSCTP countries. At the time I traveled, I’d accordingly code-named them for security reasons: African Country A (Niger), African Country B (Chad), African Country C (Mali), African Country D (Senegal), African Country E (Morocco), African Country F (Algeria), African Country G (Nigeria), African Country H (Mauritania), and African Country I (Burkina Faso).
Here’s a few pics from my travels & some blurbs about the kinds of things I got myself into when I wasn’t working.
View of the Niger River from my hotel room in Niamey
Entrance to the Grande Mosquée de Niamey
Prayer Rugs at the Grand Mosque
Niger Police Academy course
Chillin w/the Gendarmes. As you do.
Grilled Capitaine fish in Bamako. Nom nom.
View of Dakar skyline from overloaded speedboat. When asked if the boat would make it back to Dakar, the guy driving said “On va essayer!” (We’re going to try!)
Terrace in M’Bour (south of Dakar) on a dune overlooking the ocean. Best office I’ve had to date.
Grande Mosquée Hassan II at sunset in Casablanca
Moroccan village on the road to Ouarzazate
Inside the Hassan II Mosque in Casa
Selfie on a camel. What what.
Riding a camel was on the bucket list, even though it’s très touristy. But I didn’t like the way this dude was looking at me.
Famous sign in Zagora that says 52 days to Timbuktu by camel
I made my first tajine! It had chicken, peas, and artichokes. It was compellingly mediocre – but my teacher was not to blame.
Road trip through the Atlas Mountains
The real reason my tajine was uninspiring was b/c THERE WERE KITTENS!!! I played with them instead of listening to the instructor.
My favorite Mauritanian ice cream: “Beat milk goat for a long time to get dessert.”
In case you forget how to use the toilet, here are some overly details instructions.
If you fly Air France enough, they sometimes decide treat you a little better than something they wiped off their shoe. Here’s the lounge in Ouaga. Klassy!