MAURITANIJA – MAURITANIA – MAURITANIE – موريتانيا‎

Dine pred zalazak sunca-Dunes at the sunset

Dine pred zalazak sunca-Dunes at the sunset

Dnevni ulov-Daily catch

Dnevni ulov-Daily catch

Kamile-Camels

Kamile-Camels

Oaza Tirdzit - Oasis of Tirjit

Oaza Tirdzit – Oasis of Tirjit

Oaza Tirdzit-Oasis of Tirjit

Oaza Tirdzit-Oasis of Tirjit

Prodavacice suvenira-Souvenir vendors

Prodavacice suvenira-Souvenir vendors

Pustinjska krcma-A desert auberge

Pustinjska krcma-A desert auberge

Pustinjsko rastinje-Desert plants

Pustinjsko rastinje-Desert plants

Razgovor na vetru-Talks in the wind

Razgovor na vetru-Talks in the wind

Razmena stihova-Exchange of verse

Razmena stihova-Exchange of verse

Ribarska plaza-Fishermen's beach

Ribarska plaza-Fishermen’s beach

Senki dzamija - The Chinguetti Mosque

Senki dzamija – The Chinguetti Mosque

Senki dzamija-The Chinguetti Mosque

Senki dzamija-The Chinguetti Mosque

Ulicna trgovina u glavnom gradu-Street trade in the capital

Ulicna trgovina u glavnom gradu-Street trade in the capital

Po izlasku iz aviona u toplu pustinjsku noć, ugledao sam ležeći polumesec nad Saharom, kao na zelenoj zastavi ove zemlje. Već sledećeg dana, duboko u toj pustinji, u biblioteci sa prastarim spisima, arapskom poezijom i tumačenjima Kurana, čuvar tih arhiva recituje Hafeza, a ja mu odgovaram Disom, on zatim Ismaila, ja Lazu Kostića, on meni svoje stihove, ja njemu svoje. To neobično recitovanje odvijalo se na smenu kao u ovim manuskriptima, u kojima su strofe kaligrafski pisane različitim bojama, jer su ih stvarali razni pesnici, koji su se na taj način natpevavali. Čuvar kaže da je to porodično blago staro vekovima i da je sada njegov red da ga spase od termita i ostalih mogućnosti propadanja, sve dok Unesko ne pokaže malo više interesovanja.
Do pre desetak godina, ovde je ležalo još tri metra peska koji je krio tajnu stare pustinjske naseobine koja se naziva, Šingeti i koja je, kažu, u XVI veku brojala trideset hiljada stanovnika. Bila je to raskrsnica karavana i čuvena škola islama, s najstarijom džamijom iz tog vremena na ovim prostorima. Između nje i kamenih zidova, izniklih iz peska, danas prolaze i opsedaju vas male dosadne Fatime, uporno nudeći sve vrste lokanih rukotvorina.
Još jedan nezaboravan doživljaj je prenoćište u lokalnom zemljanom domu u nekom takozvanom Auberge-u, uz čaj od mente koji se više puta presipa i pada sa visine u tankom mlazu neposredno u čašicu, tako da postaje gušći i jači. To je njihov ritual.
Do obližnje oaze Teržit teško se stiže jer je skrivena između visokih stena jednog kanjona, a svojim dubokim hladom, gustim palmama i prirodnim bazenima pruža osveženje u dugom pustinjskom danu.
Prestonica Nuakšot ne pruža skoro ništa zanimljivo, osim jednog mesta koje je toliko živopisno da se na njemu može provesti čitav dan. Ogromna plaža na Atlantiku nije plaža za kupanje, koje u muslimanskim zemljama, posebno ako nisu turističke kao ova, nije popularno. Plaža se naziva Ribarska plaža, Plage des Pêcheurs, na kojoj vlada neopisiva i šarolika gužva od više stotina ogromnih, raznobojnih ribarskih čamaca-piroga i hiljada ribara i ostalih pregalaca u tom poslu. Oni izvlače neke čamce, a druge guraju u vodu, vade sveže ulovljevu ribu i tovare na magareće zaprege, a žene tu ribu prodaju na obali ili je seku na komade ako su prevelike. Stalna danonoćna aktivnost daje plaži posebnu draž u kojoj se ribarsko šarenilo spaja sa sunčevim zracima u neopisivoj simfoniji svetlosti, zvuka i mirisa. To je lepota jednog trenutka u ovoj ogromnoj pustinjskoj zemlji, koja pruža još jedan jedinstveni doživljaj, a koji mi je ovog puta promakao. To je najduži voz na svetu sa približno dvesta vagona, koji na severu zemlje prevozi gvozdenu rudu, a ima samo nekoliko vagona za putnike. Sećam se filma u kome je poznati britanski glumac i putopisac Majkl Pejlin uskakao u taj voz u svom dugom pustinjskom putovanju za BBC. Iako nisam uskočio u taj voz, mnogi drugi vozovi me ipak pamte.
A i ja njih.

Februar 2010.
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As I disembarked from the plane into the warm desert night, I saw a reclining Moon crescent above the Sahara, just like it appears on the green national flag of this country. The following day already, deep in the desert, I am in a library containing ancient scriptures, Arabic poetry and Koran interpretations. The curator of this collection recites to me the poetry of Hafez. I respond by reciting poetry of a Serbian poet Vladislav Petković Dis, then he replies with Ismail, I with Laza Kostić, and so on, we exchange our poetic heritage. We take turns in this unusual reciting contest, just like in the old manuscripts I examine where couplets were written in caligraphy in different colours to distinguish different poets who wrote them, trying to outdo each other in the beauty of the verse. The curator explains to me that this is a family heirloom many centuries old and that it is now his turn to save it from termites and other perils until UNESCO shows some interest in preserving it.
Until ten years or so ago, all this was covered by an additional three metres of sand obscuring the secret of an ancient desert settlement called Chinguetti, which, it is said, had thirty thousand inhabitants in the 16th century. It was a major crossroad of caravan routes and a famous centre of Islamic study, with its mosque being the oldest in the entire region. Somewhere between the mosque and the walls of ruins sticking out of the sand, a number of small women shuffle by offering all kinds of local handicraft with such insistence that they become a nuisance.
Another unforgettable experience is spending the night in a  local mud-brick house, which they call an Auberge (Inn), savouring the mint tea which is decanted several times and falls in a thin stream from high up straight into a glass cup so it becomes thicker and stronger. It is the African tea ceremony. The nearby oasis of Terjit is difficult to reach as it is hidden between the rocks of a canyon, and its deep shade, thick palm leaves and natural pools provide much needed refreshment in a long dry day in the desert.
The capital Nouakchott does not offer almost anything of interest, apart from one place which is so picturesque that you can spend the whole day there. A vast beach on the Atlantic is not a beach for swimming and sunbathing as they are not popular in Muslim countries such as this one. This beach is called the Fishermen’s beach, Plage des Pêcheurs, and it is besieged by indescribable hustle and bustle made out of hundreds of huge, multicoloured fishermen’s boats – pirogues, and thousands of fishermen and other workers. They pull some boats out and push the other ones back into the water, freshly caught fish is brought out and loaded on to donkey carts, while women sell fish on the shore or cut it into pieces if it is too big. Non-stop activity, throughout the day and night, gives a special charm to this beach where the multi coloured fishermen’s world blends with sun rays, creating a stunning symphony of light, sound and smell. This is the instantaneous beauty of this vast desert land, which offers one more unique experience – which unfortunately escaped me. It is the longest train composition in the world, with some 200 carriages transporting iron ore in the North of the country, with only a few passenger carriages. I remembered a documentary in which Michael Palin, a British actor and travel writer, jumps onto this train during his long BBC journey through the desert. Even though I did not manage to jump on this one, I remember many trains I did get on. And they remember me too.

February 2010

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