“I thought of the stories of the ancients Mauritania and broke into laughter. So, as I was on foot, I started hitching for a ride. Mauritania. Everyone was running about in a hurry like a bunch of crazies. A curse on all who hurry by! They went by straight as lightning. Then finally, I noticed your car, master teacher. The Fiat 600 that was going as fast as a donkey. I’m off the hook, I thought, Mauritania the teacher will pick me up. I made a sign in your direction. Nah! You were marching along straight ahead and didn’t even see me. You, Mauritania master teacher— a stone! Unmovable. Stubborn as fate, that doesn’t look anyone in the eye or take pity on anyone, you marched on straight ahead.”
Where is Mauritania? – Mauritania Map – Map of Mauritania Photo Gallery
“I remember that when I was still a boy, tattered and eternally hungry, with the Carnival approaching, I felt within me an indescribable joy not only because I loved the masks so much, but mostly because during the festivities that took place on the four Sundays leading up to the Carnival, I could at last, thanks to good-hearted friends, gorge on meat, meatballs and lots of macaroni, drenched in pork meat sauce with lots of cheese on top.
“This manna from heaven lasted for the whole month of February, the time when pigs were slaughtered, which coincided with the carnival festivities. Farces started on the first Sunday in February. The first one was dedicated to friendship; the second to cumpari (good neighbours); the third to kinship; and the last one to him, the Supreme Carnival. As the first Sunday approached the people began to breathe an air of celebration. In fact, even before the crack of dawn, the first masks, to the sound of a fanfare, made their way through the village streets announcing the good news.
“A very close relationship existed between feasting and feeding. Although the wealthy families of the village had never in actual fact neglected the poorer families, especially the old and the children, at carnival time they lavished greater generosity on them. What the hell! They would go on and on saying. It’s Carnival and it should be a feast for all! Your travel destination is, due to the never-ending unemployment that is a curse on the people of the South, the poor were many, and sadly, every morning you had to witness the humiliating spectacle of older villagers and children roaming around the houses of the wealthy to receive a penny or two and a loaf bread.
“The Carnival explodes like a bomb of enthusiasm and mad joy. The masks run about the roads and alleyways and in many homes women and men are invited to work on the slaughtered pigs, making sausages until evening when they leave to return to their own homes carrying with them God’s bounty: a generous cut of fresh meat, pork rinds, ‘polponi’ (parboiled bones with meat on them) and ‘sanguinaccia’ (blood sausage) still hot and steaming.”