This is a guide for my family and friends about my life as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Cape Verde, Africa. I teach English as foreign language to high school students in Boa Vista, Cape Verde. Also as a disclaimer, the comments expressed here are solely of the author and do not represent the United States Peace Corps, the American Government, or any other governing body.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

August 24, 2006

In America we are such a closed society. When driving by a car accident, for example, who ever knows what is going on? We, as observers are often pushed a side, we are not meant to see what can be unpleasant or private. We build walls and fences to keep everyone out and ourselves locked in. We teachers have Model School in the capital city, Praia, this week and next week. This means we drive the 30 minutes from our small town to the fairly large city of Praia. Do not think city like New York, or even Phoenix. Think city like Rocky Point, Mexico. But Praia is unique in that you can see sparks of “first world” light mixed with the pull of poverty. And yet, today, I realized how open Cape Verdean society is. In Praia, on our way back from school, there was a large crowd on the street and the cars were backed up. People were running in every direction and yelling. Two men came up to our Hiase (the transport car we were all riding in, similar to a small van) and explained to our driver that there was an accident up ahead, but it should not affect our drive as it was on the other side of the road. There were no police, no ambulance sirens, just people who had come to observe or to help, whichever one the crowd would allow. A car had hit a man. We drove by slowly and through the fence of a hundred legs I could see the man. He was lying on the ground, unconscious and on his stomach. His head was bleeding but people were trying to move him. They couldn’t wait for the ambulance; I don’t think there is a word in Creole for ambulance. But here you don’t wait for someone bigger and stronger to do the work for you. There is no need to hide what happens in life. A few feet away, a man was walking away from the body and crying. We assumed he was the driver. I almost cried with him.

An open society lends its way to the necessary sharing of work and other of life’s essentials. For the past three days, they have been digging a ditch down our side street and passed the front of my house, on towards the neighbors’ house. This is for the water pipe, so that the water can be pumped directly into the storage tank, they will not have to carry it anymore. Progressive, I thought. Last night my home-stay mother turned to me, as all the men were struggling to lift a fairly large rock, and she said “In America you have machines to do this a lot faster, right?” and then she laughed. And I looked around. “Yes,” I thought, “we do have machines to do the work.” And I had to laugh as well. Because the scene in front of me, wasn’t of the neighborhood boys (about my age) forced to do this hard manual labor. It was that they were ALL here digging this hole that was for all of them. It was something of an event. And it was hard, and they were tired, but deep down, I don’t think any of them wanted a machine to come and do this work. It was their pipe for their water and they were all there to help because they wanted to be there. This same idea applies to the planting season. During the beginning of August, the boys around my age take responsibility for farming the family land. There is no hired help. But there are friends and their friends also have family land. My home-stay brother will help plant on his friend’s farm, and his friend will, in turn, come the day it is our time to plant. This sense of community is vibrant and rings true with every aspect of daily life. There are no closed doors, no fences or high walls. Just people and their emotional, mental, and physical strength.


Blogger Natasha F said...

I miss you a lot nod pod. I remember this time last year how you were helping me walk and bringing me food in bed because I was so exausted from volleyball tryouts. And now you are helping other people all the way around the world become better educated! Good for you :) I'm glad that you're enjoying yourself there, and congrats on getting the island/roomate that you wanted. We are all so happy slash proud of you :) Stay sweet and don't forget about us!
Love, Tasha
P.S. Volleyball's a lot easier this year than it was last far, anyway.

25 August, 2006 04:01

Blogger brisny said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

28 August, 2006 17:37

Blogger brisny said...

my puppy malcolm enjoys ur posts...

28 August, 2006 17:38

Blogger Nadia said...

Please don't delete the comments!! That's so sad, I want to know who did that. I so look forward to reading the comments. It's like a tiny glimpse I get about what each of you are thinking. So please, please, PLEASE don't delete your comments, i seriuosly want to read EVERYTHING you have to say, good or bad!!

25 September, 2006 10:54


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