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.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

July 30, 2006

As my mother neatly pointed out, clearly the blog entries are not up to blog snuff. So as I sit here in the dark, my typing only guided by the raised notches on the ‘f’ and ‘j’ keys, I contemplate a topic to direct my current message from the (usually) sunny archipelago of West Africa. But I am in the dark, as the power has left us and we are forced to bathe and eat by candlelight. It doesn’t bother me. The thing is, I came into this expecting the worst. The volunteers on the African mainland have come to call the Cape Verdean Peace Corps experience ‘Beach Corps.’ Honestly, we don’t have it that bad. Except for the occasional power outage, the house I am boarding in for the next few weeks is larger than many flats in London and in New York. The rainy season is here and so I have become a midnight snack for various mosquitoes and I’m sure the occasional spider. But I am happy. And the beaches here are really nice. Every once in a while you see the creepings of tourism threatening to consume the beauty. How could it not? People are always looking for something new and different. Volunteers here have mixed feelings on the tourism bug. Some don’t believe a society should survive based on servicing other people. But there really isn’t much else here. I marvel at their ability to grow corn and sugar cane on these islands. Particularly here, in my little temporary town of Sao Domingos. We are situated in a valley, and the mountains are steep, but they farm and it produces and I am in awe. People find other forms of sufficient income. My home stay father drives a bus in Praia; he is gone before I wake up in the morning. I believe this affords him a sufficient living. Everyone here also has animals they raise and then sell when they are of adequate weight for slaughter. I am reading a book right now called A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry. It is a well-written novel; slightly depressing and he drags sometimes, but I almost feel like I can relate. He talks about the slums of India and making it in a world that feels as though it doesn’t want you to succeed. I by no means am in the slums of anywhere; nor, however, am I in my Paradise Valley home. I am in the middle, but have thus far traveled a journey that has taken me a little closer to someone else’s existence; I look at my old life from their existence, and I can’t help but smile. When I sit with my host mother and some of the local neighbors, I think: “these people are truly happy, they want for nothing.” There is a huge sense of community here. Just last night there was a neighborhood party with more delicious food than I have had yet. They all pitch in a little money and if you don’t give money, you are responsible for making and bring grog, the locally made alcohol (a little while the locals gave up on competing to sell their sugar cane for sugar, so they found a way to compress it to form a really disgusting alcohol that’s cheap and clearly a better use for the cane). The community is the one thing I admire most. They care for one another and there is absolutely no rush to do anything. People call it ‘island time’; I personally call it a good time :)


Blogger danielle said...

Thats soo awesome! You sound so happy! I am so excited for you! While I think I am having a busy day with preparing for another semester and making teddy bears, your in school all day long! Keep doing what you doing girlie! I am surprised that they have french fries their so you couldn't have asked for a better place to be. Can't wait to hear from ya again!

10 August, 2006 23:19

Blogger Valerie Fazel said...

Hey Nadia

This is your daddy having just read what I consider to be a truly beautiful piece of writing. It encompasses a lot and tells me the kind of community and people you have chosen to help. How noble of you. As you probably now realize this is somewhat the kind of culture I was brought up in in East Africa and a lot of it sounds so very familiar to me. As I had a chance to reminisce while reading your article, I couldn't help those lumps in my throat overwhelm me. Still, Im glad you are having somewhat of a similar experience in many ways. You will certainly cherish them for the rest of your life - just like I do. Remember how I always say something reminds me of Mombasa :) Before I could once again express that same comment when we landed in the Island of turks & Caicos in the Caribbean 10 days ago, Wise Mom already spoke it for me. We will tell you about our experience there when we talk to you on the phone later today. In meantime, take care of yourself and know that we love you and miss you.

13 August, 2006 19:14


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