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.

Monday, September 25, 2006

25 September 2006

I feel like our lives have just become amusing jokes. Not to everyone else. But just to us. Leland and I constantly find ourselves in situations that would, under normal circumstances, make us angry or frustrated. We find now, that we can't really do anything about anything so we just laugh. And our lives are somewhat unhumerously funny. We are still living in a hotel (and yes, if you do the math, that is now 14 nights). Yes, the hotel has it's positives for sure, like air conditioning, and I don't clean my own bathroom. But let me just tell you that when it comes to eating, WHAT A PAIN IN THE TUSHIE!! There are mas o menos 5 restaurants in all of Vila Sal Rei. That includes our very expensive hotel restaurant. So, needless to say, we absolutely dread meal times. Eating out all meals of the day might sound like a tasty treat. And it might be if all the restaurants served different types of meals. You know, a little Chinese, a little Mexican, a little American flair. Yeah it's not so much like that. I rotate between a circle of about 4 meals: chicken, tuna, spagetti with tuna, and pizza (believe me NOT Oregano's style). Each dish, everytime, is served with french fries, rice, and a 'salad' (by this I mean sliced tomatoes, and the occassional piece of lettuce or if we're lucky some carrots :)) My cholesterol level has skyrocketed I'm sure. The independence of having your own home where you can cook for yourself and add some variety and flavor to food is sorely missed. Leland loves to cook as well, so for us this is our small torture. Meal times have become chores and completely dreaded events. Which is such a bummer, because you all know how much I love to eat. Leland and I spend most of our meals immagining we were eating something else. We often say things like "Yeah! And when we have our own house, I'm totally gonna make ENCHILADAS!!" or "Chicken CURRY!!! Yeah!" I say, "I can't wait for my mother to send me all those INDIAN SPICES!!" And so the majority of our discussions now revolve around the dream schmorgasbourd (sp??) we will create the instant we move in. We have even gone so far as to go online to look up recipes. Stuff we can make with the limited supply of ingredients available to us on this island. I think we have a small cookbook by now. Thinks like casserole, chile, tacos, enchiladas, alfredo sauce. Yes I have even looked for the perfect way to make my own tortillas. Whenever I get a free moment on the internet I browse through Leland is a member at We are going loony. I am aware of this. But, as I am a Fazel, I already have food on the brain more than most. And how does the old saying go? "You only appreciate something when it's gone"? Or once you've lost it? Something like that. Well we for sure miss the flavor of eclectic foods and the lack of a home just becomes an even greater hole when we don't have a place we can create our own things, or have a tiny glimmer of control on our lives. And I can't believe I went on that long about food.

But school has started. And when I say started, I mean it just sort of began. Classes are supposed to begin at 7:30am. So me, being the fairly prompt American that I am, decided to get there this morning at around 7:10. I don't know where my classrooms are yet, and I thought this would be a good opportunity to ask Denise (my counterpart and director of the school). Well not one single solitary soul was at the school at that time this morning. Well I come to find out that acutally we won't really be teaching today, or tomorrow, or probably the next day either. Dude, what?? This week is pretty much just a type of 'getting to know you' series of information sessions. Today the director talked to the whole school (and actually it was just the 7th, 8th, and 9th graders as the upper levels don't have class until the afternoon) and the teachers went around and introduced themselves. About 1/3 of the teachers just simply decided not to show up. And, of course, my schedule has changed. I am now only teaching 22 hours a week (yay! one whole hour less!) and I am now teaching 8th, 10th, and 11th. They also did the language teachers a small favor by rearranging all the classes so they are no longer mixed level. But that also means that I am teaching a total of four different levels. My 8th graders are Level II, along with one of my 10th grade classes, the other 10th grade class is Level IV and my two 11th grade classes are Level III and Level V. But I don't really mind. I spent all yesterday making Trimestral Plans (plans done by week to show what you will teach in general each week of the trimester) and daily lesson plans for each level for each day. It sounds like a lot, but once you get into the grove, things flow pretty well. It may change, like so many things do.

But Leland and I have come to accept change as a part of our new lives. When something doesn't go as planned, we aren't surprised; but it does surprise us a little if we didn't see the change coming. Change has ironically become our constant, the only thing we can count on these days. We have adapted remarkably to 'going with the flow'. A mental necessity that is crucial to the survival in this little world of ours. The initial dust storm has settled and we have been left with a faint (but potentially wonderful and much needed) direction, never-ending patience, and acceptance. We have found ourselves content, and looking forward to our new life here.

We often joke that if World War III were to errupt, well first, we would have no idea (we're a little removed). And second, that we might be in one of the safest places on this earth. The ambiance is so relaxed, so 'chill' (for lack of a better word, sorry). It took a little bit to slow us fast-paced Americans down. But we have evolved and wedged ourselves into this welcoming society.
Now if we could only find a house... :)


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