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, October 31, 2006

It was an action-packed weekend folks. I learned a few things, that I am happy to say make me a better person all around :)

1. Contacts + dust + chalk + saltwater = Very red, itchy, and painful eyes. Glasses are my new best friend.
2. Why Mr. Martin threw chalk at his students. I often get this ridiculous urge to throw the piece of chalk I am holding at a student who is not paying attention. Of course I never do, as chalk is expensive and I don’t want to waste it, and I’m not sure if throwing stuff at the students is allowed. But every time I think about it, I think about Mr. Martin.
3. Even if the directors of the school promise the meeting will start on time, it won’t.
4. Afore mentioned meeting will go on for an unnecessarily long time (in fact I am currently in said meeting writing this fun list; don’t worry, I found out later I actually didn’t even need to be there).
5. The attention span for focusing on understanding a foreign language you only semi-understand is on average 7 minutes. When spoken in a meeting you weren’t really supposed to be at, this average reduces to about 3 minutes.
6. Playing with your cell phone, including taking photographs with sound effects and answering a call in the middle of the meeting is perfectly acceptable.
7. Boa Vistans are very proud of their music.
8. If you have a (relatively) famous Boa Vistan singing in an open forum, you will attract all of Boa Vista.
9. When both your eighth grade classes invite you to the beach at a specific time telling you that it is someone’s ‘birthday’, get suspicious.
10. When hosting a janta (dinner), if you invite 20 people, you may end up with 40 or 10. You never know. So always plan for 40. Leftovers are delicious anyway.
11. A janta is apparently the only thing that (unexpectedly) starts on time.
12. Nowhere in Boa Vista do they sell an oven dish in any way shape or form. Even if they say they do, they don’t. So using a metal serving tray is perfectly adequate.
13. Avoidance is the only way to get someone to stop asking to be your boyfriend.
14. You gain an incredible respect for sunscreen, and obsessively put it on three times a day when the “fungus” on your face has started to form little lighter colored spots and getting tanner only makes them more noticeable.
15. You hate the word “fungus.”
16. Your fellow drunk male teachers are just like any other drunk male colleague in a chauvinist society: they hardly say anything to you the entire seven weeks you have been working with them and then in one night manage to say to you the one thing that’s gonna make the next day at work VERY AKWARD.
17. Everyone shares everything. (And I mean everything).
18. If the evening temperature drops below 88˚ and there is a breeze, I suddenly miss my sweatpants and scarf.
19. The loofa and the washing machine may be the two greatest inventions on the planet. Followed closely by the KitKat bar.
20. Leland and I are too old and tired to wait for the discothèque to open at midnight. We tend to fall asleep waiting. Yes, we were all dressed up and ready to go.
21. Watching an animal be slaughtered, skinned, gutted, and then served up on your plate a few hours later is actually not as off-putting as originally thought (sorry, Tash).
22. Why Joao Galego and neighboring towns are called the Norte (North) even though they are not even remotely north of here, so much as they are directly east, and slightly south. Story goes that the first village that was built on this island (Curral Velho meaning old village) was on the southern part of this island. They then built the towns of Joao Galego and few others north of the original city. Sal Rei (where I live) wasn’t built until much later, so the term Norte refers to the towns being north of the first original village of Boa Vista.
23. Joao Galego is probably the coolest place on earth. But after lunch, if you try to help your hostess clear the plates, she will give you this look that she is so grateful she is about to cry, all the while laughing and slapping your hands telling you emphatically “no! no!” And you apologize not knowing if you’ve offended her or that she was a little touched that someone actually offered to help.

Like I said, action-packed. The busiest we have had so far. Leland and I are usually so exhausted from the week that we end up being grateful for the lazy Sunday. Friday night there was live music in the central square and all of Boa Vista was there. That night Leland and I managed to make it till 11:30 pm before we had to head home. The disco was out of the question for me as I have to teach class at 8:30 Saturday morning. Saturday night Leland and I decided to throw and dinner party, or rather just serve dinner to a few of our friends. So all day was spent cleaning house and preparing food. It was a fairly small affair but one that has snowballed into several other invitations to several other gatherings. So, all in all, well worth the effort. And we now have enchiladas to last us for a week. One of these invitations was to Joao Galego on Sunday. I have mentioned this town before as it is the town Leland and I almost moved to a few weeks back. One of my colleagues, Helena is from Portugal. Nine years ago she came down to Boa Vista on a Portuguese-sponsored teaching exchange. She now lives here permanently with her husband, Tony, and their son, Peter. She is probably one of the nicest people I have met here so far. Tony’s family lives in Joao Galego and they usually go down there on Sundays. This time, we were invited along. We went to the beach and then spent the rest of the day in the town hanging out and of course, watching the goat get slaughtered and gutted. Earlier at the beach, we watched the fisherman clean and gut a moray eel they had just caught. Tony bought a couple, then they were battered and friend for us a few hours later. It was actually very delicious. It almost has the texture of sea bass, as it is a very fatty fish. It was Tony’s aunt who refused help from me (see point 23). But it was definitely a weekend to remember. I only regret not taking my camera. Oh well, there is always next time!


Blogger Melanie said...

omigosh nadia--sounds like a ridiculously eventful weekend. im glad you are starting to feel in the groove of things and such. and um yeah, the watching of the killing, skinnging..i cant believe you actually ate it! thats crazy. anyways i love you and miss you tons!

31 October, 2006 17:17

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh Nadia, How incredibly funny; I was chuckling the way through. Keep deflecting those (ahem) advances from male coworkers. I have to get Aaron to read your blog especially about Mr. Martin with whom he is taking Nazi this semester and Vietnam next. I sent you a padded envelope on Monday the 30th--let's see if it arrives earlier than three weeks! Love, Mom

01 November, 2006 19:31


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