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, November 23, 2006

There is a saying here: N ka ten forca. It literally means "I don't have the strength." I have come to understand that it actually implies something along the lines of "I don't feel like it" or "I don't have the energy to do this." My physical strength has been waning this past week, though I have not been able to attribute it to anything in particular. I have not been able to get through the day without a lengthy nap, which is odd considering that I sleep very well most nights. I am fatigued, and while my metal strength seems as strong as ever, it had appeared as though I had little to blame on my downward motion of my physical state of being. It has perplexed my mind these past few days which has led me to contimplate its origins. While I have long since been the most fit person in my family, I believe that my endurance here is stronger than it has been in a while. I walk everywhere, and when calculated out, it tends to be about an hour's worth of walk a day. And the weekends are not without the occassional swim in the ocean.

My next thought went to the heat. It is still scortching hot here, and I spend most of my day sweating. But being an Arizona girl, this doesn't concern me much either. As to the sweating, I thought I might be a victim of dehydration, but Leland and I find that we have to fill up our 7 liter water filter almost every day to keep up with out water consumption. We are rarely without our trusty Nalgene bottles :)

After this I considered the food, and that I was perhaps malnourished. But how could it be so? The food may be plain, but I rarely find that I lack one of the major food groups (except fruit because it's so darn expensive, but I eat a lot of jam which I figure makes up for almost none of it, but hey what can you do?). I try and and eat as many different colors of vegetables as possible and make a conscious effort to take my vitamins. So that can't be it.

And then it dawned on me. While my physical strength is down, it is merely a symptom of my underlying problem: emotional endurance. I am leading a completely solitary life. I have no friends, no family, no one (besides Leland, not to undermine his valuable position as roomate) to share my current state of life with. When the Peace Corps tells you to prepare to be lonely, they don't mean physically lonely; I clearly misunderstood. They mean emotionally. Having grown up in a very tight knit family, they were always there for me, and I rarely lacked a large amount of friends to pad my support system. But now I am here on my own, and on today of all days I am feeling it most. My eighth graders today did not understand what Thanksgiving was and had heard little of the holiday itself. But when I explained to them that during this large scale holiday families in America gather in a way similar (if not more so) to Christmas, they immediately understood that I "fika triste hoje" (that I am sad today) and why I did not have the strength and usual vivacity in class. It is the first time I have ever been separated from my family on this grand holiday. And while I have not cried yet (go me!) I know that emotionally, I am drained and this solitary life is starting to take its toll.

Leland and I are cooking two halves of a chicken today, as we cannot buy a whole chicken, let alone a whole turkey on this island. We have decided also to make mashed potatoes and, at my insistance, roast potates. Thanks to my mother, we have a plethura of gravy and we will make some sweet corn. And for dessert, choclate chip cookes (also, thank you mom) Small scale, but it is just the two of us Americans (besides some crazy old guy somewhere we keep hearing about) so there is no point to go crazy. My emotions I know will pick up, for there is nothing left to do but accept and move on. Which is what I am resigned to do and my will power will just have to overcome my current state of emotions or I will never survive. But I am determined to, so I take this as any other day and continue in the current life I have chosen.

Happy Thanksgiving to all, and know that you truely all have something to be thankful for, myself included (ok I ended cheesy I know sorry).

PS. it must be a sign, but the American guy just walked into the Youth Center where I am sitting writing this, and he really does look a little crazy, ha:)


Blogger Melanie said...

nadia...i wish i could give you a gigantic hug right now. i cant even imagine being away for so long without your family or friends you know so well. but just remember how much you are helping out your students and how much you are growing as a person. you are amazing and your strength to make it this far is so remarkable. im sure the holidays are going to be tough cause its always a time to be with family and friends but if you can make it through this time, i know you can make it through anything. i love you and miss you tons and hope your thanksgiving dinner turned out well!

24 November, 2006 02:30


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