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, March 01, 2007

Oh Carnaval. Well, in a nutshell, we had a blast. Leland and I got to Mindelo Saturday evening along with two other volunteers from Sal and a good friend of mine, Stephanie who lives on Maio. We all stayed in Casey and Elizabeth’s house in Mindelo. The people here go crazy for Carnaval. The day after Valentine’s day, students began dressing up and putting copious amounts of makeup on their faces. At first, I didn’t understand. Girls had red tights on and sparkles on their faces. I thought to myself, Valentine’s day is over, what are they all dressing like this for? Well, naturally, I asked. CARNAVAL TEACHER!! was the response I got, like “duh, what planet did you come from that you didn’t even know it was Carnaval time. Silly me thought it was in 5 days. They start things early around here. In Mindelo it was much the same. Crazy people in crazy costumes. On Sunday, there was a buzz in the air, we walked around the very cute town and just felt what it was like to be in a larger city. Sunday evening the parades began. Small, and with a few interesting floats. One was made entirely with garbage. On Monday was the big party day. Everyone in town (including ourselves) was scrambling to gather the pieces for their costumes. The children looked as they do in the US on Halloween. Everyone dresses up. The children were in Spiderman costumes, and the favorite costume of a male Cape Verdean between the ages of 16 and 40 is women’s clothing. The cross dressing was incredible. I mean these people go all out. I will post pictures later. But if you click on the link to Courtney’s blog you will see more pictures of the floats and such. Monday evening was another parade, and Elizabeth, a fellow volunteer, participated in the dancing. Afterwords, her group hosted the largest party in town, where everyone danced, drank, and partied well into the morning (although I was a little party pooper and getting sick, so I went home a little early). Tuesday was the day for the big parade. Huge floats made their way around the town along with dancers and musicians. It was truly a sight to see. I have never been to Mardi Gras in the US, but from what I hear, I think the Cape Verdean Carnaval is not nearly so scandalous. There was no bargaining for beads, if you know what I mean, and actually very little obscenity at all. It seemed to be good clean fun, although the amount of alcohol consumed by the general population (not me daddy!!) was quite astounding. Women set up little stands on the sides of the main thoroughfare roads selling drinks like water and soda but also homemade ponche de mel: basically the Cape Verean national beverage grogue (made from sugar can grown here) mixed with honey and lemons to make it sweet and thick. They handmake pastels: little fried pastries with fish inside. Some even set up a grill and sell chicken or pork skewers. It’s quite the event. Definitely very worth going to. I didn’t get a chance to go the Santo Antao, which is the island that is about an hours boat ride from Mindelo. It’s a shame really, I have heard may great things about it. I believe it is one of the more beautiful islands with ribeiras and great green mountains. Leland was there and he said it was very nice. On the way back to my island, I stopped in Sal (Leland and I have to fly through there anyway every time we want to travel from or to our island, so I figured I would just stop and rest there for a few days). I stayed with Caryn (look further down, you’ll see pictures of her. We hung out around her town, I went and sat in on one of her classes, and we went down to Santa Maria, tourist haven of Cape Verde. It really does feel like you’re in Mexico when you go down there. I could have been in any beachy tourist town on the planet. Grand hotels, overpriced drinks, more white people than natives. It was slightly surreal. There was even a sushi restaurant there for a while before it closed (I assume it went out of business, though I don’t think anyone’s too sure). But it was so nice to relax before coming back to my life again here. But all in all a great vacation.

On a separate note, I have been asked to teach a children’s English class at the Youth Center. The children will be aged 6-11, which slightly hinders things since the 6 year olds can’t read, I’ve been told. Anyway, my class begins Monday, and I will be teaching two classes three times a week for the next two months. This is, of course, on top of the teaching I already do at the high school. But we will be doing basic things like ABCs and colors, animals, etc. If anyone has any ideas, please let me know. Reminder: I am attempting to teach English to 6 year olds who don’t even speak a structured language themselves. Oh wait, I barely speak this unstructured language myself. It’s really a good thing I love children. Leland and I were surprised actually; we didn’t think anyone would be interested. I mean the children who are 11 years old, are getting ready to move into the high school where English instruction is part of the curriculum anyway. So what silly parent would want to pay 4000$00 about the equivalent of $50 to have their child learn English they’re just going to forget in three months anyway? Well, apparently a lot. Which is why we now have two classes a day instead of one. Peachy.

Emotions are tight at this point in my life. I have come halfway to the halfway point and am starting to question myself again. It’s not so much that I don’t want to be here, it’s that I really just want to be home. Everyday I think of something else I miss, something small and stupid, but it has an effect. I really do appreciate the packages, though. Aunt Lisa, Heather and Kim, the last package was perfect, so thoughtful, and of course, delicious. Thank you so much, it really does brighten my day, possibly even the week. I know this is just a rough time again, but I’m getting sick of the rough times. I just have to pull through I guess

1 Comments:

Blogger Melanie said...

nadia...stay strong, you can make it through. they told you this first year would be the hardest, and well hopefully they were right. and just to let you know, talking to you occassionally online brightens my entire week (prolly similar to you receiving lovely packages)...so it goes both ways, i want you home too but i also know what you're doing is so excellent and something i could never personally do. so stay strong, keep lookin on the bright side of things and it'll all work out...just think you're another day closer to it all being done with each day that passes!!! love ya and miss ya!

02 March, 2007 20:33

 

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