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.

Friday, April 27, 2007

25th April 2007

Yes, the blogs are really piling up. Well, I am able to get on the internet now, but it is a very slow process. My computer-savy roommate explained that the main cable isn’t fixed, so the country is using a satellite replacement as a temporary solution. Apparently the satellite doesn’t carry nearly as much bandwith and with a country of 500,000 people using the same line, it gets a little slow. But I think it was a very bad idea to have a temporary solution. The mind set then becomes, ‘well, at least they have something, we don’t have to hurry to fix the problem.’ Brilliant. So for now, I will continue to write journal style and publish all million blogs when the internet allows.

Well, this past Monday was national Dia do Professores, or teacher’s day. So a great day was planned for all the teachers on the island. This of course includes the high school as well as all the primary schools. I would say there were about 100 or so of us teachers who participated in the day. They arranged for us to go to Venta Club, the humungous resort hotel that’s outside of the city, about a 20 minute drive. The Venta Club is an all-inclusive resort for tourists, so we never really see the tourists who stay there and they never really see us. Everything is included, and they have their own private secluded beach, swimming pools, a couple of restaurants, and their own discothèque. So everyone piled in the bus, and for about $20, we were given our run of the hotel as well for the entire day.

Needless to say, the problems started before we even walked in the front door. The teachers were told to pay 1,500 escudos (about $20) to be able to go. Everyone paid ahead of time. When we arrived at the Club, we were told that the actual feel was 2,500 escudos, about $15 more. The outrages started. No one brought money with them as this was an all-inclusive day, and who needs money? When you get a lot of Cape Verdians together, they tend to get a little overbearing. And since most of the teachers were women, they were not hesitant about letting their opinions be heard. Well since we were all there and making a slight fuss (although I have to interject this and nothing against primary school teachers, but it was they who were making all the noise. Those of us high school teachers were pretty blaze about the whole thing and willing to pay the extra 1,000 escudos later, as we didn’t have it with us) the Venta Club decided that they would let us in for an extra 500 escudos to be paid at a later date. Right. Like that’s going to happen.

Anyway, the place was amazing. And maybe my judgments a little screwed because I haven’t been around that sort of thing lately, but the place was nice. It was so big, and it had good food, and beautiful views and it’s own private secluded beach. I could definitely see why a British or Italian tourist would come to Boa Vista for vacation. Because you could be anywhere. On any beach in the whole world. There was no one else around for miles. The beaches in my town of Vila are 20K away, there is no one to bother you. So we Cape Verdians (I’ll just include myself in the group as I felt like I was anyway) spent the day lounging by the pool, eating, and for me, feeling really normal. I watched and got excited about a game of soccer, I played tennis on a grass court (aren’t you jealous daddy?), and swam in a (very cold, but who cares) swimming pool. It was really cool.

Trouble was bound to surface again in this perfect day. The main restaurant in the hotel is a buffet serve yourself type of place. They have a variety of different types of food, dessert and since it is all inclusive, a variety of beverages as well. So lunch came around and the hotel reserved an area of the sitting room for us and we were allowed to go and serve ourselves along with the other tourists. Now, even though the hotel is quite large and there were quite a few people staying there, the addition of 100-150 extra people is felt, especially in a dining hall. Our addition made significant lines and the food ran out quicker. I am sure that there was no lack of complaints from the guests. It’s not that we were that pushy (although the Cape Verdian culture doesn’t really include standing in line, it’s more of a just shove your plate in the front and grab what you can) I can see how the guests were frustrated with the sudden change of pace. Well, the evening dinner came around and we were told we could no longer serve ourselves; that there was now a set meal and we would be served. But we were asked to stay in place meaning out of the food serving area. Begin uproarious protestations now. Some people boycotted eating, some tried to leave and go home, all the while screaming about racism, that the blacks weren’t able to mingle with the snotty whites in their own country. Let me tell you something that my good friend Elizabeth (who is Cape Verdian) and I discussed: 100-150 people of any size, shape, or race, are a nuisance. They do get in the way, of course they do. I don’t think racism was behind the change of service, but it was a little abrupt and not explained properly, so of course there was going to be an issue. But the hotel had to bring in extra people to serve us and prepare dishes especially for us (although to add insult to injury they served us catchupa in between our appetizer and entrée leading people to believe that we were having that for dinner. Catchupa is the national Cape Verdian dish consisting of corn, some beans and occasionally ham pieces. Let’s just say it’s like putting a plate full of grilled cheese sandwiches in front of Americans who just paid about $20 for this dinner and telling them that’s what there was to eat). Anyway, this change was no easy task for them. Obviously, it was for the comfort of the guests and to make things a little easier on everyone. Anyway, but they turned our visit into Cape Verdian culture day, so afterwards there was a band who played Cape Verdian music (actually the only band on Boa Vista) and we all danced. And when I say we, I mean all the Cape Verdians and the tourists watched, which was awkward. I would have asked one of the torusits to stand up with me, to get them included in the dancing, but I was afraid I’d get a look like in the movie Dreamgirls when Eddie Murphy sings in that fancy Miami beach hotel to all the white people and the one woman jumps when he points at her (yes they have some new movies in the video store it’s very exciting). Anyway, it was just an interesting experience to be in such a segregated group, where such obvious racial tension was present all the time. Anyway so that was my day, it was a very good time, and I will post pictures when I can. I hope everyone is well.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Nadia, I was finally able to read your entries and I must say they were very fascinating as they usually are. I always look forward to reading them and was a little disappointed when I learned that you were having internet issues and weren't able to post anything for a while. I want you to play as much tennis as you can so I can have at least one child who might be willing to play with me :) And yes, I am jealous that you got to play on grass. Perhaps we might get an opportunity to play on grass while we are in England. Can't wait.....
Love, DAD

28 April, 2007 23:27


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