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, April 09, 2007

The past two weeks have gone by in a kind of blur and I can only hope that the rest of my service continues in this swift fashion. I am coming to a dip in my mood, only to be expected after the emotional high I found myself on when surrounded by people I feel comfortable with and can get close enough to touch, or come in human contact with. It’s not that I don’t have Cape Verdian friends, but it seems, to me at least, that there will always be this barrier between us as Americans and them as people of a different cultural lifestyle.
The week began with those of us first years arriving in Tarrafal, a beach community on the northern tip of the main island of Santiago. We have lost 5 volunteers since our initial training but have recently gained one new volunteer from amongst those evacuated from Guinea recently. We are now, then, 29 first year volunteers. Monday and Tuesday were spent catching up with friends, laughing, and basically reliving a more compact version of our initial technical training. There was an abundance of snacks, including fruits and pistachio nuts (!) (of course food had to make a small appearance in my narrative; it wouldn’t be a Fazel experience if it didn’t impact me in some way. Although I must say that I was neither the only one thrilled nor the most enthusiastic about the appearance of the exotic sustenance). Tuesday evening the second year volunteers arrived in true second year fashion: absolutely nuts. I’m pretty sure this place makes you crazy. The sessions became slightly more interesting and the nights a lot more lively, as it is the one and only time that all 35 or so of us Cape Verde volunteers will be in the same place at the same time. For a lot of us, being isolated on an island with only one or two other people who are like you makes you hungry for the human interaction that only other Peace Corps Cape Verde volunteers can provide. We clung to each other sharing our stories, letting lose, and laughing and laughing until we eventually had to go back to our isolated lives. I, along with some others, tried to stretch out our time away as long as we could and I ended up staying the following weekend after the conference was over in the capital city of Praia. A lot of my friends had decided to hang around as well, so to me it was a no-brainer to tag along.
Last Sunday I got to visit my homestay family in Sao Domigos. I hadn’t seen them since I left for Boa Vista nearly 7 months ago. My homestay mother’s niece had died taking them to a nearby town, but they arrived back to Sao Dominogs in time for me to spend about 20 minutes with them. I felt bad, and told them that the next time I would spend more time with them. It’s interesting to see the way the homes that hosted volunteers have changed in the past few months. Our families receive a daily stipend to support us, which is usually more than enough to support us as well as the rest of their entire family. So needless to say, they usually have some money left over. Houses were remodeled, new TVs and DVDs were bought, and there is a brand new armoire in the room I used to occupy in my homestay household. But I was happy to see them, as they were happy to see me, and I am just sorry that I wasn’t able to visit them before now. I should be going back to that island some time in June or July so I will hopefully be able to see them a little more.
Well I came back to Boa Vista early last week and home to a houseful of guests. Leland had come back the Friday before when everyone was scheduled to go back to their sites and so was here to welcome other volunteers who wanted to extend their “vacation” as I did. We have heard from nearly every volunteer who has visited us here that our site is by far the best site on Cape Verde. I would not argue that point by any means, as our beaches are amazing and this island is relatively safe (although there was an unfortunate experience that happened with two volunteers that were visiting last week being mugged just up the beach from the windsurf shack that Leland and I generally hang around. They weren’t hurt, but it left most of us in complete shock, as this is something that we never hear happens). So Leland and I know we have it good as far as location goes, but the lack of other human contact is something I wish I didn’t have to deal with.
Which is why you will all be happy to know that I have made a rip down calendar that is one page for everyday I have left until my friend Stephanie and I fly to England to meet my family who I haven’t seen now for a little over 9 months (!), a lot for me. It was my way of quantifying an event that I can actually keep track of; plus it keeps me a little saner and gives me something to look forward to every morning (and I might as well confess at this moment that the map of the London Underground system has now become my computer’s background). I begin the third and final trimester of the school year today and I could use all the sanity I can get. I know it will go by quickly and hopefully without too much rediculouslessness, but this is Cape Verde and of course the PC so who the hell knows?
In other news, I did attempt to learn to windsurf, and found myself sore the next day. Of course, I stayed on the sand, just practicing holding the sail in the proper way and learning how to grip it and stuff, but I can now say that at least I have begun to learn! Also, the market just got mangoes back in, so I think their season is picking back up which makes me happy, although they are still slightly expensive, costing about $1.50 for each mango. When the season is in full swing I have a feeling they will become slightly cheaper which is just splendid. And mother, you will be happy to know that in my newfound appreciation of veggies, I have started eating zucchini on a fairly regular basis. I actually quite like the flavor, and stir-fry has become one of my favored dishes to make. Meat and chicken have been a little difficult to obtain these days, so I have officially been a vegetarian for the past three days ☺ Tasha, aren’t you proud?

1 Comments:

Blogger Melanie said...

wowzers nadia! sounds like you've stay quite busy over the last few weeks, but i am definitely glad to hear you got to see some of your "old" friends and get in your human contact. im thinkin of starting a countdown for your return to the US cause i miss you TONS! i am beginning to brainstorm fun ideas for your post-arrival activities...especially if you come right after the bar exam for me. love you and miss you! talk to you soon

10 April, 2007 03:41

 

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