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

Saturday night, Leland and I decided to attend a Gala. Yeah I said Gala. Who knew, right? We paid about $20 to sit in a large discoteque that was converted into a rather nice dining hall, complete with table service dinner and (nearly) full bar. There was live music, presentations of art and other artisan work, and all the who’s who of Boa Vista was there. It was another one of those things where Leland and I had to keep kicking ourselves to remember where the hell we were. Namely, in the Peace Corps on an African archipelago, and not in New York City or Chicago at an art exhibition for the latest chic artist. We were dressed to the nines, surrounded by most people who were speaking English (although there were Cape Verdians there as well, among them mine and Leland’s counterparts as well as some other teachers from the high school). The Gala was put on by an Italian who owns the main grocery store in town and is married to a Cape Verdian and now lives here. I don’t think his initial design was to make money, I think it was an attempt to bring an elevated ‘something’ of the western world to a country that is conflicted as to whether it wants to join that world or not. At any rate, the event seemed to be somewhat of a success although not all the tables were sold. The food was ok, served in ‘European portions’ (Cape Verdians tend to serve their food heartily and on a generous pile of rice, beans, and french fries) but was brought out in 5 courses. A coursed meal. Yeah we were surprised too. I think I’ve been to a total of about 5 dinners that contained more than three courses in my whole life, the majority of these being weddings (although the one more memorable one was the one in Paris, France where my family and I went one night, and in between they brought us these Champaign classes full of palette cleansers in three different colors, one being green, it was so odd. Remember family?) Anyway, the idea that I was sitting at a Gala being served my second entrée while sipping on a glass of wine was entirely ridiculous to me, but made me feel just a little more human, even if most human beings don’t engage in that type of event on any type of regular basis. That’s not the point, really.
I live a completely different life from what I know like to call my “former life.” Any semblance of that life makes me feel a little more alive, even if it was not a regular occurrence in this “former life.” But I have no access to regular occurrences from my “former life” so these snippets of irregularities have to do to keep the memory and emotional feeling of who I was alive. I can’t go to Wal-mart, Target, a normal video store, the movies, the mall, or shopping really of any kind. So the abnormal ‘Western-style’ occurrences that happen, even the ridiculous ones such as Galas, are taken advantage of and loved for every minute they allow me to remember what it was like to live a life that I was used to.


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