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.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

There are only three words I can think of for my current situation: THINGS FALL APART. It reminds be of the Chinua Achebe novel, although I must admit I have never read it even though I know my father is a fan. He is also a fan of the phrase "All good things must come to an end." He is generally right in a lot of these philosophical aspects. Anyway, let me explain.

For a while now, I have been dealing with a little (rather harmless in my opinion) stalker problem. The man is from Boa Vista, teaches at the high school and is believed to be slightly mentally imbalanced. I believe he is also a homosexual (not that this belief is in general an issue, but it is particularly relevant to the story). So why has he targeted me, you might ask. He has an obsession with my boyfriend, Nilton. Nilton is also a teacher at the school and we all worked more or less in harmony last school year. Since Nilton and I have begun dating, he targeted us both when we were together. I have to say that mental illness and homosexuality is treated as somewhat of a laughable folly in this country. Neither are taken seriously, nor do most people even believe that homosexuality exists in this country. I assure you, it does. But let me give you an example. When explaining my situation a while ago to the chief of police on Boa Vista, he finally understood that this man had a homosexual obsession with Nilton and not a heterosexual obsession with me. As the realization struck him, he shook his head as if negating what I had said. Clearly he thought I was mistaken and told me so. "No," he said. "That doesn't happen here. No." This man was a fairly educated person I had though.

About a month ago, the stalking escalated. From what I've learned since then, this man was on medication and had around that time stopped taking his medication for whatever reason. I must also point out that since the stalking and harassment started, the director of the school no longer allows him to teach class, but he is the monitor of the library. She does not have the power to fire him, that is left up to the Ministry of Education. Each school zone has a Delegate of the Ministry that is in charge of all things related to education in that particular zone. It is his or her responsibility then to evaluate the situation and make recommendations to the Ministry in the capital city Praia. Let me just point out that this situation should have been dealt with before the school year started. I have several rants and raves about our Delegate, one being that he is particularly useless, but I would be wasting time and energy complaining about someone I can do nothing about. Anyway, the man now being off his medication was free to allow his mind to wander and eventually made up an entire history for me. When he saw me on the street he screamed obscenities at me, and claimed I was a criminal. The final straw came one Saturday while I was waiting in the teacher's lounge at school for my class to start. He came into the room and spoke to me in English. Luckily for me, another English teacher was in the room and she was able to witness and understand everything that was said to me. Basically he called me a criminal again claiming that my name was not Nadia, and that I had killed several people in the US. He then continued to say that if I continued there he would kill me. Following a meeting with the two of us, the school director, the two witnesses in the teachers' lounge, and the useless Delegate, the ministry agreed finally to do an investigation.

As I said before, mental unbalance is taken so lightly here. People treat it as a joke. Even the police. This man went to the police with his papers he had written about this supposed secret life of mine he had uncovered and they all but laughingly told him to fax it to the Embassy of the United States here in Praia. The Embassy people would take care of it, they need to know! He took their advice in stride. Obviously not realizing the humor and joke of it all, he proceeded to fax this ridiculous information to the Embassy. That's when I got pulled out of Boa Vista.

I am currently in the capital city of Praia and have been for nearly the past two weeks. The decision has been made that I am never to return to Boa Vista so long as I am a Peace Corps volunteer. The exception is when I go back accompanied by a member of the staff to pack my things. I will be there for less than 24 hours before I move to my new home in Mindelo, Sao Vicente. The Peace Corps has been extremely difficult and stressful to deal with, but they have allowed me to choose where I would like to be relocated which was nice of them. I have chosen Mindelo for a few reasons, but mostly because I have visited the city before and I liked it a lot. It has all the amenities of Praia without the Peace Corps constantly breathing down my neck. I will be the only current volunteer there which means I will be living on my own, but there are three other "Returned" PC volunteers, meaning they completed their service. All three are friends of mine as they just completed their service this past summer. I have known them for over a year now. I will be teaching at the Instituto Superior de Educacao, which is not a high school. It's a type of college where students go to learn how to be teachers. My students will be older, they will speak English, generally, and they will be there to learn. It should be interesting.

Please. I did not mean to alarm anyone with this story. I want you all to know that I am ok and while a little emotionally exhausted and at times a little depressed, I am still trying to keep a positive attitude about my new life. It's just such a bummer because it took so much to settle into the life I had on Boa Vista, and to be ripped out of there without hardly any notice has pretty much turned my world upside down. I now sit in limbo in Praia while the Peace Corps finds me a suitable house. The only positive side about being in the capital during this time is going to the bug Thanksgiving dinner at the American Ambassador's house tomorrow evening. All PC volunteers on this island are invited, but you have to bring a side dish. I am staying with another volunteer while I'm here in Praia which is nice, because I'm not by myself in a strange hotel at least. Anyway, she and I will be making broccoli cheese to take to the festivities, and I'm happy that I can spend this holiday with a bunch of Americans and a lot of turkey! Yes, they have whole turkeys here!!!

But I am doing fine now, and I just hope that things go well for me in Mindelo. I wish all of you Americanos a very Happy Thanksgiving. And to my family, I of course miss you very much and wish I could spend this wonderful holiday with you. Perhaps next year. And to the Brits: eat a turkey sandwich in honor of the Americans :)


Blogger David said...

Wait, does this mean you're not actually a murderer? Oh how I've misjudged you. JK, I talked to Leland today and I'm really sorry to hear about everything. Hope you make the most of Mindelo and I'll see you at IST. Forsa.

21 November, 2007 19:55


Post a Comment

<< Home