My journey continues in the beautiful country of Cape Verde. Here is another letter dated July 31st, 2000. "As I type to you now, a cockroach has left my keyboard....um....this is actually quite gross.....no I haven't changed.....things are quite nasty here at times.....but they are also just as fascinating.....sometimes I want to scream and other times I just smile. The other day I was walking in Tira Chapeo(a place to throw the hat)....a very poor neighborhood in Praia.....it was like watching those shows with the skinny kids and seeing flies all over the place....and on their faces....people living in VERY poor conditions....I went through my first culture shock. We walked these streets that were very narrow and dusty....I found the bone of a human mandible with teeth still intact on the ground.....there was a smell that overpowered me at times......and there are moments when I almost lose my lunch. Streets are lined with trash and there are areas where humans just used the bathroom right on the sidewalk.....which includes number 2 if you know what I mean....and I walked with my sandals through it all.....To make it worse, I see pigs eating the diapers off the road. Here garbage is thrown everywhere! I suppose this is good for me to see, but it challenges me more than I want to admit to others.....because I need to be the strong one. Yet we pass a home where a dead man lies on his bed with his loved ones surrounding him before they put him into the simple wooden casket and carry his body to sea. A man without legs scoots out from his home on only his arms. It shocks me. In Cape Verde, the disease is chopped off instead of treated. The treatment is too expensive. Eventually we end up at a home where women gather.....and it reminds me of why I am here. The stories. The adventures. The knowledge of existing in a world so foreign to me outside of my comfort zone.
I love this place....weird as it sounds...there is something here that is very alluring.....and it happens with a simple random act of song. Boy can they sing here! We're sitting around the table.....the women started to clap....then pound on the table....then both.....there was laughing and happiness....and then they broke into an incredible dance of song with rhythm so unique to the area. I witnessed an authentic West African dance! and one of the most amazing things I had ever seen......it was a great way to end that trip to the neighborhood. Well the best was in the shower afterwards as I washed the dirt and smells off my body.
My host father, from Senegal(and very French) pulls out this beautiful lobster for a snack.....and I look at it as it looks at me.....you all know how difficult this is for me. I am not a fish person. I might be able to eat this lobster, but it's looking at me and I want to run into the other room.....I just don't want to be rude. So I stay. He breaks the lobster open and all this stuff gushes out....right there.....I want to throw up....but I stay and begin eating it with him. I have traveled all over the hispanic world without incident, but nothing prepares me for this experience. At first, it is actually good....the tail part and the claws....but then he doesn't stop. He goes for the lobster brains and I start getting sick.....and I forced myself to eat this chilled delicacy and dip it in the sauce. I gagged and almost lost it at the table so I politely excuse myself to the bathroom where I brush my teeth.
In my house, there is a mouse......he is my good luck charm and there is a huge millipede walking around at night by my bed and I scream as I almost step on it.......This is going to take some getting to used to....
Last night I had a magical moment.....it was in the city of Cidadi Velha(the Old City)....it was a small town along the ocean....old cobblestone streets.....and sugar cane.....coconut trees.....bananas.....and coffee! A tiny area surround by a lush landscape!!! I was in heaven. And there is a wonderful breeze to move the air.....live music on the street. Two canoes on the ocean with candles lighting the way with the sparkling night sky above us......it was indeed a moment and one that makes me smile.
Well enough of this chatter.....I hope you are all well....all my love. Kreesh"
Lol!! What a wimp I was!! That's why getting older is great! It's hard to reprint some of this stuff, but it helps me understand why I have a higher tolerance for things. This past summer in Panama, my friend went through these same feelings during our stay at the turtle conservation program. I now understand why I was patient about it all:) When we leave our comfort zones, we are tested by facing those unknown challenges. We can either learn from them or run back to our security. Either way, it's a learning experience. More adventures to come.....