Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Cape Verde Chronicles Part 4

Memory Lane

From the last time we met, I found out that I was assigned to the desert island of Sal.  No plants, no vegetation.....just dunes, the sparkling warm crystal blue ocean waters of the Pacific, and yet the sight of another drier island known as Boa Vista covered in sand dunes nearby.  We would experience the "Bruma Seca" or the Sahara storms off the African continent as they traveled hundreds of miles across the ocean.  The winds would be so strong at times that cars would be turned on their sides.  I even remember a fork off the road was picked up by the wind and thrown against our home window which shattered the glass panel.  Everyone was to move to the inside of the home.  Everyone thinks living on an island is wonderful, but I'm here to's not:)  There's nothing like feeling helpless or trapped as an ominous dark cloud approaches your home from across the ocean....and there's nowhere to run.  My move to Sal would be "the snap" that I needed to help me focus on what is important in this life.  Today if I ever travel back, my view of the world will have changed and I would look at this country in a new light.  A beautiful woman by the name of Cesaria Evora would teach me the meaning of "Sodadi" or loneliness in my own American way. RIP my barefoot diva...your music is some of my prized collections.  Your words haunting and full of yearning...."What more is there?" So here are more chronicles of my experiences...

Corn makes cachupa!
Dated August 29th, 2000. "Mr. Hankey would like to sing you a song.....and it goes something like this...."Poo is in the air....everywhere you look around!!! I am "emailing" you from the sunny and windy Sal....Things are going well here....and at first I thought I was going to hate this place....but things have turned out better than I ever could have imagined. This is the biggest place for tourism and until this weekend I didn't know why.....but then I saw the miles of beaches. The sapphire sparkling water is warm, the waves incredible, and it's only a walk away from our house! However I can see both sides of the island at certain points. I'm trapped here."

Our farewell..
My letters get progressively worse. Dated October 26th, 2000. "I miss Central America, South America....Mexico.  I wonder if coming to this part of the world was the right decision. My group that was once 30 is now 24....another volunteer has returned back home.  She was on the island of Santo Antao....the GREEN island! Last night my awesome roommate, Syd, made some type of fried egg sandwich which tasted really good.  I don't know what I'd do without her.  She has kept me from going insane.  The students here are a nightmare and not like the ones on the main island.  We had a knife incident, a 20 something guard having relations with one of my 8th grade girls,  a teacher dating one of his students, rocks thrown in thru my classroom windows at other getting hit in the head.  Is any of this worth the headache or the frustration?  Or the worst part...tourists interrupting my class to give the "poor" African children candies.  All they want are handouts.  None of them know how to do things for themselves.  It's a strange culture.  In Espargos, the capital of the island Sal, the students are really wonderful, but then I have to head to Santa Maria for the other half of the day.....and this is the tourist town.....and the real issue.   To find happiness, I go to my rooftop and watch the planes fly overhead.  Big large planes.....flying to different destinations all around the world.  Sometimes I just hang out at the airport to be around people coming and make me forget.  I've taken so many things for granted in life.  A kitty comes to my roof and looks at me.  I remember both my cats back home and I offer our little visiting friend leftovers.  She stares back at me."  This cat would become our "pet".  She was feral but she also controlled our cockroach population.
My awesome future roomie on the island of Sal!

October 28th, 2000.  "I hate it here.  I've walked the island and while it has its beauty, there aren't any plants!  My neighbors have several in pots and they are gold.  Water is a finite resource here and it only comes once a week to fill our tanks.  If we forget to turn the spicket on, we won't have water to wash our clothes, cook our meals, or take cold showers with!.  They say Tuesdays are the day, but that isn't always true.  It requires constant checking to make sure that we don't flood our tanks and have water flow into our home.  My roomie is wonderful.  In a moment of inspiration, we went to buy concrete blocks to create planters on our patio.  Thank you Grandma and Mom for sending vegetable seeds.  Our patio is now a container garden.  I don't know what I'd do without it.  Everyday I check to make sure caterpillars aren't eating the leaves.  I've set a box near where I garden for my cat friend to sleep while I work with the plants.  The soil here on this island is no good.  We brought soil in from the other island and it is doing the job. "

Watch your feet while swimming:P  These little black sea creatures will sting you:)
Tomorrow I finish the series of this life changing adventure.....
 Ancient ruins from a time past....near Cidadi Velha.
 My worst fear.  Fish food.  Looking at this pic makes me sick. But maybe you think otherwise:)
 Traditional Batuk dancers
 An island in the middle of nowhere.  Sodadi.
The last shot is the one that seemed to always happen to us.  We had an exhausting day and during a quick sit, goats decided to rain on our parade.  But to be honest I had some fun here.  My friend was irritated:)  I mean who doesn't love goats!?
 Chilling with my host brothers in a ribeira where farmers grow their fruit trees

Market day


  1. i can imagine you returning to your container garden after each day to find some peace and hope. :)

  2. I've been enjoying your Cape Verde Chronicles...the good, the bad and even the fishy! I'm not a fish person either, you sure endured some difficult moments. :)

  3. Even if I am not fond of reading long paragraphs with small fonts in blog, i read your chronicles, word for word, that is because it is making me smile. And i love the way how you put your feelings in there. I fully understand, but I am sure those experiences are the most powerful teachings you have now!

    1. Well I would have to say that writing these were difficult because I'm not that person anymore BUT you're absolutely correct when you state that things were powerful lessons. The interesting part was that I thought it would lead to me to one thing and yet it made me more aware of the things around me. But I definitely got the "stranded on a tropcial island" experience:) Hope you have something fun planned for your weekend:)


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