Thursday, December 13, 2007

Kid, you´ll move mountains...

And so, we find ourselves at the end of the year. It’s been a good year 2007 has, despite all the bad press it got when it started, and sure, there was that rough patch during April, but we stuck with 2007 through thick and thin, and it paid off. In fact, I feel like Im ready to do it all again with 2008.

It’s been 5 months now at site, and while there is still a lack of concreteness about what I am doing in terms of doing…um… things are moving along nonetheless. I have brains in my head and I have feet in my shoes, and I can steer myself any direction I choose. So while my Portuguese has reverted to that of nothingness, my Creole has been slowly slowly stumbling forward, learning a few new words each day. And with that, I have started having conversations that go beyond the apparent lack of rain to discovering more of the thoughts, wishes, and desires of the people here. And while I am not having deep philosophical conversations yet, I am learning the deeper side of the culture which is helping lead to create in my mind more ideas of projects to work on.

For instance, a friend of mine sent me the book, The Unheard, about a PCV in Zambia who had a few unlucky experiences, as well as being deaf. Which lead me to researching the status of deaf people in Cape Verde. Well, there turns out to be one school that teaches LGP, the Portuguese sign language, and is based in Praia. This means that if you live anywhere, even in Praia, and cannot afford to go to school, which basically means almost everyone, you aren’t learning LGP. I also recently met a deaf person in town and his communication is SEVERLY limited as all he was capable of doing and all people were capable of responding back was with points and grunts. Imagine if this person had a more advanced way of talking about his world and being able to communicate with people. Hence, I am looking for ways to get people trained to be teachers in LGP, which if anyone knows ASL, is difficult in itself.

Other little things that occupy my mind are ways to improve the efficiency of outdoor stoves, so far I have either thought about using mud/clay or recycling tin cans to surround the fire to make them more efficient. I also want to create a weekend story time or puppet (think marionettes) theater for kids here, as there is not much extra activity that stirs their minds. I really like this idea as it will incorporate young members of the community to help read stories or act out plays, will develop skills as we will have to write proposals for materials or money, and it gives the little kids something rocking to do. Plus, as our house has sorta turned into a little after school nursery, it gives the kids a chance to go somewhere else besides our house.

About our daycare center… I had been sent a bunch of toys, some plastic animals or the farm sort, some dinosaurs, some stretchy lizard things, silly putty, a race car, and a yo yo. Well, no one knows how to use the yo yo, but the little animals are played with a lot, sometimes they pretend to eat the pigs because they know I don’t eat pigs, sometimes they stare in confusion at the dinosaurs because we tell them it’s a cow, sometimes they throw the lizards at other kids to scare them, sometimes we play basketball with the silly putty or play dodge ball, but all in all, we have a bunch of little kids that right when we get home, come running in asking ‘Pode brinka ma brinkadieras?’ To which you of course cannot say no.

I taught my neighbor how to make vegan sugar cookies which he and his family ate 30 of in one night, impressive. It was his birthday yesterday, he turned 20, and they made cake and some food and we sang Feliz Aniversario. He is an amazing futebol player, he and his friends made a little team and played against the official Cachaço team and beat them. This is was great and unfortunate as it highlighted the fact that the official team is pretty weak.

Anywho, ill be going to Mali the beginning of January and will hopefully be attending the Festival in the Desert, a music festival 60km outside of Timbuktu that has the best of the Mali and Western Afrikan musicians performing, with the Sahara desert as the stage. Should be pretty cool, plus seeing a different Afrikan country will be a great experience, to see where some of the culture in Cape Verde comes from.

And so, a friend of mine said something a long time ago which she may or may not remember, but has always stuck with me, and has been repeated by other friends in similar, but varying ways. And is summed up nicely by that master of words, that DJ of poetry, Dr. Seuss…

You can get so confused, that you’ll start in to race
Down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
And grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,
Headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place…

… for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
Or a bus to come or a plane to go or the mail to come or the rain to go
Or the phone to ring or the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or a NO
Or waiting for their hair to grow. Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite
Or waiting for wind to fly a kite or waiting around for Friday night
Or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake or a pot to boil
Or a Better Break, or a string of pearls or a pair of pants
Or a wig with curls or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting…

Somehow you’ll escape all that waiting and staying
You’ll find the bright places where Boom Bands are playing …

… On and on you will hike and I know you’ll hike far
and face up to your problems whatever they are

You’ll get mixed up of course, as you already know
You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go
So be sure when you step,
Step with care and great tact,
And remember that Life’s a Great Balancing act…

- From Oh, the places you’ll go

I learn everyday that if you sit around and wait, or if you always need a sign, things will quickly pass you by. All around us are reminders of the transitory nature of life. Why bog ourselves down with rules, with always needing streets for where we want to go, with the thoughts of others dangling like a carrot? Even Superman didn’t give a hoot about the rules when he tricked Zod…

So what I am saying is that like matter, like those pesky electrons and photons, our life is not predictable, there are an infinite possibilities, so why take the straight line to get from A to B?