Thursday, December 18, 2008

Come on people now..

And buy some Cape Verde Bicycle Organization T Shirts from Sonadei and/or a messenger bag and/or donate money to the cause. Time is slowly counting down and we need a fund to purchase helmets. Help me help others.

Tell someone you know about this project, or if you happen to read this blog and havent bought a shirt yet, what are you waiting for?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Papa´s got a brand new bag


{NOTE: This was written way before Thanksgiving, and as you might have noticed, was posted way after Thanksgiving, so some information may be for not} The “holiday” season is upon us, and by us I mean you since it isn’t the holiday season here. The lojas don’t begin decorating for Natal (Christmas) until about the week before. Anywho, while you are planning your offensive plans for the turkey bowl, or figuring out how long you need to cook that 5lbs tofurky, why not let yourself melt away while reading some of my holiday inspired ramblings. Oh what fun.

But maybe I should start with some Peace Corps or Cape Verdean related items? I don’t have much, I am still making my knitting thingamajiggey proposal, you’ll know when it’s done because I will have put it up here for all to peruse. We are still a bit short on the bicycle fund to purchase helmets, so when you are making those last minute holiday purchases, don’t forget to get a few Cape Verde Bicycle shirts (see previous post for all links). My English classes to mold future students into my likelihood have not gotten off to a good start, and by that I mean they haven’t started. What else, oh, Carberinho, ta spera, ta spera, ta spera…vida de costa.

Ok, on to the nittey gritty. Hmm, that’s an interesting phrase if you stop to think about it, which I just happened to do. As many of you may know, I have a new hat. My friend at the park, who I am working with on that knitting project, made it for me. Guinness has already called me to put it in the 2009 edition under “Awesomest Hat Ever”. Its surprising how many times I have been included in that most scholarly book. In January I am planning on embarking upon a hike of such grand proportions it will require more than one sentence to fully describe it. I am going to hike to Carrical, and possibly the far eastern edge of the island. This is almost equivalent to hiking from London to Ulaan Batar in Mongolia, twice!!! Assuming I can arrange a donkey and 5 liters of water, I foresee no problems.

I also plan, or want to plan, a trip to Mindelo and onwards to Santo Antao where there is supposedly a French or German man who makes cheese. I go not for the cheese but more for the fact that I have been told he has tables that have a little trough in the middle filled with various ponches. I guess I’ll do some hiking too while there.

Rumors abound in Cape Verde, and one is that a boat has started up again going to Sal. As you will recall, the last SN – SAL boat met its unfortunate demise at the bottom of the ocean. As have a few other Cape Verde boats. But this new (old) boat has rekindled hope in all that island transport, while shoddy at best, is still being half heartedly looked at by someone.

World AIDS Day (I assume a day in which to highlight the work done against it, not in support of it) will be celebrated in all its regality here in Cachaço. On December 1st, those crafty little Peace Corps volunteers along with Amigos Unidos will hold possibly the biggest, greatest, loudest, boldest, quirkiest, liquidiousest World AIDS Day known to humanity. Only the Romans, if they still had their little empire, could possibly have rivaled our event. The event will include: An information session, a theatre performance {didn’t happen}, free AIDS testing, condom giveaway, SNACKS!!!!!!!, among many many many other things (not determined at this time). If you are in the neighbor, it would behest you to stop and witness the greatest spectacle to possibly ever occur on this little floating ball we like to call Earth. {As hindsight is 20/20, I can accurately say that the event, beyond being the single greatest AIDS day event ever held, was such a rounding success, nearly a quarter of all Cachaçeans came out, and half of those got AIDS/HIV tests}

This past weekend, the 5th and 6th were Municipal Day in Vila. The whole week they had lots of events, mostly cultural stuff celebrating the island, and then the last two nights had music in the high school soccer field. This year it was a group from Santo Antão. They were good, covered a bit of Bob Marley. Anywho, like most festas here, I didn’t enter until 3am. There were horse races on Saturday and on the last race, one of the jockeys (actually a child) fell off the horse. He lost.

Up next in Cachaço and Sao Nicolãu is Natal and Ano Novo. There are a few national holidays in January, not sure what exactly, and then the big granddaddy, Carnival in February. The park will continue chugging along, with a few loses come the end of the year. But the CV government will be taking over, which means a wee bit less money than the $4,000,000 dollars the UNPD had given the park for the last four years. We’ll see what happens.

O minions of mine, I believe my typing hands have gone dry. Enjoy celebrating the genocide of the natives we massacred and jellied cranberry sauce {I made a pretty good pizza for Thanksgiving, so you should be equally jealous}. Mmmm, that’s good stuff. Till next do we meet, I leave you with this question to ponder: Is it all just what it is, or is it more?

(NOTE: The picture is a view from my roof looking towards the mountains of Covada)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Seven Veils of Ignorance (aka - Go Obama!!!!!!)

Owing to the fact that Tom Robbins is one of the best American writers, I am dedicating an entire (nearly) blog entry to his wisdom, and his concise cataloging of the various ignorance’s that shield our eyes from seeing the truth of life.  Some of them self imposed, some placed by others.  Below, you shall find the truth that lies behind the seven veils, which when peeled away during the dance, allows us the chance to take control once again. 

 

Veil #1: Earth, the planet, is a feminine creature.  Males have attempted to compensate for this by creating patriarchal religious systems and society.

 

Veil #2: Human beings DO NOT have dominion over plants and animals.  We like to pretend we are outside of or above nature, but we are not.

 

Veil #3: Many, if perhaps not all, our problems are caused by politics, politics can not solve our problems.  Our struggles go beyond race, classes, colorful flags, systems of beliefs, etc etc, they harbor in the vastness of the search, both inward and outward, for the divine within and without.

 

Veil #4: Religion is not the answer.  Once you take the divine and create a system around it, it no longer is divine.

 

Veil #5: Money is an illusion.

 

Veil #6: We live life NOW, in the present moment.  People sacrifice the present for the future or live the present crying of the past.

 

Veil #7: You have to do it yourself.

 

When these seven veils fall to the floor and there you stand naked, you might find life is harder (in that you begin thinking for yourself, you begin realizing that the answers don’t lie out somewhere else, that you shouldn’t sit around waiting for tomorrow when its today), but the sweet rewards are worthwhile. 

 

Anywho, since we have numbers on the brain like a sizzling tofu scramble on a hot iron skillet, lets get down to the final four.

 

The Final Four – A brief summarization of the four major projects I am, will, and/or plan to concentrate on for the remaining time of my Peace Corps service in the Republic of Cape Verde, a small island nation consisting of ten islands, nine of which are inhabited, and many islets and sits roughly 500km off the western coast of Dakar, Senegal in Afrika. (You might be asking yourself why I spell Afrika with a “k” and not a “c”.  Well, it is only our fickle English language that uses the letter “c” in the spelling of Afrika, whereas in all Afrikan languages they use the letter “k” or its equivalent).

 

1 – Bike Project.  Still working on building up the funds, so now not only can you buy a normal cotton shirt, a recycled shirt, but you can get a recycled messenger bag too with the awesome Cape Verde Bicycle Organization logo!!!!! Holy Sweetness!!!!  Here are all the links you will ever need to buy and donate money to this project:

 

 

2 – Protected Area status for Carberinho.  The report is nearly finished and then it goes to the head honchos in Praia where we hope that politics (see above) works its magic to declare this beautiful and important area a protected area.

 

3 – English help for high school students.  Beginning soonish I will give English help for those students who take English classes in high school.  I think this is a productive way to use my wondrous English skills to help those trying to emanate me. 

 

4 – Knitting/Crotchet/whatever it’s called.  In the infant stage, this project hopes to join some wonderful people back in the states who have already collected yarn or other knitting supplies, along with soon to be future suppliers in the states with some local women here to give workshops on how to make knitted (or whatever it’s called) crafts to develop a sustainable means of income.  Naturally, more on this to come as it develops and blooms.

 

So, once again, there you have it.  With all those pagan oriented religious holidays coming round the corner, what could make that special someone happier than a squirrel invited to Thanksgiving dinner than a Cape Verde Bike shirt and messenger bag.  Nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  Well, maybe donating a whole bunch of money to the bike project too.  But besides that, nothing. 

 

PS: A shout out to my brother from another mother, Melissa, who is sporting some bike project advertising on her blog, http://paradoxish.blogspot.com.  She also puts up some great info on environmental topics, political stuff, and other things that work to remove the veils of ignorance.  Rumor has it she also sells collector sports memorabilia on ebay,


PPS: Yay Obama!!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Depois – Reflections on Afrikan Adventures which in hindsight didn’t need to be made nervously by PCV Parents

They came and went in less time then it normally takes to get a hiace to go to Tarrafal on a Sunday afternoon. The visit of the Parents was a whirlwind affair of multiple island adventures, slight, SLIGHT, deviations from the proposed plan, and overall a quality introduction to a so called Afrikan nation.

Below, in a style reminiscent of the pre-Jewish populations in the land of Canaan, I have listed several highlighted aspects of the visit:

  • Day 1 – Parents arrived exactly on time, as planned. This might have been the first and last thing that went according to plan. After a few photos in the hotel room, the Parents take their first stroll in Cape Verde, and eat pizza. Power went out at night.
  • Day 2 – Not spent in Sao Nicolau. A few fun filled hours in the airport however. Man, I really love spending endless hours in the Sal airport. Anywho, we decided against going to Sao Nicolau right away and instead opted to see more of Sal. The Father wanted to buy a new watch and sunglasses so we went to Santa Maria. He ended up not getting anything…except for some t-shirts. Dinner in the dark.
  • Day 3 – After tiring of Sal, we head to Sao Nicolau. Calmly and without effort make our way to Tarrafal. Take some hotel photos, and take a walk during the absolute hottest part of the day. Actually thought the Parents were going to melt. Quality time on the terrace. Since we weren’t very hungry after not eating anything, had a nice late dinner. The Mother had a very good soup. I could live on soup. Not sure if the power went out.
  • Day 4 – While not officially Tuesday, still called Wild and Wacky Tuesday. Our hired car arrived not only on time, but early. And in our hotel room. What service! Made our way to the farthest reaches of the island to R. Prata, where the little known Nile of the West was still raging after heavy rainfalls. Several dead hippos still lay along the shores due to the voracious appetite of this river. Before I knew it, the Parents were forging their way across, playing with piranhas, and helping old women carry water across on their heads. I think the Father even wrestled a crocodile if I am not mistaken. Still full of energy, made our way to Carberinho to witness the beauty of nature. Did some more terrace-ing. Power went out. The Mother joyfully discovered some of the local fauna on the bathroom towel.

  • Day 5 – And back across the island to R. Brava, otherwise known as Vila, otherwise known as Stanxa. A strenuous hike through the European like streets of this old town, we ended up taking in the pleasures of the terrace at our Pensão. Enjoyed conversation with various travelers, all with secret stories that nobody seemed to know. Decided it would be best if everyone wear a card that told their stories. Dinner on the terrace. Went a bit heavy on the malagetta. Think the power went out for a short while.

  • Day 6 – This is it; the reason the Parents came to Cape Verde, to see Cachaço. Got an early start as the Father wanted to hike to the peak of Monte Gordo before it got too hot. After peaking in record time, made our way back to my house and conversed for a while with neighbors. Seemed all agreed that the Parents were younger than they had been led to believe. Not sure how old I had made them out to be. After having a salt free lunch, seriously, completely salt free, amazing, the Parents made y neighbor cry a few times and we ended our day in Cachaço and returned to our terrace in Vila. Introduced the Parents to catchupa, grog, and oro (an Afrikan game using stone and a wooden board with six houses on each side). Power went out at some point during the day.

  • Day 7 – We arrived at the airport a tad early, a tad earlier than the actual airport staff in fact. Again surprised by TACV, the plane actually arrived early, but TACV redeemed it self by not taking off till it had left late. Ahhh TACV. Anywho, made farewells to the Parents, knowing they had a short trip ahead of them back to the USA. For me, went back to Cachaço and immediately asked if I missed the Parents and if I cried. When I answered negative to both (it had been less then an hour since I said goodbye) I was labeled a bad person. Ahhh, Cachaço.

So that’s it. You can compare the intended plan and the actual plan to judge for yourself how the trip went. A raging river crossed, the hated Mayor, meetings with Senegalese and various family members of Toi, cabbages thrown out hiace windows, bags of rice left behind, and many other things that at first glance may appear chaotic to the intrepid American trampist, but even after a week seems normal and commonplace.

BUY A SHIRT!!!!! à www.sonadei.com/catalog/CVBO.php ß Look for the recycled version. And after buying a shirt, donate a little bit more. Its tax deductible….I think. And then, since you are already on a roll, take a walk, ride a bike, put yourself back into the cradle of nature that we have left behind when we built our little empire. Pick up one piece of trash; make the world we all share a better place. If we don’t love one another, who will?

Friday, October 3, 2008

Antes – Afrikan Adventures made nervously by PCV Parents

It has been requested perhpas at the highest eschaleons of whateverhood that a blog entry be drafted that records the before and after of the visit of my parents. So, I figured what I would do would be to catalog the intended plans, and then to remark later on what actually occured. So, below you will find a little something I like to call, “The Intended Plans for the Visit of the Parents”

Day 1 (Domingo, Oct 5th)

¨ Parents arrive as expected at 4pm at Sal International Airport after a lovely and short trip from Lisboa, Portugal. I greet them in the local fashion and we head off into the litter free town of Espargos, Sal where we dine in the basking light of the sunset and sleep in the mosquito-free hotel room

Day 2 (Sequnda, Oct 6th)

¨ After a wonderful night sleep, we make our way to São Nicolau onboard our TACV aircraft. The plane naturally takes off on time and there are absolutly no problems.

¨ Upon arrival, we make our way to the other end of the island where we will begin our week long island adventure, in Tarrafal and the Pensão Alice.

¨ Lunch at one of the fine eateries along the waterfront

¨ Bask in the warm, but not excessivly hot, sun at the beach

¨ Take dinner which is prepared all salt free

Day 3 (Terca, Oct 7th)

¨ The adventure really beings as we take our charted excerusion vehicle to the outter reaches of the island to the secluded town of Ribeira Prata. With vibrant greens and flowing waters, explore the town while the locals go about thier humble lives barely lifting an eye to the three white people walking amongst them. Maybe we have a light snack.

¨ Next stop, Carbirinho, the site where a Peace Corps Volunteer (ahem) is working on having the area proected and included into the Protected Areas Network. We will wander around along the coastal area where millions of years of erosion has created an artistic pallet in the rocks.

¨ Return to Tarrafal for lunch and some light relaxation.

¨ Go for a local grogue testing at one of the fine grogue establishemnts.

¨ Pizza night?

Day 4 (Quarta, Oct 8th)

¨ Goodbye Tarrafal!!! We leave our humble abode of Alice, which has been cool and mosquito free the entire time and make our way into the heart of the island, where the clouds collect, the mists roll in and out, the jungle meets the farms, and this PCV calls home. Thats right, we make our way to Cachaço and Parque Natural Monte Gordo.

¨ A day of exploration in the park, in the town, meeting and greeting.

¨ We lunch at Bia’s house, my neighbor. Again, all food is salt free

¨ After lively conversation in which all people speak fluent crioulo, we make our way to the capital of São Nicolau, Vila de Ribeira Brava and check in at Pensão Jardim

¨ Free afternoon wandering the little streets, maybe do some shopping along the famous Rua de Lojas, or watch local street artist perform their various crafts

Day 5 (Quinta, Oct 9th)

¨ Whew, after all the adventure, we spend a lazy day in Vila. Wander along the winding roads of this Portuguese-esq like villa. Walk along the gently rolling hills, taking in views of the villa as well as the ribeira leading to Cachaço.

¨ Maybe make our way to Praiainha, the white sand beach full of cows. Yes, I said cows.

¨ OR.... we make our way to Juncilinho to wade in the lagão, hike to the rim of the anceint volcano and enjoy this tranquil town

¨ Break the Yom Kippur fast with a light dinner of locally produced tuna for those of us who eat tuna.

Day 6 (Sexta, Oct 10th)

¨ Nearing the end of our adventers, we either return to Vila from Juncilnho, or wake up refreshed in Vila.

¨ Perhaps this is our lazy day, or perhaps there was something we missed along the way and we make our way there.

¨ Spend the day reflecting the first, and most likely last, Afrikan Adventure for the Parents.

¨ Last dinner, watch the Afrikan sunset with gazelles and giraffes in the distance

Day 7 (Sabado, Oct 11th)

¨ Wake up, enjoy breakfast, and head on to the São Nicolau Airport, recently awarded the 2007 Award for Excellence and On Timeness

¨ Say goodbyes as the TACV flight takes off perfeclty on time and all the luggage gets on the plane.

¨ Wave as the Parents head off towards Sal, whence this all begin and they go to thier connecting (a short while later) flight back to the good old US of A

So, there you basically have it. While adventurous, it is humble in scale and scope and easily executable. Will it pan out as planned? If not, where did the hitch come into play? Was there a lone mosquito this plan didn’t take into account? Did the unthinkable occur and TACV arrived late? All these quesitons and more will be answered in the next blog entry entitled, “Depois – Reflections on Afrikan Adventures which in hindsight didn’t need to be made nervously by PCV Parents”

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I am so G R A T


Now, I might not be a worldly scholar on the topic of religion, or theology, or whatever the kids call it these days, but I do consider myself an expert with a PHD and as such can spout my opinion and justifiably diminish what others say as wrong or inferior. With this in mind, let us continue…

I recently read a few books where some aspect of religion played a part. Regardless often of this particular aspect, one constant was the dismissal of the religion by other characters or members of the fictional society. Why is it that the beliefs of people who have a belief in a religion, in things unseen and improvable are often ridiculed yet we, at least western society, have this unshakable and unquestionable faith in science? If scientist actually talked about science in actual terms, in the fact that at the base of all these theories lies faith, that they have to accept that the things they cant see or prove are there, then what’s the difference between science and religion? There isn’t any, its all faith in something.

Our lives are dictated and operated upon faith at all levels, from the level that when you go to sleep you will wake up the next day to faith in invisible forces working to keep an airplane afloat to faith in an invisible being that created a world. Without faith, our lives would be a mess. If at every moment you questioned absolutely everything, you wouldn’t get much done. However, it is built into our systems that we have an underlying faith in the workings of nature and life.

But then its mocked when it disagrees with accepted beliefs, or with whatever the masses are told is true to keep them in line like sheep at pasture, because what could be more disruptive to a system that requires unquestioning workers then free thinking people. Imagine a world where absolutely everything is basically empty space and assumptions and you have the basis for what science tells us our world and universe is constructed of. Perhaps its true, but either way you have to believe in it, you have to accept it on faith and move on otherwise their whole system crumbles like a cookie crumbles when you take a bite and little pieces break off and fall onto the table, like that.

What’s my point? Anything and everything is possible. It’s our faith that makes our lives and our dreams possible.

Rumor has it that the new first year volunteers will come sometime near the end of September, but Peace Corps isn’t talking much so I don’t really know. The Park is ticking along, tough the Phase1 part of the project ends in December, which really means that the millions of dollars of financing being provided by the UNPD ends, and in theory the Cape Verde government starts picking up the tab, but none really knows what’ll happen in the Phase 2 part. But, I am working hard for marketing what we got here, with the local handicrafts to the wonders of Monte Gordo, we are making a pamphlet and gonna put it in airports and other places, hopefully drumming up some more tourists for the island.

The rains are still coming, since they started in August its been wet and green here. Places that haven’t seen rain or green for years are sprouting. The corn is growing, and the sweet water festival in R. Prata is a month earlier this year thanks to all the rain we’ve gotten so far. Is this an end to the dry years, or is this a fluke year? Who knows?

Well, I don’t really have anything else to say. Except buy a t-shirt to support the bike project!!! Recycled shirts are available, I think at the same price. Or better yet, buy a shirt and donate $20. Or even better, buy a shirt, donate money and then tell a friend or write about the project or if you have a blog or web site put a link about it.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Shirt Update

Hey all you shirt buyers out there!!!!

Sonadei now offeres the same awesome Cape Verde bicycle shirt in a recycled format. They use industrial textelie strips and recycle them inot shirts. Sweet

http://www.sonadei.com/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=32&products_id=89


So now you should buy one of these too. So far we have rasied about 13% of the needed funding for helmets. Please help me help others by buying a shirt or donating money. Or both. And tell your non shirt buying friends too.

Ok, thats it.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Inspriron


Seems like I’m chock full of anniversaries. As of September 1st, I will have been on São Nicolau for one year. That’s one year at site, working at the park, living in my community in Cachaço, etc etc etc. What’s it all mean huh, what has a year serving in the Peace Corps meant, etc etc etc

Well, I, like all other PCV’s, certainty have my thoughts on the Peace Corps as a whole and also on my local level in Cape Verde. In general, I believe that PC is trying to get older people to join, which I think is definitely the right move. After 40 years of grass roots development, the majority of places that PC has been now need a higher level of development beyond digging wells. This means more people trained in small business development, older people with skills in forming organizations, marketing, production, etc etc etc. It’s good that it seems PC is leaning more towards this now. Lo, PC is and always will be a governmental organization, which is very apparent in the way it is run and how it interacts with volunteers.

After one year here at site, my close neighbors feel very much like family, and I believe they very much view me as family as well. They provide for you if you need anything, they help take care of you if you are sick, they teach you things you need to know. Perhaps the best aspect of my service so far has simply been the people I have gotten to know here. One year at the Park and, well, lets just say I await to see what this next year will bring. There have been several good things that have come so far from my work at the park, like a health workshops, helping develop several local families to provide food for tourists, working with the guides and monitors, and my continuing work on creation of a new protected area. Did a few trash clean ups as well.

Outside of the Park, I have had community English classes. That was three months of work, and if and when I do it again, I hope to take my lessons learned into consideration. But everyone loved them and ask when there will be more classes. Working on the bike project has been a slow processes. I now have my proposals done in English and Portuguese, and will now go to the local organizations to get their full support and hopefully some money from them too. (Buy a t-shirt!!!!! Or donate!!!!!! Or both!!!!!). I imagine that over the next year a few other small projects will pop up, but I realize that while being a PCV is certainly about the work you do, its equally about the relationships you make and the exchange with the people.

Come the end of September new 1st year volunteers will be shipped out to the islands. For now PC is keeping volunteers in the dark about the new trainees. I am hoping we get a small business volunteer though. A news report yesterday said São Nicolau is the poorest island of Cape Verde, so we need to help create development for the people here.

PCV’s from the mainland have comments about the Cape Verde post as an easy place for volunteers. While it is certainly not difficult living in Cape Verde (not using a latrine, I typically always have electricity, etc etc etc) the difficulties arise in other ways. Such as it is harder here to at first see the need for a PCV, or where and how you can make a difference. The challenges PCV’s face in Cape Verde are very different than those on the mainland, but I think make being a volunteer equally as hard.

Anywho, some Cape Verdean music artist that people should check out are:

Ildo Lobo

Tito Paris

Tcheka

Bau

Bana

Etc etc etc

My favorite of the moment is Tcheka, really good music as it’s a combination of Cape Verde and a slight hint of west Afrikan music.

Alright, that’s it. Stay tuned for more exciting blogs about my adventures in Cape Verde, about the bike project (BUY A SHIRT!!!!! DONATE!!!!! TELL OTHER PEOPLE!!!!!!) and other things, etc etc etc

And remember, will money pay for all the days you lived awake but half asleep?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

BUY THIS SHIRT!!!!!


http://sonadei.com/catalog/CVBO.php

Holy Moly!!!! Just when you thought there wasnt a way to spend your hard earned money on me, i have helped solved the problem. Together with Sonadei, we have developed a Cape Verde bicycle tshirt whose proceeds will go to help fund a bicycle project that is in the works, as been mentioend in previous blogs. Check out the link, buy at least 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 shirts and then donate even more. Also, shoot me an email if you buy a shirt or help spread the word so i know and give you a thanks.

Spread this link around, write it on paper and leave in coffee shops, engrave it on your kitchen table, whatever you have to do to help seel these shirts!!!!!

http://www.sonadei.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=86

i think this is the direct link to buy the shirt.

So buy buy buy!!!!!


Here is a news snipet from Sonadei
http://www.sonadei.com/catalog/news.php

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

2-1=1


So we’ve all heard the one about Math walking into a bar and the bartender says “Hey, Math, if you’re so smart, what’s 2-1?” At this, Math sits down, drinks a beer and says “1”. The bartender says “No stupid!!!!” After Math drinks a second beer the bartender returns and says “ Wait a second…. 1. You’re right” Ha ha ha ha ha ha. Hysterics aside, in the above mentioned equation the numbers represent years, so Two years less One Year = One Year. That’s right. I no longer have the miserable title ‘First Year Volunteer’; instead I have the honorable, distinctive, sweet smelling title ‘Second Year Volunteer’. With this promotion comes many perks and benefits including:

A new coffee mug

A free ice cream cone at Artica

Collection of my stool samples

A trip to Disneyworld

Another year in Cape Verde

And so, one year down and one year to go. What’s it all been about, where is it all going? I don’t know really. I do know that I more fully understand why the Peace Corp service is two years. Getting things, anything, done takes a long, long, long time. Hence, sometimes a project may take the entire service to actually get off the ground. With this prelude, here are some of my current, future, and made up projects I am working on

Movie night in Cachaço!!!!! That’s right kids, on the first Wednesday of each month, on the roof of the loja, using equipment from Parque Natural Monte Gordo, volunteers do Corpo da Paz, Os Amigos Unidos e Assoc. Monte Cintinha will show movies for children, youth and generally anyone who shows up and pays. The goal is to give kids a fun activity to do, and to make some money to help aid development of Cachaço.

Protected Areas status for Carberinho. Here’s one of those examples of a project taking a long time. I have written a proposal which me and another volunteer have shown and gotten signatures from the local community, I have now written a full length report about the area, and hopefully this coming month will do some field studies of the area. This is a long process to have the area protected, but it’s worth it as anyone who comes to visit will see.

Cape Verdeans in Space!!!!! Move over MIR residents, and make some room for a boiling pot of catxupa, cause coming this fall the first flight of the CVX1 Shuttle will occur. The space station and control center, all located here in the heart of São Nicolau in Cachaço will be manned and operated by local community members trained by Peace Corp volunteers, aka, Me. Scheduled for the first flight are three males, two females, and a donkey in case they need to fetch some water. All are excited about this new prospect of development for the island and for Cape Verde itself, and to quote Camara President Meca, “It is long past time for Cape Verdeans to enter the Space Race. For years now the world has been asking when we would send up our first astronauts, and today I am happy to announce that the wait is finally over.”

Bike Safety (…perhaps, depending on your stance towards helmets) A project that has already been long in the works and will be even longer in the works is a project I like to title, “Bicycle Safety and Awareness Event”, or BSAE. The BSAE is a project on my behalf here with the Camara Municpals and the Centro do Juventudes along with the support of Sonadei (www.sonadei.com), a great clothing company in America who focuses on clothing for bicyclists and bicycle advocacy. Well, they are going to be selling bicycle t-shirts to help raise funds for the BSAE, and the shirts will also be made from recycled materials with non-toxic dyes. The funds will go to purchase bicycle helmets from American Safety/ASHP (www.buyashp.com), an awesome organization helping distribute quality helmets at low cost, for bike riders here, and for bicycle repair workshops. I am still working on getting support from other bicycle organizations around the states, to help supply things like bicycle tools, bicycle tubes and patch kits. More on this as details emerge.

So there you somewhat have it. During my work for the Park, there are always little projects getting proposed, some implemented and a few done, like a health workshop for drivers and cooks on the island, or more English classes, or building tables and benches in the park. But, if I give it all away now I won’t have much to say next time.

Keep those dry nuts and dry fruit coming (meaning start sending dry nuts and dry fruit)

Ta ta

PS. If you want to help support a project I am doing, send me an email about what you are pondering, or if you have an idea in mind about something that you want to help do in Cape Verde with my or other Peace Corp assistance, again, send me an email. Also, if you happen to buy a surplus of Clif bars and can’t eat them all, feel free to send them to me,

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

I dont eat goats blood


Progress, as defined by the Oxford English dictionary, is “The forward movement of ideas, actions or thoughts towards a satisfactory or positive outcome for some, part or all of the involved participants.” Or at least that’s the definition I just made up. Either way, there is some kind of progress happening here on São Nicolau and at Monte Gordo.

One road of progression involves the Artisans who are making recycled products here at the park. While its still a slow process, sales have been made, and I have gone out to some restaurants here and sold some products and the hopes are getting to the main tourist islands and selling these products like hotcakes. As mentioned before, the two great benefits are recycling of paper and cardboard, and giving a few people a so called sustainable source of income. Soon I hope to be able to have all my avid readers be able to purchase products through our new website, which is shiny and professional. Check it out at www.ecosaonicolau.com. Or, if you have cat scratch fever and simply can not wait, send me an email and I can send you an order form for such things as recycled paper notebooks, small boxes made from banana paper or sugar cane paper, banana or sugar cane paper candle holders, recycled paper photo albums, recycled paper envelopes, among others.

Looking towards the other direction on the road of progression, we have health and safety. That’s right, if you are looking for a place to get hurt and have somewhat trained professionals helping you, then São Nicolau is the place to be. Starting this Friday, about 50 people from all walks of life will be getting health training in first aid, CPR, food preparation safety, food poisoning, etc. This is an important and good step forward.

Assuming the road of progression has yet another direction, it is looking at Carberihno. This spot, which lies along the north western coast of the island, is a rare and unique place that has been formed by the millions of years of ocean waves carving curves and designs into the exposed rock. Also, there are a multitude of birds here that you can not see anywhere else on the island. I wrote a proposal, and with the aid of a volunteer in Tarrafal, we have begun collecting signatures, and already there is tons of support, not to mention the support of the UNDP and DGA who viewed the site with me a few weeks ago.

The road of progression is a long road, at times bumpy, but hopefully the road will lead somewhere. Yup.

Things to be on the lookout for are a new and exciting bicycle project coming to São Nicolau, formation of a women’s group in Cachaço, World Biodiversity and Environment days, and other stuff.

Anywho, just ending recently was a three day festival of sorts in Cachaço celebrating Nossa Senhora de Monte Sentinha, and adding May Day, its been four days of festas here on the island. This festa is sorta the second biggest on the island and as such there were many people in town, which was certainly a site. The next big one I know of is on June 29th when they have horse races in the dried ribeira in Vila.

Till next time, ta ta

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

UPDATE

The update is that an update is coming soon. Though i suppose this update counts as an update,l so another update will be coming soon. An even better update than this one, though this one is pretty good if you ask me.

Hmmm, seems like i have alot more space to fill. What to say, what to say. Ummm, goat stomach looks really wierd inside out.

Ok, peace out my minions.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Insert funny title here

So, i wrote this about a month ago, yet it still holds true, maybe even truer now that it was than, but thats neither there nor here. anyways, this post is simply ramblings that maybe i shouldnt even post. but, its been while since i posted anything and all the projects i´m working on are still just huming along, so there isnt much new info, and i´m not too good on detiling soem of the typical life experinces which would be nice to share but require a higher level of compositional skills that I currenlty have. Entao, this post.

I had wanted to spend the whole day cataloging magic, but I ended up spending only half a day. But, here is my list of the magic I experienced during a half day here in São Nicolau:

  • The dawning sun hidden in the clouds, watching them sit, watching them brush along the mountain peaks as the morning sun grew and intensified
  • Greeting the women on thier way to the fields, yelling Bom Dias left and right and the undeicepherable replies of Nha Mai’s, Meu Deus and others
  • The candlelight glow reflecting off the pictures taped to the wall in my bedroom
  • The banana eaten on the wall watching Monte Gordo awaken and shake off the morning fog
  • Going to Hortelá along a narrow, cliff edge road
  • Giving three small children reason to stare and gawk
  • The two patonkas eaten with the family in Hortelá, and their laughter at my verbal enjoyment of the breakfast treats
  • Getting small glimpses of the lives of other people, seeing in my eyes something special and new and knowing in thier eyes something normal and everyday
  • Tearing the bark off the sugar cane with my teeth, chewing on the sweet flesh and spitting it out on the ground
  • Playing with the calico cat laying in the shade
  • Watching from a distance children having a potato sack race (and questioning on if potata really does have an e at the end) at the soccer field
  • Seeing the ocean in the distance as I write
  • The sounds and smells of the men working on repairing the wall
  • The little child who sat next to me to show me his three marbles, and then came back with a book of bible songs

A book I recenlty got sent and read, ‘Off the Map’, spoke alot about magic, about dreams and possibility, and how many things in life work to hold us back from dreaming, that tell us to dream is to be irrational, that we should accept what they say is normal and be happy, that to follow your heart and to fail or succeed is crazy....

Within my own life and those I see around me, I note that our eyes have been jaded against that which we use to behold as special, as unigue and magical when we were children. Why? What causes this lose of sight, and can we get it back? There are people I know that have regained, or at least partially, this ability, or are working towards regaining their sight. But it is rowing agaist the current, an uphill battle when everyone is saying go down, go down, go down ....

I don’t want to go down any longer. I want to climb, and fall, and get back up and climb again. Even a dream the size of an ant has strength. We have created systems of imprisonment for ourselves, and live happily behind bars, laughing and sneering at those who escape while we waste away with a life sentence.

I learned the reason why man must work and how to dream big dreams
To conquer time and space and fight the rivers and the seas
I stand here filled with my emptiness now and look at city and land
And I know why farms and cities are built by hot, warm, nervous hands

Woody Guthrie

Sorry for the lack of new pictures

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Why are peanuts so funny?

This post also could have been titled, Why is Pizza so funny? But its not. Anyways, why are peanuts and pizza oh so funny you might be asking yourself? And, Ill tell you. Suppose you find yourself on a volcanic island in the middle of the Atlantic ocean 500 miles off the western coast of Afrika…for example. Now lets also imagine you happen to be teaching English to 20 community members in the local kindergarden. You happen to be teaching about the present progressive, I am going, or He is eating… You also like to throw in new vocabulary, and sometimes words you think the students would like. Soooo, you say, Henry is eating peanuts. Normally, everyone repeats what you say. But when you say peanuts, everyone laughs. Hmmm, you say it again, everyone laughs. You ask why is everyone laughing, and no one says why. You repeat peanuts again, and again, laughter ensues. You then think to yourself, saying peanuts slowly and imaging you are Cape Verdean and it dawns on you. Peanuts, like pizza, sounds like penis. Ahhh, it is funny.

I hope you enjoyed the little comic relief. I unfortunately don’t have much updatage to speak of, but I can speak of some things. For instance, the paper recycling is going good, better than I had excepted. We have started collecting boxes of paper from Tarrafal and soon will get paper from Vila. A house has been setup for the Artists to start making paper products, and wham bam, we are in business. At least sustainable community development type business.

I recently hiked to this amazing spot along the coast, please excuse my spelling, but I think its spelled Cabeirnos. Either way, its this area where it consist of volcanic rock that has been eroded by the ocean to reveal amazing shapes and curves, smooth rock and places where its florescent green. Soooo, together with another PCV, I am going to work to get this place designated as a protected area, have a trash can and sign installed, a clean up done of the little trash that is there and some stones left over from when the Camara made steps, and hopefully the place will be a proud area of environmental beauty and stewardship for all to enjoy.

Oh, the Park is also in the steps of creating a tree sponsorship program. I think for about 10€, that’s 10 euros, you can sponsor the reforestation efforts of the park and the island by adopting an endemic plant, like Tortolho, or a Dragiero tree, etc etc. So if you already know you simply can not live without forking over some money to help a poor little old island, get your check books, or credit cards, handy. If you know of environmentally minded people out there, or any organizations or clubs that are looking for the perfect Earth Day gift for a loved one, well, what can be better than sponsoring a tree in a third world Afrikan island country.

There are other little projects going on at the park, and maybe one or two outside the realm of the park, but nothing is set in stone. Hence, I shant burden you with them until they possibly reach fruition. The weather has turned warm again, we had a chilly spell for about a week, and now it’s a warm spell probably for another week. The weather seems to come in waves.

There is a chance I will head to Mindelo, on Sao Vicente, later in the month. There is a theater thingy going on there, not really sure about the details, but I want to check out Mindelo, so why not. Otherwise, looking to do more hiking, and hopefully will head out to the eastern shores one of these days, maybe for Easter. Till next time, ta ta.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Mali: Episode VI - Return of the PCV´s



When we last left, we had spent a chilly night on the top of a roof in Timbuktoo. Well, lets us be on our way now to Essakane, about 60 miles norht of Timbuktoo, it is on the very last outskirts of scrub land before the vastness of the Sahara desert takes over. Regardless, most of the driving is through desert sands, which are extremely silky soft sand that makes drving fast and reckless, based on how our driver drove.

Anyway, we spent two nights three days sleeping in a traditional animal skin open tent on the sand. There were a few thousand people there, alot of international people, but moslty Malians and venders selling alot of art stuff. Amazingly, no matter who you went up to, they all had a good price, and sometimes there name was Mr Good Price. I met alot of Mr Good Prices in my travels. Anywho, there was music only at night, abd during the day with the sun blazing, people either slept or wandered around the festival sands, either looking at wares to buy, seeing the random music and dancing, or talking to a guy who is mkaing efficent stoves for refugess using recycling packaginig material.

We left the festival early on the third day so we could be on our way back to Mopti. We covered all the same bumpy, dusty, silky smooth terrain we had on the way there, and again it took us about 12 hours this time to return. In Timbuktoo we got a flat and waited 30 minutes to fix it, at one of the checkpoints where the army checks papers, we waited 30 minutes. All in all, we got back to Mopti, crashed on the dingy floor we had slept on last time in town, and planned to be on our way to Dogon Country, or Pays Dogon in french, in the morning.

And so it happened. We left Mopti and made our way to Bandgira, which is the captical of the area. From there, we took a different car into the Dogon area and then started hiking. I dont have my notes in front of me, but we hiked to four different towns. The first was on the top of the escarpment. Oh, the Dogon country is bascially a huge escarpment with the majority of villages at the bottom of the escarpment. If you dont know what an escarpment is, i suggest a google search. Anywho, form the first village we hiked down, at first through a nice green tree area, and then on the bottom it opens out as the area had once been forested with wild animals and water, but when the Dogon came to the area, they forced the natives, the Tellem, into the upper areas, cut down the trees, killed the animals, and lo, now there are no animals, limited trees, and no major running water. There is some irrigation going on and therefore there are awesome islands of waving green onion tops, as the Dogon love there onion. Anywho...

We went to the next village, simlar in some aspects as the houses are all mud with wooden supports. There are graneries for men and women for each household. Some Dogon are still Animist while others are Muslim. The women make millet beer, sell it to the men, and make some money. Not many people drink. The millter beer wasnt bad, but wasnt a Brooklyn Dark if you know what i mean.

From this town we took an ox driven cart to the next. An ox driven cart sounds all nice and safe, but at times we almost fell off, and the driver kept whipping the ox as he liked to walk at this pace, which the driver did not seem to like. Regardless, we got to our last village, ate some rice wiht tomato sauce, i really like the tomatao sauce, and slept inside for once in a nice mud room. For a little while, i stayed on the roof as it was warm and the stars are bright and nice.

The enxt day, it was back to Mopti and then on to Seqou, where we spent two kinda lazy days, in this kinda lazy quiet town. Much different than Mopti, no major water ports, people arent trying to sell you lots of things, just a ncie quiet little place. We saw amazing music at night in a bar, it was all traditional with three types of Malian drums and a large wooden xylophone, with calabashes underneath to make the sound. The guy playing was phenominal, he played so fast you couldnt see his hands, then he picked up the djemebe and played super fast too. It was great, people were up and dancing all over the place, and i had a few of the queens of beers in the prcoess.

We finally made our way back to Bamako, and back to the Mission Catholque where i slept outside on the couch, once without mosiquite net which was a mistake and the second night with. Bamako is a bustling capital, mcuh different from Praia, and from what i am told much different from other afrikan captials. It was safe, croweded all over the palce with cars and people and vendors and people cooking and people selling dried monkey heads and peanuts and all types of stuff. never ending movement, it was greta and a bit overwhelming at the same time. We spent alot of time at our faviroit hangout across form the Mission, Mohameds vegetarian resturant. good food, good guy, and good kitten.

And so, we headed back to Cape Verde, spent five days in Praia thanks to the wonderfulness of TACV, and eventually i settled back in Sao Nicolau and got my creole back.

I ruchsed this a bit as i wanted to finish up this Mali adventure. Watch out for the next installment on this blog entitled `Why are peanuts so funny?

Friday, February 15, 2008

An R comes to Afrika

Gonna take a quick break from Mali and give a quick update about whats going on here in chilly Cachaço. For effect, i have choosen to use an ancient system of summarizing important compenets of a docuement or conversation first perfected by the Tellem, an ancient race of pygmy red skinned people reported to have been one of the lost tribes of Israel, but i digress. And so:

  • Recycling comes to Sao Nicolau!!!! kinda of. For the past few weeks, a formacao has been going on teaching about 10 studetns the art of making new paper form old paper (aka: recycling). They have mastered this skill are are pumping out some awesome hamdmade crafts. In the upcoming month, we will be senidng out samples to various locals around cape verde to see what the interest is in carrying these goods, and also look to setup a house in Cachaço for them to come and create. Not only does this create sustainable development in communties (in line wiht Peace Corp and the Park goals), but means that they need a whole lot fo scrap paper. Sooooooooooo..... paper collection will begin in the main towns and hopefulyl spread island wide. Eco Clubs in these towns will help montior and collect and somehow bring the paper up to Cachaço, but those are only details. Once we have products up I expect, nay, demand that everyone buy some.
  • English classes come to the masses!!!!! On Tuesday we began giving englihs classes (or our best effort at them) to peoples of Cachaço, Lompelado, and Cabacilino, our neighboring communties. Classes are two hours with a little break in the middle, people are liking them so far. Its fun to have lots of people repeat everything you say, its fun to learn the names of people you should ahve already known thier names of, its fun to get covered in chalk, its fun to get the keys to the school from the teacher and forget to give them back untill the next day...all in all, they are so far fun, a bit of work as i already work all day in the park, but is more than worth it.
I planned on more bullet points but im a bit tired of writing about whats going on, sorry to those who follow this blog religously. i´ll update again soon, maybe about Mali too.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Mali Part 3: The search for part two



So, the Japenese. They helped us get inot Djenne, and we eventually made our way to a freezing cold roof. Seems alot of toher people had the idea of coming to Djenne the night before a really big market day. Huh. Anywho, instead of sleeping on the roof, we went and slept on the floor of the kitchen area where it was much warmer.

We had sorta arranged a guide, Guru, supposedly the son of the cheif, and he took us on a two hour walking tour of Djenne. All the strucutres are made of mud with wooden planks as support. There a three different styles, depending on the time and momey you have. Also, on the top of house, they put these little bumps to indicate the number of children they have. not sure why. But the reason we came to Djenne was for the market, which was colorful, flavorfuly, noiseful, and wonderful, and for the largest mud strcutre in the world, the grand mosque. And the mosque is huge. it crakcs from the sun and drynes each year, and everyone from the village helps each year to put more mud on it for repairs. children take Quran classes where they leanr verses in arabic one at a time, on these wooden little planks, and when they learn it, they wash off the writting and move on to the enxt one. these schools are free i think for all kids. Anywho, we walked around the entire day, ate spagetti out of plastic bags, had mushy red bread which rocked, mushy fried rice cakes which rocked, balled up peanut butter, etc etc. It was a really nice place, and while everything was brown, it still seemed colorful and alive.

The enxt day we were off with some frech canadians and our new guiide, Phillip, to Mopti. It was aonly about a three hour ride in a station wagon, and when we got to Mopti, they even had an atm that didnt work. Twas sweet. Mopti was our staging area for our drive to Timbuktoo the enxt day. In Mopti, we walked around the very busy, colroful, smelly port, where traders in boats bring, sell, buy, transport, etc all types of goods, food, calabashes, and other thigns. They also make the boats here. Across the river form the buys city are the sleepy fishing bozo vollages who dont want to take part in the city at all, and hence are traditinal villages. They might come once a week to trade some goods, but they live thier life.

Had dinner on the street in Mopti, potatoes, spagettie, and unfortunalty rice with what seemed to be only fish bones. I threw some very wierd green, thick, woody sauce on it all, and well, not the ebst dinner i had in Mali. Anywho, we were up and out early the next day as the drive to Timbuktoo was estimated to be about 10 hours.

And it took that long. First, you drive to the town on the amin road, Douenza, and we swtiched to a hardcore 4x4 car. And ate the ebst spegettie wiht tomatato suace in the world there. Anywho, then it wa sa bumby, dusty, bumby long drive on dirt, broken roads, sometimes just sand, to get to the river crossing. This normally takes 8 hours to get too, but our driver drove on the fast side, and we hit it, and our heads many times, in four hours. of course, since we were heading here to make our way to the Festival in the Desert and so was everyone else, when we got ot the ferry, there were over a 100 4x4´s waiting. and one of the ferries had broken down. so there was one ferry taking about 10 cars, and each trip took two hours. so we waited, and waited, and waited another 4-5 hours. finally made our way into Timbuktoo about 12 hours after leaving Mopti. And we slpet on the cold roof in Timbuktoo. and the bathroom was the goat house. which was kinda cool, till all the cockroached came crawling out.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Mali: Part 1 of I'm not sure how many parts


I'm back.. sort of. I am stuck in Praia now for almost a week because there is no boat and the flight we tried to take this morning to Sao Nicolao had one spot and neither of us (when i say 'us' i refer to myself and the girl from Sao Nicolao i went to Mali with) was willing to back down from wanting that lone seat, and so, we sit here for a few more days till we can finally head back home.

But, you didn't come here to hear about the transportation woes of Cape Verde, you want to hear about Mali. What can i say, the culture of Mali is a mixed culture form the 12 different tribes that currently inhabit the land, with the Bambara, Bozo, and Taureg being the main peoples. With that culture, comes music, comes art, comes a sense of unity with their past, etc, etc.

The trip starting by befriending some French people in Cape Verde. We were flying to Dakar and had to stay the night, and we had the name of a place that was outside of Dakar. We asked a few people how to say this or that in French, and then I went over to those two younger people and talked to them about how to ask for vegetarian food and stuff. Well, we started talking and then their friends they meet in CV came over and ended up offering us a place to say in their flat in Dakar... and they spoke french. Soooooooooo, we stayed with these people in Dakar, they helped us get a taxi back to the airport the next day and we were off to Bamako. At least after the two hour delay.

Arriving in Bamako, we realized we still couldn't speak french. And we didn't have visas to get in. As PCV's, we were kinda hoping to slip on through, play the Peace Corp card, but it didn't work, so we had to buy visas' Then after some 'negotiating', we got a taxi to the Mission Catholique. All catholic missions generally accept travellers to stay so long as they have room and do not have visiting clergy there. some are more run for travelers while others are not. Where we went was more for travelers. Anywho, we got there around 11pm, the Sister let us in only after a Malian guy who spoke English alerted us to the fact that he has a restaurant across the street and he serves vegetarian food. interesting. We ended up just getting a grande Castel, and then spelt. during our beer drinking, we spoke with some guy who insisted that we head to Djenne on Sunday so we could be there for the market on Monday. So that's what we did. Got up, and went to one of if not the most insane bus station i have ever been to. People were everywhere, stalls, food, noises, colors, when the taxi pulled into the area guys ran alongside the car yelling things, twas crazy. The taxi dropped us off at the bus, we got our tickets....and then waited for over two hours. and we had to pay extra for our bags, or perhaps because we are white. not sure. Anywho, we finally left and about 10 minutes later we were stopped again for about 20 minutes as the bus had already broken down. This would end up being one of MANY stops. There are checkpoints of sorts all over, where soldiers pretty much make drivers pay them to let them continue along, there are speed bumps in lots of places, where little villages have been set up and the bus will stop and people will start hawking their goods, mostly food. Sometimes they came on the bus, yelling whatever they were yelling, sometimes they'd run along the bus knocking on the widows. If you even looked at the item, it was assumed you wanted one and most likely many as anyone selling the item then came to you to buy it. They sold papaya in bags, peanuts, muffin things, water in bags, water in bottles, juices in bags, yams, eggs, fish, dried and on bread, bananas, and other such items. While sometimes you didn't want to stop and wait, when you did want something it was oh so nice to simply have someone come to you on the bus and sell it to you.

We eventually made it to djenne, at midnight after a 10 or more hour bus ride. Thing about the bus dropping you off at Djenne is that it doesn't, it drops you off on the main road about 10km or more away from Djenne. This was not part of our general knowledge at the time. So when we stepped off the bus, in the pitch black, we weren't quite sure what to do. Thankfully there were some Japanese around.

.....To Be Continued....