Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Almost Got It

It should be noted that in Cape Verdian culture, it is COMPLETELY appropriate to pick one's nose at the dinner table, during a conversation or, as it happens, when people are taking your picture.

Leo's Phot of Me

So my Ma said that I need to put more pics of me on here, so yesterday I spent an hour teaching 5 year old Leo how to use my Nikon. Here is the result of that hour. Not too bad!

Baby Gisella

Here is a pic of Gisella's baby Gisella, now about 2 weeks old. Since I can't take pics or Darby (that's my niece), I'm having to borrow other people's babies.

Leo again

This is the face he made when I told him I didn't have any more gum.

The Chinese Monoply on Crap

The Chinese Monopoly on Crap

The following may be mildly offensive to some readers, so I’ll apologize in advance, but explain that these are economically, not racially motivated statements. They are also subject to my understanding of the situation, which, given my language ability, could be way off the mark. Also, as it says in the disclaimer, the opinions expressed herein are those of the author and in no way reflect or represent the views of the Peace Corps, or the United States government.

So the Chinese have a monopoly on crap in Cape Verde. I am convinced that the Chinese are bent on World Domination, and they are starting with Cape Verde, West Africa. Let me explain.

In its infancy, the Cape Verdian government realized that people in the scattered and remote villages of the islands were literally starved for basic goods and sundries; if they couldn’t make it, they couldn’t get it. Things that all of us take for granted. Pots, bowls, pencils and pens, forks, pitchers, clothes, bed sheets, shoes, mops brooms and buckets, toys, metal shelves and charming white plastic furniture. Later on, as the country began to develop and (relatively) reliable electricity made its way to the interior of most of the islands, people began to want for small appliances like fans, grills, radios, televisions etc. Essentially the problem was that there was nothing to buy and nowhere to buy it in the country.

Desperate for a solution, the Cape Verdian government turned to the Chinese, and a deal was struck. Out of this bargain, the Chinese got an unfettered, unregulated, untaxed market for their goods, and Cape Verde got a lot of Chinese crap. Every city, every town, and every village has At Least one Chinese “loja” (store) where they sell…well, pretty much everything you can imagine. The stores are ALL owned and operated by Chinese merchants. They pay no import duties to get the crap here, and (subject to my understanding of the situation) neither collect nor pay taxes to the Cape Verdian government. (It is also my understanding that a Cape Verdian wishing to own and operate a store WOULD have to pay taxes.) These stores are all staffed by two or three Chinese citizens in a sort of indentured servitude system. It is my understanding that family members draw straws for who has to go live in Cape Verde, and the losers move to Cape Verde and operate the stores for four or five years, and then move back and make someone else draw straws. These merchants completely separate and segregate themselves from Cape Verdians and Cape Verdian culture, almost without exception. Typically, all the Chinese in a particular “zona” (area) will live in the same building, if not the same apartment. They typically keep to themselves and walk in groups, speak little or no Portuguese or Kriolu, and are only seen during business hours. And I know its bad to make generalizations, but I’ll make one here…Their contempt for Cape Verdians (and tourists and white people for that matter) is written all over their faces. It seems that they resent having to be here, and every person that walks into their store is a reminder of their “sentence.” It is not uncommon for them to yell at customers.

Another weird thing is that Every Single store carries EXACTLY the same goods as the one right across the street. I asked about it and was told (I think) that the Chinese government, after choosing the worst quality products possible, ships everything imaginable to a huge warehouse in the capitol city of Praia. As shelf space becomes available in the lojas all across Cape Verde, the loja owners all call the warehouse and request goods that be sent. Thus, all the stores are selling the exact same white metal shelf for 1700$00 CVE, the exact same pink plastic fan, etc. And I’m talking stuff that wouldn’t make it to the Dollar Store in the States. (Examples: A “ventuinha” (fan) I bought for 3200$00 CVE literally exploded and caught fire after a month of use; a 1500$00 CVE frying pan had a whole burned right through it in less than two weeks; a white metal “estante” (shelf) arrived missing one leg and most of the screws necessary to assemble it.) There is, as you might imagine, no such thing as a Returns Department. This is definitely a No Exchanges, No Refunds, You Break It You Buy It style market. There is however, no alternative. The Chinese lojas are the ONLY place you can get Things in most areas of Cape Verde.

And this is to say nothing of the blatant knock-offery going on around here. You can get clothes adorned with the labels of Nike, Jordache, Levi’s, Addidas, Puma, Timberland and Izod (most of which are highly flammable as it turns out). Everything unravels or falls apart. There are TVs, DVD players and stereos ostensibly made by Sony, Panasonic and Pioneer and all should come with a DANGER: EXPLOSIVE warning on them.

Of course, the Cape Verdians do get something out of it. Ships bringing Chinese goods…ships that weren’t coming here before this deal with the Chinese…are carrying other products as well (Toyota trucks and vans for example) and ship traffic means commerce, means money, means jobs, for Cape Verde. They have ample access to goods, whatever the quality, as there are stores in EVERY village that I’ve seen. Cape Verdian truckers and drivers are also the ones who transport the goods from place to place. Lojas typically hire a few Cape Verdian teenagers to assist customers and tell the prices.

Without a doubt, the Chinese are serving a need and providing a valuable service to Cape Verde, and I’d be eating off the kitchen floor if it weren’t for them. I think all this bitching is mostly just because my $35 fan exploded in my room the other night and gave me a heart attack. But it’s something more too.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

What a Haul!

So here is what the guys from Cruzinha caught when we went fishing recently, and I am debating telling all of you a story about this day, and this catch.

Lunch and Dinner

Went fishing recently and this is what we hauled in. That's a Moray eel, which I'll be frying up for lunch, and Red Grouper, which I'll be freezing and saving for a special occassion...its REAL tasty and hard to get.

Guy with a REAL cute bird

This guy was just wlaking around town yesterday. With this bird.

Another Booklist Update

So I've had a few more kind souls pledge to send me books. (Thank you Pat!!!) so the list has thinned out a little more. Anyway, if anyone is interested, its safe to send me anything still on the list below) ;-)

Heart Shaped Box (can't remember the auther, but its a scary book)
The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears by Dinaw Mengetsu
Tree of Smoke by Dennis Johnson
The Inheritence of Loss by Kiran Desai
Not That You Asked by Steve Almond

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Mountains Above Chan di Igreja

Casa Tourista

Here is a picture of a newish tourist house that a guy from France built. Everything you see here, including the land, was bought for less than 120,000 Euros. Anywone want me to start looking around for land for them?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Guarda Cabesa...and DANCING!!

Gurada Cabesa!

So I was invited to a Guarda Cabesa festival last week. I brought caiperinhas. Hilarity, hijinx, dancing and grilled meats ensued.

Cultural Background: Guarda Cabesa doesn’t translate literally into English very well (it means “Save the Head”), but it’s a process and festa (party) celebrating the birth (and survival) of a baby. In the years preceding Cape Verdian independence (in 1975 if you can believe that), health care in general, and infant mortality rates in particular, were terrible. Awful. Somewhere near 40% according to some statistics. If you ask anyone over the age of 40 here, they will all tell you that they had a brother or sister that died. As such, a cultural norm known as the guarda cabesa, and culminating festa, developed. Basically, for the first 7 days after the birth of a baby, nobody goes to visit the mom and baby, they don’t come out of the house, and they don’t poi nom (give a name). If the baby survives until the 7th day, the family starts breathing a little easier, and announces the festa, where everyone comes to see the baby and brings special gifts of food and drink that will help the mom and baby get big and strong (high fat cow milk, goat butter, cheese, etc.) and the mom ta poi nom (names the baby). Although it’s not adhered to as strictly these days (I think Cape Verde now has the best infant mortality rates in West Africa), the festa part of the guarda cabesa still happens.

Anyway, my friend Gisella finally had her little girl, and a few nights ago we had the guarda cabesa festival. It was held at Gisella’s house, which is a spotless, quaint, 2 room cinderblock structure about 10 meters by 10 meters, with concrete floors. One room is for the baby and mom, and the other room doubles as a salon (living room) and bedroom for her sister. (The father of the baby lives on another island.) They have a wood-fired “kitchen” out back. So anyway, they tava’t ranja (procured) some chicken and fish and some wood and fired up the grill at about 12:30am last Saturday (everything starts late here), and in addition to the special stuff for the baby and mom, people brought a few bottles of wine, some grog and paunche, some popcorn for snacks, and most importantly, a stereo and extension cord. Everyone went in to see the baby (who was dressed in a little white and pink christening-type gown) and congratulate the mom, then immediately hit the dancefloor (the salon room) where they stayed until well into the next day. People in Cape Verde, definitely love their festas.

Dancing here is REAL fun. For dancing to zook music, it’s essentially the Texas Two-Step, except instead of moving your feet 1-2, 1-2, you move your hips 1-2, 1-2 (that is to say, you roll/grind your hips into the other person) except your shoulders stay perfectly still. It takes some practice (yay!) but my extensive dance training in the States has given me a good head start. ;-) And from a cultural anthropology standpoint, dancing here is very different. In America, you can always get away with being a wallflower, or say no when someone asks you, or just admit that you have no rhythm and would be a fool to dance in front of others. Over here, that dog just won’t hunt. They could care less what you look like when you’re dancing, and honestly, everyone is so busy grinding around on each other that nobody is paying much attention. But if you aren’t dancing, EVERYONE will notice and everyone will think you are being rude. (Its just like when you don’t greet someone on the street.) If someone asks you to dance, and you say no?...well you just might as well go on and spit on them. I don’t know if that’s true all over Cape Verde, but I assure you, it’s true in the is village.

Anyway, I had my camera with me, and here are some pics.

Suzy, Benvinda and Baby Gisella

So for those of you that asked about Benvinda, she's the one on the right holding the baby.

Gisella and Baby (Also named Gisella)

My Friends Duke and Sabino

Festa Dancing!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Guitar String S.O.S.!!!

So I just thought I'd put this out there for anyone who might happen to be reading...I could REALLY use some guitar strings. In my town, the easiest, quickest, best way to make friends and learn the language is for me to go to the plaza in the evenings with my guitar and sit down and start playing. Within minutes, more guitars start coming out of the woodwork and before long, there'll be a whole passel of folks all gathered around for a tokatinha (jam session). Anyway, I brought 2 extra string sets with me from home, but ran through the first one during training, and the second set is already on its last legs. (There is a LOT of guitar playing going on around here.) You'd think that with all this guitar playing going on, there's be someplace or someone that sells strings here right? As far as getting strings here in Cape Verde...I've asked everyone I know and checked EVERYWHERE on this island, and they are not to be found. The closest place to get them (according to everyone) is in Mindelo, on the next island over, and I've been told that they're very expensive (more than in the states) and of a very poor quality.

Anyway, if anyone wants to take pity on me, head down to your local guitar or instrument store and ask for "a pack of Bright (or Phosphour) Bronzed, Medium Guage, acoustic guitar strings." They range anywhere from $6 to $20, but I always get something in the $12 range. At most places, strings are 2 for 1 deals, so $12 actually gets you 2 sets of strings. K, just thought I'd throw that out there.

Hope Everyone Is Well and Taking Good Care of Each Other.

Monday, October 22, 2007

No Water....Wha?!?!?

No Water…Wha?!?!

So after returning home last week from Cruzinha and a long day spent fondling turtles, handling fish, painting boats and being dusty, stinky, sandy, sweaty and all over dirty, I tossed my clothes into the hamper and made my way to the casa di bano (bathroom) to get clean in a nice cold shower. I stepped in the tub, pulled the shower curtain and finally turned the valve to start the water. Nothing. Not even a drip.

Turns out that I need to check this big concrete tank every day to see if I have water, and when it gets real low, I have to arrange for some rain/run-off water to be diverted (via a series of little canals) from la d’cima (way the hell up top of the mountain) to my house. Apparently there is a schedule for which days I’m able to do that. Apparently there is also a schedule for the guy who is able to do this water diverting. Unfortunately, those schedules coincide about as often as the perfect alignment of Jupiter and Pluto and Uranus. (By the way, Pluto is not actually a planet anymore.)

As such, I spent much of the last week peeing off the roof (so as not to have to flush), eating at the neighbors’ houses (so as not to have to do dishes), not shaving (so as not to have to shave), and “showering” by standing in a small bucket of water (which I hauled in from a lady across the street) and awkwardly trying to splash myself. I bought bottled water to drink. It all sounds worse than it actually was. Mostly I do not smell very good, and am covered in a pretty gross filmy substance manufactured by my own self. All is well agrinhasin (right now) though, as the planets have aligned and the two uncoordinated schedules managed to cross paths the other day, and the guy, and the water were both available. Today my tank is lovely with the sound of the water as it slowly fills. Looking forward to getting clean again.

Lastly, for your enjoyment, here are some (older) random pictures of me jumping off a real big rock wall, some kids from my town after school the other day, and one of the Peace Corps nurse, dressed as Captain Condom (“You Never See Him Coming!”), as she explained to proper installation, use, and disposal of prophylactic devices.

Jumping Off a REAL Big Rock

Captain Condom

Kids After School

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


As Promised to Mrs. Christopher

So Mrs. Christopher, as a show of thanks for sending me some Bar-B-Q Sause, here are a couple of photos of your son. One is of him at the waterfall in Ribeira de Barka during training, and the other is of him on the beach near my village, doing what he is almost always doing, which is reading. (and if anyone is wondering why I never refer to other volunteers by name, its because its more or less a peace corps rule.

Subi Rocha (Mountain Climb)

Subi Rocha!

So Saturday night I went to a fancy function at a touristy hotel just outside Coculi with a few volunteers who live there. Coculi is 2 ribeiras (valleys) over from me, which means two rochas (mountains) over as well. The function (there was a fancy dinner, a band from Sao Vicent, and then some mostly naked models that were modeling the clothes of some fashion designer from Sao Vicente!) didn’t start until 8, and since there are no cars to my village after meiadia (midday) I had to spend the night in Coculi. Well there are also no cars to my zona (village) on Sunday, so rather than spend 2 nights away from home and wait for the Monday car, I decided it would be a good chance to do some hiking, and resolved to walk home to Cha di Igreja early Sunday morning.

After a long night of tossing and turning in the spare bed at the Coculi PC house, I was blissfully, finally asleep sometime around 4am. 7 am rolls around and a piercing, clanging noise has ripped me from my dreamstate. Jumping out of the bed into a fighting stance, I shake the fog from my head to figure out just what in THE HELL IS THAT NOISE??!! It is, of course, the blistering, impossibly loud and resonant sounds of the Coculi church bells, conveniently located approximately 20 horizontal feet from my head. I peer out the window and see a man in the belfry, maniacally striking the clapper with an evil look of delight on his face. He seems to be thinking “Let’s See You Sleep Through THIS! Approximately 10 agonizing minutes later, I’ve gone partially deaf and The Hunchback has apparently decided everyone in town is awake now and dressing for church, and the ringing stops. I think about trying to go back to sleep for about 5 seconds, and then I jump out of my skin again, as The Hunchback gets in one good, solid, last lick, somehow louder than all those that came before it. (“And take THIS ONE for good measure!”) Anyway, sleep’s a distant memory so I’m up and making coffee and soon the volunteers that live in Coculi are up and in the kitchen and having a good laugh asking me how I like the Sunday Bells, and I tell them I won’t be crashing here on Saturday nights anymore.

Minutes later I’m off on my adventure Over the Mountain to Cha di Igreja. For an hour from Coculi, I walk up and along the modestly inclined ribeira and past the village of Boca before veering North and beginning the climb in earnest. 3 hours and a lot of cussing, coughing and blaspheming later, I arrive at the first peak. Along the way are impossibly beautiful views of lush and fertile valleys and tiny toy houses and in the distance, jaw-dropping cliff-edges (the guide book says over 1000m at some points) with shockingly non-existent walls or barriers, the enormity of the perfectly perpendicular, un-sloped mountain walls, and a blustery, bullying wind at the top. By the time I reach the second crux, despite the day’s cool temperature, I have sweat through my shirt and shorts and am panting like a black dog on a summer day in Texas. I am rewarded for my efforts though, by an unrivaled view of Cha di Igreja from atop the mountain. WAY off in the distance, my little hamlet appears, nestled into the greater valley, but perched precariously atop a 150m sandstone cliff (how did I never notice that before!?), the massive ocean looming behind it. It looks like a model of a town. I can reach out and pick up the church and the school and hold them in my hand like Monopoly pieces. I Can’t Believe I Live There.

Anyway, I rest and snack and hydrate and smoke a cigarette (sorry mom!) and then a little panic and delirium mingles with my sense of accomplishment as I realize that walking down steep things is often harder on the knees and legs than walking up them. I am proved correct on this point, but arrive safely on my doorstep a little over an hour later. A walk I’ll definitely do again, only with a longer camera lens. Pics are around here somewhere. Keep in mind that if you wanna follow along with the walk, look at the last picture first and the first picture last. If that makes any sense.

Cha di Igreja (Bird's Eye View)

Down from the peak a little ways, Cha di Igreja comes into view. I can't believe I live here.

Spooky Crux

So here is a picture of the 2nd peak. If you look closely at the center of the rock you may be able to see the wooden cross and the red rose that some someone had placed on it. To the right side of the rock is Ribeira de Boca and Coculi, where I walked from, and on the left, at the bottom of the mountain, is Cha di Igreja. I think you can see the ocean in the top left. On a clear day (this was clearly not one of them) I'm prety sure you'd be able to see much of both valleys laid out before you on both sides. It was REALLY windy up here...and beautiful.


So hopefully in this pic you can get a feeling for exactly how steep it is around here. The rocks in the foreground are at my feet, and the tiny house is about 3/4 of the way down the mountain. I had to point my bamera almost at my feet to get the house in, its so steep.


Here is a tighter shot of a typical path on this island. I'm not sure if you can tell how steep it is, but the switchbacks should give you a clue. Keep in mind that kids walk these every day to school, families walk them every day to go to town, to church, to the market. One more reason why there are no overweight people in this entire country.

Towards Coculi

This is a view from about an hour and half into the climb. This is taken looking behind me towards Coculi, where I started out.

Ribeira de Boca

This is the view from about 45 miunutes into the climb.


This was built in 1957 by the Portuguese to carry water from one side of the ribeira to the other, and is still in use today.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Fighting Fish

Paint Job

Fancy Fish

Toytle (A Big One!!)

Toytle!! (A Big One)

So I went to Cruzinha yesterday in search of a functioning fax machine (there is a rumor that they have one there) to send a project proposal to PC, and those folks in matching white T-shirts were at it again. This time, a big mama turtle came to Cruzinha to lay her eggs, and they measured her and microchipped her and sent her on her way. While we were there, another bunch of little turtle bastards from some other mother hatched, and made their way to the ocean as well. Although my language skills are coming along nicely, I’m still not sure about this, but I think they told me that all these new eggs from the mama turtle are going to die, because she arrived late in the season and for the next 2 months, most of this particular beach is going to be covered by the ocean, and the eggs will drown. As such, tomorrow and the next day, I’m going to be helping them build an incubator? (I confess that my only qualifications for this are some distant and foggy memories of a sixth grade science project wherein I put a lightbulb in a shoebox or some such thing.) They’re thinking that maybe they can care for the eggs in this incubator in town until they hatch, and then set’m all loose. Cross your fingers.

While I was there I also went fishing and caught some humongous Juaque Custeau lookin’ fish. Also, I helped paint a boat. Here are some pics.

Also, my sincere thanks to the mother of another volunteer, who saw my Bar-B-Q sauce S.O.S. and has sent some along in a care package to her son. Thank you! If you happen to be reading this, check back next week and I'll put up a couple of pictures I took of your son during training. Daron happens to be the next closest volunteer to me, I see him in town once every couple of weeks or so, and he’s doing well.

Layin' Some Eggs

Headin' for the Ocean

Big Mama Toytle

Friday, October 5, 2007

My 5th and 6th grade class

My 3rd and 4th grade class

Billy Madison...redux

So it occurred to me that the best way to learn Portuguese is probably to learn it in school, and it turns out there is a school in my little village, where they just happen to be teaching Portuguese to the kids. (Although everyone speaks Kriolu at home, in the streets, amongst friends etc., it is a spoken language only. The Cape Verdian government is debating an official alphabet for Kriolu, but it is likely years away from happening for various reasons. The semi-official language of the county is Portuguese...the news, all writtten documnents, radio and television, and the language of the classroom is strictly Portuguese, so kids have to learn it. This is one of the challenges facing the country as it tries to develop, as Kriolu was the language of the slaves, and Portuguese the language of the such, there is a biased against Portuguese, and a resistance to use it if you donºt have to.) Anyway, I went down to the school in Cha to introduce myself, and while I was there I asked the teacher if I could start coming to class with the kids to help me learn Portuguese. She said of course, and has actually even arranged a schedule for me. I can go to the 4th and 5th grade classes from 8 to 9, and the 5th and 6th grade classes from 9 to 10 (they have to share rooms, so there are 2 grade levels in each classroom), thereby getting me 2 hours of Portuguese instruction, practice and homework every day. They are starting out with simple vocab and sentence strucuture etc., and its perfect for my learning level. Anyway, it´s just like that movie Billy Madison, with the grown up sitting in the back of the classroom at the tiny tables with the munchkins, and although I thought I´d never have to go to school for anything again, Iºm actually enjoying every day, and so are my classmates,..I think.

At the soccer game


So here is a pic of Gisella, who will have her baby "qualquier dia", which means, any day now, as ou can prolly tell from the picture



Nose Bleed Seats

So the soccer field is down at the bottom of the ribeira from town, but if you donºt want to walk all the way down, you can sit in the nose bleed seats. Here is a pic of the view from there.

The Gym, New Frineds, and the caiperinha

The Gym, New Friends, and the caiperinha.

So my town keeps getting better and better, as I’m now a charter member, actually the only member, of the Cha di Igreja Gymnasio. Djon, my friend and neighbor, was in the states for a couple months working as a painter, and the one thing he bought and brought back with him was a work-out set and some free weights. He gave me the key to the joint last week, and I’ve been using it every day since. This thing probably cost less than $200 back in the states and it’s got everything. You can do cable pulls, leg extensions, bench press and all the transitions from that, curls, squats, military press, etc. He’s also cemented a pull-up bar into the corner of one room, and a triceps station in the other. He’s also got a rack rigged for dips, and those torturous elevated hand grips for push ups…no thank you. He’s also fashioned some heavy bars by pouring rocks and cement into plastic buckets and connecting them with cut-outs from pipe…they’re even painted cornflower blue to match the door of the “gym.” There are even some very lovely naked Chinese and Brazilian women taped on the walls for motivational purposes. All of this is tucked away in a tiny traditional-style thatched-roof hut across the plaza from me. It’s dark and hot and sweaty in there, and it is definitely my kind of gym. (And since it’s free, it’s also MUCH cheaper than the gym at the old law firm.) Anyway, all of the equipment is old but in great shape, there are very few mirrors, and I’ve got the place all to myself. I’ve been going with my MP3 player once, sometimes twice a day, for about 45 minutes, and getting exhausted. I gotta tell ya, it feels good. Between the hiking and the swimming in the ocean and the cooking for myself, and going to the “gym,” I’ve managed to lose a couple kilos (they use the very efficient and easy to understand metric system here…and now that I understand it, I wish we did in the States as well) and I’m all tanned and trimming out and feeling healthy and energized, despite the slow pace of life here.

In other news, last night I had dinner tonight with some new friends, Gisele, Gylda, and Benvinda. All of them gorgeous and two of them 9 months pregnant. As an aside: The question of the week for me, from EVERYONE in town, has been “Bo ta ranja enomorada o pequena lina Chan di Igreja inda?” (Have you arranged a lover or girlfriend here in Cha di Igreja yet?” When I say “Inda nao” (not yet), the most common response is “Modqui?!? M’titebe adjudob. Bo ta kuntse-l nhe amiga _____ inda?” (Why in the hell not?!? I’m going to help you. Have you met my friend _____ yet?) Anyway, I think that was the purpose of the dinner tonight, as Benvinda is in the market for a man, and she and I were told repeatedly what a naiss (nice) couple we make. (And for the record, I am in total agreement on that point.) Anyway, we had baked sweet potato, baked English potato, curried rice, grilled bananas, coiva (think…spinach meets lettuce, but on acid and steroids), and some sort of shredded meat-like substance. I decided not to inquire as to its origins. For desert we had pudeen (it’s exactly flan, for those of you reading in Texas). All of it was delicious. Benvinda (which means “Welcome” by the way…) was beautiful and intelligent and delightful and charming, so there must be something wrong with her if she’s single. After, we played Bischka (a really fun card game), and I had a beer. I excused myself at about 2045 (here they use what we call “military time” at home, so 2045 = 8:45PM), as anything later than that and the town will start gossiping. Came home, made myself a caiperinha (this is the Cape Verdian equivalent of a Margarita, and is a VERY delicious drink that I will be making for everyone when I come home) and played guitar until Djon and Marlen came upstairs to fala um boquat (chat for a while). He and I and Marlen stayed up and talked for half the night and looked up at the godzillions of stars that were on display.

Chalk up one more great day!

Leo and I

Here is me and Gisella´s little boy Leo, who is 4.

The Gym (Part 2)

The Gym

Monday, October 1, 2007

Watermelon Pink

So this is what I was talking about when I said the whole sky turns a watermelon pink at sunset. Unreal.

These are delicious!!!

So when I ate all that octopus last weekend, I thought I´d eaten the wierdest thing I would eat here. Not so. Saturday, me and some folks went to the beach and Djon and Sabino panya-d (picked) these things, which Iºm calling tube worms, off of the rocks in the cave. They had to crawl into the churning surf, with waves crashing against them and the rocks, and pry these little bastards off the rocks. It was, in my opinion, very dangerous (although they say "nao muito"). Anyway, they look like little worms with mushroom caps on them, and donºt look very tasty. But, I was proven wronf. Later that night, Marlen threw ém in some salt water with malageta pepper and onion and we feasted. You eat them exactly as you would a rip the mushroom cap off, get the little bit of meat in your teeth, and sort of yank it out. DEE-LISH!! Tastes just like lobster, plus the malageta oil made them REAL hot. So, think picante and lobster and onion. Yummy!

Panya (Picking) Tube Worms

Tube Worms??


So this is little Djonny, the son of Djon, my neighbor. Djonny is a little hellion by any standard, but he is also a lot of fun, and picks up English REAL quick. Anyway, his dad built him some sand legs on, and also a little something else.


So I had a nice day on Saturday, as I went to the beach with some folks from Cha di Igreja. So far, this is my group of friends in town.