Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry Christmas

So yesterday was Xmas, although it hardly felt like it. In what can now safely be called my Christmas Eve tradition, day before yesterday I went fishing in Cruzinha, and although I didn’t manage an octopus this year, I DID spear a glorious red speckled fish. I thought it was a grouper fish, but I’m told it’s something else.
Whatever...it tasted great and I’m feeling like Tarzan again. Something very satisfying about catching, killing, cooking and consuming your meals.

Christmas dinner was an adventure. I offered to cook for all of Benvinda’s immediate family, which turned out to be 11 people, plus me. I had originally intended to make some smoked chicken and stuffing and corn on the cob, but panicked at the last minute and made chicken teriyaki with pineapples and veggies instead, which turned out to be a good decision. There was plenty of food, everyone seemed to enjoy it (16 chicken breasts, 5 pineapples, almost a kilo of rice and a kilo of mixed veggies...and no leftovers!) and afterwards we opened presents.

Beni got me 2 chinese loja DVDs, the first of which was called “Gigantic Super Pilot” and which included 22 Tom Cruise films (all on one DVD). The second was called “Invincible Ugly Woman,” and it turned out to be the entire first two seasons of an American show called Ugly Betty. I gave her the last of the loot I brought back with me from the states. For Nelinda I got a memory card game, for Beli (Beni’s mom) I got a cutting board and a good knife, which I found in Sao Vicente; Cuchi, Vani and Lavinha all got beads to put in their hair, and the rest of the family got tomato, corn, squash and herb seeds. It was over in about 10 seconds.

After that (and by”after that” I mean beginning at about 1 in the morning) there was a dance in the town plaza, with pretty much everybody from town in attendance. Everyone was all decked out in their finest attire and it was the first time I’ve really seen the WHOLE village together...to include the babies, kids, teenagers, adults, old folks, crazy folks, all the folks. They were still dancing when I went to bed at 5:30 this morning.

Dolls seem to have been the present of choice this year, as today nearly every kid in town between the ages of 3 and 13 (boys included) is running around with a little plastic person in their hands. The luckier kids got soccer balls, a couple even got new shoes. There were no bikes, bb guns, or iPods.

Anyway, today everyone is walking around from house to house eating leftovers and wishing everyone well and asking about their Natal holiday. There is a soccer game in the polivalent this evening and yet another mass at the church. (There have been 2 masses a day for 3 straight days now.)

Anyway, hope everyone had a great and merry Christmas. Pic of my glorious catch below!

Big Red Delicious Fish

Monday, December 22, 2008

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Jennifer

In CV, Jennifer is pronounced "j-KNEE-fir"

Lu-Lu

"Cute"does not even begin to describe this little girl's personality.

Iris crying after someone popped her balloon

Beni and Neli in the Kinder Classroom

Christmas School Party

So yesterday was the last day of school before the Xmas holidays and so of course, there was a party. Beni and I spent the better part of the last three days blowing up balloons, making paper snowflakes (the kids had no idea what they were supposed to be) and paper Xmas trees, popcorn garlands and paper tinsel, and generally preparing to spread a great deal of Xmas cheer. I brought my guitar to school and taught them to sing Jingle Bells (it comes out as “jingo bays”) and Beni sewed some Pae Natal (Santa Claus) hats. I remember last year that the food was pretty frako (weak) so for exactly 16 U.S. dollars, I sponsored the mesa (table) this year and there was foods galore. That got us cakes, tortas, pastels, popcorn, crackers, chips, 3 pizzas (made by yours truly and having a crustal consistency just this side of granite) and about one litre of pure-sugar soda per kid. (There are, no doubt, parents cursing my name as we speak.)

At the party there was singing, poetry recital, a reading of The Christmas Miracle in Portuguese, traditional dancing, and, in an attempt to follow up on the AIDS Day information, a question and answer session regarding methods of transmission and avoidance. In general it was a huge success and we were there for about 4 hours yesterday, just having fun.

All did not go perfectly well however. I spent most of this month’s bandwidth downloading Christmas music. (Aside: Did I tell you that in CV you pay for internet per megabyte...4CVE per Mb...rather than just per month...although you pay that too?? Pray that this never happens in the States or you will be forced to seriously curtail your internet usage as 10 minutes skimming the news amounts to about 40 megabytes, or 160CVE...but I digress.) Anyway, I made the school mistress a CD of all that good music and expected to hear it during the party. You may imagine how uncomfortable I was when at the party I instead heard the latest in shitty American rap music to slither its way into Cape Verde. In a particularly creepy moment I watched as dozens of 7 and 8 year olds writhed and undulated and even sang along to lyrics that went: “How you feel me now baby, cuz I can go deeper, I can go deeper, all night long. You already know I’m gonna f*%# you.” Yikes. (Under other circumstances, this phenomenon of Cape Verdians singing the lyrics to English songs they don’t understand is actually quite entertaining, but not so in this case.)

Another problem errupted towards the end of the festa. My 16 dollars got enough balloons for everyone in the school, and despite Beni’s urging to the contrary, I distributed them at the party. Well ael tinha razon (she was right), as that turned into a disaster when the older kids starting popping or stealing those of the little kids. Kiddy-fights broke out, tears were shed, pandemonium ensued, and in the end, I made a quick and unannounced exit, leaving the teachers to deal with the aftermath.

Other than that, the only new thing is the weather. Although it has lately cooled considerably (it’s in the low 60s during the nights) it doesn’t feel anything like Xmas weather. You wouldn’t know it from looking at Cape Verdians though, as people in town can often be seen shivering and walking about in full-on, fur-lined winter parkas made for Antarctic exploration. It’s a nice change form the heat though, and I’ve been happy to get to use my one sweatshirt I brought with me. I think all of the other volunteers from my group that live on my island have already left and gone home to the States for Xmas so now I’ve got the place more or less to myself, moda m kizer (which is as I like it). Later today I’m making a wooden sign that says “You have arrived at the Western-most part of Africa.” Tomorrow I’ll start the day long-hike to get there, plant it in the rocks, spend the night there, hike back, and wait for the tourists to start queueing up.

Pics of stuff below.

The Home Team

Dress for the Weather

Low 60's qualifies as "bone-chilling" in CV.

Soccer on the beach is fun!

Arlet

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Bomberos!

So today was definitely one of my most interesting in Cape Verde so far, and there was bokuat moviment (a lot of activity) in Cha de Igreja, which is rare, to say the least.

I guess the first thing is that my valley got our very own ambulance today, courtesy of a really varied group of non-profit organizations working together, including a group of Jeep and 4x4 enthusiasts in South Africa, various hospital coalitions in Portugal, and a professional sports team from Brussles. Amazing really. Their deal is buying old model Land Rovers, restoring them to mint condition, and then donating them to countries in Africa. Pretty friggin’ cool. It’ll serve all of us living in Cruzinha, Garça and Txangreja, and all the scattered houses in between. Anyway, the president of the kamera was out to inaugurate it, (they’re coo-coo for inaugurations in the country. Last month I witnessed the inauguration of a crate of wheelbarrows.) and to officially swear in the new class of Bomoberos Voluntarios (volunteer firemen) de Frequesia de Sao Pedro Apostolo.

Most of the movimento was surrounding the one-day training event that one must undergo in order to become a member of that prestigious group. The ambulance came roaring into town at about 10 this morning light blazing and horn blaring and I thought we were at war. It actually came straight to my house where his Excellencio Senor Commandante de Protecion Civil asked me if I would take pictures of the day’s training, which of course I was happy to do. I was very interested to learn how one goes about fighting fires in a country that has no water.

Except that, apparently, the main thing you have to know how to do if you’re going to be a firefighter on Santo Antao is repel off of cliffs...which is a handy skill indeed in these mountains, and not one easily mastered, as I can now tell you from firsthand.

Now, it should be mentioned that by the time my dad was my age, he’d probably jumped out of a couple hundred planes, and I’ve never done anything like that, and I’ve always been a bit jealous of him about that, so I REALLY wanted to try it out. I wasn’t sure what the Peace Corps policy is regarding volunteers going repelling, so, I did what every good volunteer would have done in the same situation, which was to check the Peace Corps Volunteer Handbook, where I found nothing specifically prohibiting it, and so at the insistence of the president of the kamera, and under the guidance and expert tutelage of Senor Commandante and his staff, I took the plunge, and it was excellent. It would have been perfect but for the fact that we were descending into the town’s garbage dump at the end of the ribeira. I was subsequently told that this exercise was to practice for the event of a garbage fire, which didn’t make much sense to me since there are garbage fires every couple of months here and I’ve never seen an ambulance or a firefighter come rushing to put those out, at which point it was explained to me that the firefighters have to repel into the crevasse in order to SET, not PUT OUT the trash fires. Ohhhhh…of course.

Anyway, getting back up was, for me, difficult, to say the least. I saw all the other guys (and girl) doing it and it involves putting of one foot through a loop in the rope, and your hands together on a sort of climby-clamping slider and then orchestrating a fluid, graceful, caterpillaresque movement to pull yourself up the line. It is a movement that my body is apparently unable to perform. What took them 8 or 10 minutes took me 20 and by the time I made it to the top I was drenched with sweat, heaving, exhausted.

Some hours later, having recuperated, I came out to see the whole town in the plaza to watch the kamera president swear-in and congratulate the new group and inaugurate the ambulance. He spoke for 39 minutes. Afterwards, was the Simulaçao de Emergencia. The object was to simulate a fall victim (which was good, since that happens all the time here), and here’s how it went down.

Sgt. Sabino (see photo below) hollerd out some things and four of the guys jumped in the back of the ambulance and another guy jumped behind the wheel. They started up the truck, fired up the emergency light and siren (did I mention it’s an old-timey hand cranked air-siren?) and, in a cloud of blue smoke and dust, drove about 20 meters down to the bottom of the steep hill in the middle of town, where another fireman (the simulated victim) was laying. The town rushed to watch the four in the back jump out with a stretcher, and in a careful and practiced manner, load him in the back on a stretcher stand, which was when the trouble started.

First, to get itself pointed back towards town, the ambulance had to make a 26 point turn. (something I’d think you’d want to do before you loaded the victim) It stalled out a couple of times. The back door popped open twice. The air siren blared throughout. In short order they got it running again and about halfway back up the hill, the driver, apparently, dropped into 4-wheel drive on the fly...which caused the truck to make one huge, rather violent jerking motion...which apparently caused the “simulation” victim to be thrown from his stretcher in the back…at which point he became an “actual” victim by breaking his collarbone and being taken directly to the hospital in our new ambulance. I wish I was making this up.

Anyway, it was the first day with the thing, and you know how some clutches can be tricky, especially on an unfamiliar vehicle, and they’ll have plenty of time to practice before next month’s trash fire. Everyone in town is happy to have an ambulance in town (you used to have to pay the 3000$00CVE it costs to rent a hiace out if you were sick or hurt and needed to get to the hospital). I’ve also been made an honorary volunteer firefighter (I got a hat and everything!)

Pics Below. What’s new at home?

Helping Hand

This volunteer freaked out a little bit (and with good reason) when he looked down.

Class of 2008

Without Further ado, I present the Sao Pedro Apostolo Bomberos Voluntario (Volunteer Fire Department), of which I am now an honorary member.

Sgt. Sabino and Two timing Tony

Sabino (on the right) is far and away my best friend in town, and probably one of the best I'll ever have. Tony on the other hand, was responsible for three pregnancies buy three different women in this town (of 397 people) alone, all during the last year. Night and Day.

Ambulancia Novo

Zøf!

That's this guy's name. It means "Showoff."

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Success!

So I thinks it’s worth mentioning that I am posting this from here in Cha de Igreja from the comforts of my own home in fact, via internet which I had installed upstairs a few days ago. Despite what anyone may think may think about the relative poshness of my Peace Corps experience here in Cape Verde, let me assure you that Cape Verde is still Africa, and that getting internet installed in Cha de Igreja, indisputably among the poorest, most remote, isolated and just plain hard to get to places in the country, is not an easy thing to do. Nevertheless, I’ve done it, and its awesome.
I’ve managed to create an office of sorts for myself in the (previously completely barren and unused) room that connects to my bedroom. I ranja’d (arranged) myself a little table and an extra chair, and as I type this out, I’m looking out across my balcony watching the colors on the mountains change as the sun sets in a wild blue sea behind me, and it’s easy to imagine staying here for another year.

Anyway, we just wrapped up the World AIDS Day Week in Cha de Igreja and I gotta tell ya, it was pretty goddam terrific if you ask me. All in all we had in the neighborhood of 900 participants/spectators over the course of the week, which is pretty good considering there are only 397 people currently living in Cha de Igreja, with about the same number in both my neighboring villages, Cruzinha and Garça.
We fed and provided free transportation to nearly all of those, gave red balloons to about three fourths, condoms to half of them, hand sewn red ribbons to about a third of them and some really handsome looking T-shirts to a little over a fourth of them. This was definitely the HIT of the week (along with the town screening of Iron Man) and people went absolutely BATSHIT CRAZY for the shirts. You’d have thought I was handing out iPods or something. We had radio advertising and a journalist from the national paper in attendance. We also managed to have a two-day soccer tournament with trophies, a children’s poster contest, some REALLY cool co-ed youth dance performances. We built a basketball court, had a mural painted, and showed a week’s worth of movies in the plaza. And we did it all for around three thousand dollars. Oh yeah...we also managed to get some AIDS awarenessing done.

All joking aside, I can honestly tell you that I feel that every single person that participated in the project has come away from it a little better informed, and a lot more willing to talk about AIDS, than they were before. And certainly the project has been a real accomplishment in terms of the “community development” that is my main “mission” in the Peace corps. All of the above was accomplished, with the help of Peace Corps, by the community leaders I’ve come to know, using, to the extent possible, community assets to address community weaknesses. All the while (if I’ve done my job well), teaching them about capacity building, and most rewardingly for me, allowing them to recognize their own capacity to pull off something of this magnitude.

Last night at about midnight, as I sent the last of the revelers on their way, turned out the lights and locked up the polivalent, I came across Joailson, a really laid-back, respectful and thoughtful teenager I really like, as he was heading home. I asked him what he thought of the project and he stopped and looked at me and said:

“Mos, nunk n’ha vida k’m oyab un coisa moda kel’la. Foi cool mon. Foi cool.”


That means, word for word:

“Man, never in my life have I seen something like that. It was cool man. It was cool.”

Well, words cannot express how happy that made me feel. All of which is not to say that I’m not about ready to murder half of the people in my town.

The honest truth is that I give us a solid “B-” overall, but we could have, should have, been able to do better. In the end (and the beginning and middle come to think of it) I did A LOT of the work on my own, and literally had to get in arguments with some people to get them to hold up their ends of the bargain. I feel like had I done a little more ass-kicking and had been a little less polite to some of my fellow organizers, we coulda got the A. But Peace Corps taught us, and I agree, that if we as the volunteer are doing all the work, we’re not doing our job well. So for some things I just delegated or advised and let the people who asked to be responsible, be responsible. As it turned out, many of those people were fairly irresponsible.

We suffered many setbacks. The Minister of Health couldn’t see fit to send out a doctor to present the actual AIDS information, or even to return our calls. The fact that we asked them to send us one pissed off the nurse who lives in our town, and he refused to participate in anything thereafter. (Aside: We have the world’s worst male nurse. In a fit of nepotistic blindness, the kamera installed a man who is nauseous at the site of blood and who is allergic to penicillin, and therefore unable to administer those shots, as the chief health care professional in the entire valley. He is also extremely lazy, even by Cape Verdian standards, which is saying a lot. Him I actually admonished in public, which, in this country, is definitely not cool, but everyone in the room was thinking it at the time and it needed to be said.) He was replaced by Romeo, a volunteer bombero (fireman) who had just completed an AIDS awareness formaçao.
The T-shirt company raised their price while also delaying the pick-up date by several days. The sporting equipment supplier failed almost completely. The wood-dealer in Povoçon short-changed me on the purchase of the wood we ended up buying to make the basketball goals. Several people threatened me with bodily harm after I told them that I couldn’t just give them a shirt...that they had to in fact participate in some way.
The girls soccer tourney racket design didn’t allow for a nil-nil tie, which is in fact what happened. Unbelievably, we were unable to determine a winner of the girl’s tournament and so that trophy is currently sitting on my kitchen table.
Several drunks from Cruzinha decided to proveita (take advantage) of the free transportation and they managed to interrupt play several times.

Other things went well though. Several times yesterday I was sort of overcome with pride to think of all the work I’d done to help put this thing together, and then to look around and see so many people laughing and running and playing and competing and eating and yes, even talking about AIDS.
For the first time, possibly in the history of Cape Verde, there was food and drinks left over at the end of the party. Really delicious food. There was, really, mountains of delicious food.
The shirts were well designed, well made, lots of sizes, and turned out great. There was a HUGE demand. We should have spent more on T-shirts and less on free transportation, because I have NO DOUBT that people would have gladly walked here from wherever, at the mere chance of getting a T-shirt. The impact of the T-shirts is really impossible to overstate. People were acting all bananas with regard to the T-shirts. It was instant publicity, instant interest, instant participation. And because we were giving one away every 30 minutes to people who could answer AIDS related questions or make their AIDS Pledges, it kept people in the polivalent, and paying attention, all day. Today was Monday, the first day after the activity, and nearly everyone is still wearing their T-shirts. There is a knock on my door about every 5 minutes from someone wanting to make an AIDS pledge and pick up a T-shirt.

The best part of the community contribution part came in the form of 2 teenagers (Djon and Herman) who were put in charge of building the basketball goals. I mentioned to them that the Sports place reneged on the deal to sell me some backboards and rims and the next day they gave me a list of all the materials they would need to make some themselves. I was able to get the materials and in less than three days we had a basketball court. No shit. They welded and everything.

Incontrovertibly, the best moment of the entire week 8for me) was last night when, in front of most of the population of this entire valley, I gave Wandinha what amounts to a more-than-the-rest-of-her-lifetime-supply of condoms. I have never seen Wandinha sober. Wandinha is approximately 50, but due to extreme exposure to the sun and wind and heat, and to a diet consisting solely of grogue and sugarcane, looks about 138 and is absolutely the last person on the earth that should be having any sort of sex. This gesture went over extremely well with the crowd, and people were howling, crying, screaming, nearly dying with laughter as she proceeded to amorously stumble-chase me around the court for the next ten minutes. Ah man. I will never forget that as long as I live.

Anyway, “Foi cool, mon. Foi cool.” Pics below.

Solda Ferra (Welding the Post)

Kompo Tabela (Makinng the Backboard)

Me and Bebia Serving Food

Group in Shirts

Gals in Shirts

Boys in shirts

Campo

Beni and Jani

Monday, December 1, 2008

World AIDS Day!!!

So today is December 1st, World AIDS Day, and thus the first day of events in my (perhaps overly ambitious) week-long Luta Contra SIDA program. I gotta say...so far so good. Before I reveal everything it is important to understand that over the course of the past 28 days, we’ve been preparing for this week. “Training” entailed a crash course for four leaders of the communities in my valley in AIDS awareness, facilitating group sessions and good discussions, making ribbons, preparing the week’s agenda, assigning AIDS related homework to the students, and previewing a series of films called Scenarios From Africa. I have also been back and forth to Povoçon nearly every day for the past three weeks and was also in SV for several days trying to arrange all the necessary materials, and will have to go back there on Friday to pick up T-shirts and a basketball. Anyway, here’s exactly what’s going on in Txangreja this week, and how we managed to do it...in abbreviated form:

Monday - Formador (host) Bebia
PP Presentation on schedule of events (Caley)
2 Segments form Scenarios From Africa followed by discussion
(supplied by PC)
“What is AIDS?”: Oral presentations by the students
Information Session with Nurse Vincente
Milk and cookies (VAST funds)

Tuesday -
Formador Julia
2 Segments form Scenarios From Africa followed by discussion
(supplied by PC)
“How do People Get AIDS?”: Oral presentations by the students
Information session with the pediatrician from Ribeira Grande (transportation paid by VAST grant)
Juice and Cake (VAST funds)

Wednesday - Formador Didi
3 Segments form Scenarios From Africa followed by discussion
“How Do People Avoid AIDS?”: Oral presentations by the students
Twister Competition (Twister game supplied by PCV in Povoçon)
Catxupa lunch (VAST funds)

Thursday - Formador Caley
3 Segments form Scenarios From Africa followed by discussion
Distribution of poster making materials (pens, watercolors, markers, chalk, posterboard..all supplied bt VAST funds)

Friday - Formador Pedro
4 Segments form Scenarios From Africa followed by discussion
Continue poster making
Radio Praça (I’m taking a page out of the CV’n politician’s book, and have arranged an 8 minute, continuously repeating, never ending music/message clip to be played in the plaza for about 6 hours during the day...financed by VAST funds)

Saturday
Student posters hung in the polivalente (soccer place)
Balloons, ribbons and streamers put up in Polivalente (VAST funds)
Soccer/Basketball Tournament: (organized by and transportation provided by community)
Poster Contest (judged by 4 formadors)
Radio Praça

Sunday
Filming of AIDS Pledges (We'll film about 50 kids making a 15-20 second pledge wherein they'll state their name, age, and nationality, and then promise to do their part to fight AIDS in their community. If things go well, I'll post them on Youtube with a link to the World AIDS Day page. IF things go REALLY well, I'll extract the audio from these clips and have that broadcast on 96.9 Radio Kriola over the course of the following weeks.)
Radio Praça
Inauguration of AIDS Day symbol painting in Polivalent (VAST funds)
Soccer/Basketball Tournament (transportation provided by VAST funds and community contribution)
Community AIDS Palestra and written test led by all 4 formadors (paper, pens and copy charges through VAST funds and community contribution)
World AIDS Day materials and prizes distributed (VAST funds, community contribution and third party)
Announcement of Poster Contest Winners
Presentation of Tournament Trophies (VAST funds and community contribution)
Community Dinner (VAST funds and Community contribution)
Community Dance (Community contribution and third party)
Condom Distribution (Over 3000 condoms donated by PMI and the Delegaçon de Saude in Sao Vicente)

This morning I hung posters (provided by Peace Corps and the Minister of Health in Sao Vicente) all over town. The motto is “Be a Leader in the Fight Against AIDS.” Then I walked around town distributing the little red ribbons and pins for people to wear. With Benvinda’s help, we’ve made about 500 of them...more than enough to go around, and each day I’ll try to distribute about 50. After that we hung a bright banner (the materials having been supplied through the Peace Corps VAST grant) out in front of the school here. It says, I think, “There is no cure for AIDS. Your Life is valuable….protect it and be a leader in the fight against AIDS.” All that before 8:00am.

So after 8, when school starts, things really got rolling. After my english classes, the entire kinder and primary classes convened in the library for Day One of the SIDA (that’s AIDS in Portuguese) PALESTRA (seminar?). It got started in the manner that all good meetings get started...with a Powerpoint Presentation. This was one of my own design, and it basically laid out for them (with pictures of all the kids and really cool transitions between the slides I might add) the schedule of events for the week. After that we began showing segments from Scenarios from Africa. These films are really a great tool for initiating discussions about sensitive topics like AIDS, domestic violence, alcoholism, etc. There are 6 DVDs worth of short films and all of them were the created (written by, filmed by, starring, etc.) by youth and youth groups on the African continent, then dubbed into 8 different languages (including Portuguese) and copied en masse for distribution to various Peace Corps posts. I was lucky enough to get my hands on some of them and I’m terribly thankful for that, because they were a HUGE hit.

The first one we showed was a cartoon explanation of the AIDS virus, complete with little demonic cells racing around trying to kill the good cells. The kids were laughing through most of it, but more importantly, they were paying attention to it. We followed that with a discussion of the material covered in the cartoon to make sure they knew what AIDS was, then went on to show another clip, followed by another short discussion. In a real boon for Peace Corps, and perhaps my own ego, the regional school coordinator happened to be here in Txangreja observing classes (I didn’t know she was coming) and was nearly in tears to see a white guy speaking perfect kriolu and working with local teachers on an AIDS project showing cartoons, in Portuguese, to kids. She asked me if I’d be willing to travel to all the other schools in Santo Antao to do the same thing. The Peace Corps mantra of SUSTAINABILITY popped into my head at that moment and I told her I’d do something better than that...I’d make copies of the films (it says right on the front of the box that copying and distributing them is encouraged) and train Cape Verdian teachers of her choosing how to lead the sessions themselves.

We followed that up with the Cape Verdian equivalent of book reports about AIDS. Of course, there are no books here, which makes book reports difficult. So this weekend a visitor to Txangreja would have seen about a dozen kids running around with a piece of paper and a pencil asking adults what AIDS was, how you got it, and how you avoid it. I can tell you that some of the information presented today was, to say the least, inaccurate. (Except for Rosie’s report, who perspicaciously called the nurse in Garça to get her information.) That actually worked out for the best however, as it gave our newly trained discussion leaders the perfect opportunity to use their recently hones facilitation skills, and in the end, we got everything straight and clear in the minds of our charges.

After that Nurse Vincent (a local) showed up and, in the manner of most Cape Verdian men in a position of power and influence (which is exactly what a nurse in a town like Txangreja is), talked for about three hours about why he was qualified to be giving this information in the first place, and then immediately put everyone to sleep by literally reading word for word from a 2003 technical and statistical manual about AIDS that he apparently downloaded from a UN Website. Milk and Cookies saved the day.

Anyway, that’s day one already under wraps, and you’ve got the program above to see how the rest of the week is (supposed to be) running. I’m gonna try to take a ton of pics bright smiling faces.

A Future Advertisement for the Scenarios From Africa DVDs

I'd like to thank Joanna in the PC office for getting me a copy of these DVDs. Really a great tool. Thanks joanna.

Formador Bebia

Here is a photo Bebia, the 5th grade teacher from my town, and one of the four selected to go through the SIDA/facilitation crash course. We borrowed the TV and DVD player from the lady next door.

AIDS Audience

All these kids were in the "library" today to see the AIDS films.

Campaign Poster

Rosie Reading

Valuable Sign

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Could You Do This With YOUR Hair?

D in Ponto do Sol

I offer this to D's mom...in the hopes that maybe she'll send some BarBQ Sause back with him when he returns from Xmas vacation in the states??? (I know it's shameless begging but still...its babrbq sause!)

The Newest Little Cape Verdian

Meet Eduard....Suzi's first baby. (Despite it's color, I promise I am not the father.)

World AIDS Day

More Frustrations

So in terms of my World AIDS Day project, I believe I left off after our community meeting in which we decided to have an intercambio de kuart zona (4 town basketball tournament). The next part was seeking funding, which, as it turned out was the easiest part of the whole damned operation.

At our last group training in Praia, PC did a great job of training and encouraging us in how to consigui (obtaining) funds for AIDS related activities. With the help of some community partners, I made out a budget, wrote some letters, filled out some forms and within about 10 days, was approved for a pretty sizeable sum. As I said, getting the money into the bank was easy. Getting out, however, and subsequently spending it on Cape Verdian businesses has been, quite literally, impossible.
The best advice I can give to anyone wishing to conduct any type of business here in Cape Verde is...bring a book. You’re going to need something to read. Now it’s true that Hours of Operation are posted outside nearly every business in Cape Verde. But, whereas in America, Hours of Operation refer to the schedule that an impresa (business) will be unlocked, staffed, prepared for...even EXPECTING people to come in….here in Cape Verde its another story. Here, Hours of Operation is more of a general suggestion as to when someone might show up and, depending on their mood, possibly even assist you.

Take the bank for instance. I turned up there the day after the funds arrived in the bank at 7:55. (Five minutes early.) Although I could see several people milling about inside, I waited, as the sign on the door still said Fechado. At 8:11 a well-dressed man came to the door saw, me turned the sign around and walked back behind the counter...having failed to unlock the door. I knocked, and he came back shortly thereafter and let me in. I approached the counter where three women sat, smiled my best smile and said good morning. The response was “ainda nao.” (Not yet.) So I waited some more. I observed. Behind the three women were two well-dressed men, including the one who let me in. For the life of me I can’t tell what their job is, but if I had to guess, I would say that it has something to do with shuffling around, rustling in their pockets, and ensuring that all papers, clips, staplers and stamps were at perfect right angles to the corners of their desks.

Later, more customers arrived and the lobby began to fill. It was well past 8:30 and they had yet to attend a sngle customer. An old man came in and squeezed between me and the roped stanchion that I was standing behind...usurping me from the first position in line. I didn’t say a word. I smiled. At some point (after the old man had conducted his business) one of the ladies(for only one seemed to be helping customers while the others spied their their screens as if they were written in Chinese) bade me forward with a flick of her delicate wrist and a look on her face that made her displeasure of having to be at work on this (or any) particular moring quite clear. I smiled and said I’d like to make a lavantamento (withdrawal). Well that didn’t go over to well because she looked at me like I’d just asked her to alphabetize my recipe box. There was a roll of the eyes, a deep sign and then she slapped a document on the desk. I smiled. I asked for a pen. The look I received in return was all I needed to understand that were no pens to be used on this particular day. So I dug in my bag and found one and filled out the form.

I wanted 60,000$00CVE (about $600)...enough to make a down payment on the T-shirts and basketball equipment that I intended to order in Sao Vicente. She slapped her hand on the counter, slid the paper back to her side took one look at it and announced, with a certain amount of incredulity, and to the now crowded bank: “You want 60,000?” I said I did. She asked when I wanted it. I smiled and I offered today as a suggestion. Again a roll of the eyes and a sigh. She got up from her desk, with what seemed like a great weight on her shoulders and disappeared behind a door in the back, with a contemptuous glance over her shoulders as she walked away. No “Ok, let me see about that.” No “I’ll need to get a signature and I’ll be right back.” Definitely no “certainly sir, I’ll be right back with your request.” She just got up and left. I was fully expecting to be waiting there for the better part of the day...which is exactly what happened. The woman never returned. I never even saw a glimpse of her. She never came back to tell me what was going on...not even to ask me to step aside so that she could help other customers while my request was being processed. I read entire chapters of a pretty big goddam book and in fact passed nearly two hours before she resurfaced. She did however, have the money (she didn’t count it out for me but did make a big production of slapping the fat stack of bills on the counter, but I smiled anyway and thanked her and went on my way...wary of anyone following me to murder me for my anti-AIDS activity money.

I won’t murder you with all the details of my expidiente (business) in Sao Vicente, but let me hit the high-lights.
There are four T-shirt printing companies in Sao Vicente. Three of them have no T-shirts. One has only pink. Size extra small. I received wildly varying estimates for the price of a T-shirt emblazoned with the red AIDS ribbon, and wildly different expectations as to when they could be done by. (The worst case scenario was “next year.”) I smiled though all of it.
The sporting equipment company has little to no sporting equipment. I did in fact (last month) sign a promissory note to pay for two basketball goals should they order them from Praia for me, which they did with little or no trouble. The problem turned out to be that they then sold those to the kamera in Mindelo. Ditto the basketballs. I was promised a donation of two trophies for the activity in exchange for my business and a little publicity during the event, but he told me, straight faced, that right now, as it turns out, they didn’t have enough to be giving any away. (This despite the fact that that behind him, behind me, behind the counters, on the walls, on the shelves, on the floors, and in boxes, lay trophies. A veritable cornucopia of trophies was literally littering the store. I smiled through all of it, but did put it frankly to the proprietor that I had money in my hand, and wanted desperately to spend it in his store, for the benefit of his countrymen, but that he was making it very close to impossible. He too smiled.

Ribbons, balloons, tape, scissors, other promotional materials, the food, the transportation, help making and posting the avisos (signs), help organizing the actual tournament and a couple of other things have come, not easily, but more easily than most of this, but sufficed to say that there is nothing anywhere approximating customer service in this country, and even having “cash to burn,” for lack of a better term, doesn’t help.

In the end what helped was connections, and improvisations. It turns out that Lili, Benvinda’s uncle, is a very popular, much respected ex-cop, who is also the third uncle of the guy in the sporting goods store. I told him about my trouble and we went over there together where he walked right behind the counter and spoke to the proprietor in some very hushed tones and forthwith, two basketballs, a soccer ball, two (complimentary) trophies, and two basketball rims were produced. Now I was really smiling.

I asked Lili if he happened to be related to the T-shirt guy and, as it turns out...he was. First cousins as it happens and in much the same manner, I was assured that 200 whote T-shirts could be arranged, if I could give them a week or so. It involves the T-shoirt guy going around to various suppliers and getting what he can where he can and it’ll cost a little more to make the shirts, but that’s exactly the type of business attitude that I’d expect in America. I would think that here, where cash and business is much harder to come by, people would be willing to “go the extra mile” to get that business, but apparently not. Anyway, my thanks to the very persuasive Lili for all his help, as it looks like we’ll be able to pull off this activity after all.
So that’s it for now, next up will be a brief diatribe about the worthlessness of the local kamera. Rather than help us out with our activity, they’ve found out that Peace Corps (and American money) was involved and they ended up soliciting funds from us. Not only are they not getting any of our funds, but it has been made very clear to people in Txangreja that the reason we aren’t painting any ribbons or AIDS slogans on the polivalent walls is because the kamera reneged on it’s word to come do that for us and instead sent word that we’d need to pay over 20,000$00CVE. It’s criminal really.

OK, enough griping. Bring on World AIDS Day!!!!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Waterfall in Paul

Xmas Wish?

So if anyone out there wants to send me a Xmas present, there are 2 books I really want to read. They are The Second World War: A Complete History - Martin Gilbert; and The Men Who Stare at Goats. K, thanks.

Twister Rocks

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Nelinda


Here is Nelinda...Beni's little sister.

Everyone Say "Ice Cream"

So I managed to get my hands on a game of Twister recently, and it is currently all the rage in Txangreja. I think yesterday we played for about 3 hours straight....with theis short break for "ice cream," which is actually just some frozen kool-aid type pops that I made.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Pato, Pato, Peru

This is the kids playing pato, pato, peru. I didn't know the word for goose, and in any event they wouldn't know what one was, so the game is now called duck, duck, turkey. The only problem is that everyone WANTS to be cooked in the pot in the middle.

Lavinha and Cuchinha

These are Benvinda's cousins who are regular visitors at my house...at least on the days when I have yogurt and cookies to hand out.

Portuguese Symphony


This week a group of "musical missionaries" came and played a 20 minute concert in Txangreja.

How to do a Project in Cape Verde

So as I said before, over the past month or so I, along with my local association, have been planning an event for World AIDS Day (December 1st...mark your calendars!) in my town, and I thought I’d try to write a little bit about what that entails and why it’s nearly impossible to get anything accomplished in this country. Now this is a long and complicated process, and thus a longer story than normal, so for those (two or three) interested persons, I’ll break it up into several entries over several days.
In a nutshell, what we’re doing is to invite all four towns in my ribeira to all-day soccer/basketball tournament here in Txangreja, during which we’ll play soccer/basketball, talk about AIDS awareness and prevention, paint some anti-AIDS slogans on the walls of the polivalent (miniature concrete soccer field), distribute condoms and T-shirts and trophies, and wrap the whole thing up with food and juice and a dance.

Now, at the beginning, I thought of the project as “difficult but doable.” I have since come to think of it as “overambitious” to say the least, and probably requiring divine intervention. There are a multitude of challenges every step of the way, and if I had any hair on my head I’d be pulling it out by now. What I’ve learned over the past several weeks is that in Cape Verde, you have to go back and reinvent not just the wheel, but the lever, the fulcrum, and several of Newton’s Laws for each and every step involved in getting anything done. But I’ll get to that.


Now obviously I didn’t have any particular qualifications in community development or “event planning” before I came here (unless you count my annual Halloween Pumpkin Carving Parties, or the 1st Annual South Austin Rock-Paper-Scissors Pro-Am Invitational Open that we had at my house a couple years back). However, at our last two group training events in Praia, Peace Corps gave us a crash course in project planning and development, including how to secure funding and write grant proposals. As it turns out, there are quite a lot of American and international funds available for AIDS education and awareness programs in Africa. Its not just free money...there are many stipulations (the maximum amount that can be requested, what types of projects can be funded, what the funds can be used to purchase, and other restrictions on how the money can be spent). The particular grant I had in mind demands a minimum community and/or third party contribution of 25% of the total project cost. Cognizant of all these restrictions, I set out to get Txangreja some of that money.


During our Peace Corps training, we learned that there are many important steps involved in planning a community project. The “African Development Model” currently in favor (although there are a lot to choose from), says that before you can even decide what it is you’re going to do, you gotta do a ton of other stuff first. Ergo, we had several “experts” come and talk to us about Resource Procurement, Asset and Community Mapping, Feasibility Studies, Appreciative Inquiries, Community Leader Identification, Resource Management, Community Contribution and the Development of Local Agendas. So for brevity’s sake, lets just say that all of that stuff is what I’ve been doing for the last year and a half in Txangreja.


So, step one of the “Development Plan” specifies that any successful project requires the endorsement and participation of the community, and community leaders in particular, in the planning, preparing and implementation stages. So a couple a months ago I met with the dirreçao (leadership) of my Association, told them about the AIDS money and the formaçao (training) I’d just had and it was decided that we should try to do a World AIDS Day activity in town. So now we’ve arrived at the part where I actually get to sit down with my community to solicit ideas and suggestions, form a plan for the activity itself, delegate volunteers to come up with a orçament (budget) and press for some form of community contribution to meet the 25% minimum contribution. Well, as it happens, just the “sitting down with my community part” of all of that was a challenge in and of itself.


Having identified the leaders and powerbrokers in Txangreja (who’s participation is prescribed in the “Development Model” and who, in the case of Txangreja, turn out to be the teachers, the nurse, the owners of the hiaces, the guy who owns the giant speakers and CD player, and the ladies who run the local rathskellers), Pedro (the President of my association) and I set out to have a meeting. That’s all. Just to have a meeting. Nine people in the same room at the same time, for half an hour, to talk about how we can get some practically free money (we’re talking thousands of dollars!) to do a worthwhile project in town. It took ten days.


You would think that the mere suggestion of thousands of American dollars being spent by Txangrejans for Txangrejans in service to the education and betterment of Txangrejans would have them lining up at the doors. Not so. Keep in mind that the unemployment rate in my town is hovering at around, say, 97%. There are only one and a half television channels available here. We are often without power. The kids are in school for most of the day. There is currently no farming or harvesting to be done, and the town has been devoid of decks of playing cards for some time. The beaches are underwater and boats can’t go our for fish because mar e brop (the sea is too rough). There is, to say the least, not much to do around here right now. So Pedro and I thoughtfully tava t’marka hora (set the time) of the meeting for 12PM. (After the drivers’ work day is done, but before the kids home from school and during a break in the telenovela (soap opera) schedule. Pedro went door to door to invite our 9 guests three days in advance. On the day of the meeting I showed up ten minutes early...and waited 2 hours for the first person to show up. By 3PM there were three people. The rate of one person per hour made me insane and we decided to try it again the following day. No excuses or elaborate stories were offered by those who failed to attend. In a Cape Verdian cultural phenomenon I hope to employ when I return to the States, Cape Verdians almost almost always prefer to just say something like…

”Oh yeah...that meeting? Yeah, I didn’t go.”

“You couldn’t make it or you forgot about it?”

“No, I just didn’t go.”

Its like that. Anyway, we had better success on Saturday, as at various points throughout the afternoon we had as many as 4 people in the room at the same time, but inevitably one would tire of waiting for the others and he’d leave, another would enter, and so on and so on. So I consulted with Pedro and he decided that printed invitations were what we really needed. That was sure to fix the problem. Which brings me to reinventing the wheel.


To get some printed invitations required the use of the Association’s computer (it exploded last week...literally...exploded), the printer (out of very expensive ink), paper (also expensive and unavailable here in Txangreja) and electricity (hit or miss these days). I suggested hand-writing them but Pedro shot that down. So I used my own money to get back and forth to Povoçon, and bought the expensive ink and the expensive paper and had our Txangrejan printer sent on the hour car ride to Garça (where they have a functioning computer but no printer, and waited three hours for the power to come on there and did, finally, manage to make up some elegantly worded invitations for nine people, who I see each and every day several times a day, to come to the school that they walk past several times a day. Pedro then distributed these invitation and true to his word, it worked. On the appointed day, and only one hour late, we had five people. That made a quorum, so I said fuck it let’s just get on with it and we started. Eventually the other four showed up and I didn’t have to re-explain everything too many times.

So during that meeting we came up with the plan, which will, hopefully go as follows:
1. Four teams in the tourney boys and girls, for a total of 8 teams
2. Food for 300 people
3. T-shirts for 250 people
4. Two Trophies
5. Five hundred condoms
6. Music and a dance
7. Balloons and red ribbons
8. Painted slogans on the walls
9. Kids poster contest
10. Transportation provided for visiting teams
11. Four 20 minute “sessions” on AIDS awareness and prevention given by local community leaders
12. Basketball goals and nets installed in the polivalent

So that was a while ago and we’ve made (not without difficulty) a lot of progress since then, but I’ll write more about that later.
In the meantime, here are some newer pics!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Gettin' Busy!!!!

So it’s been a while since I wrote anything here, but I’ve got a real good excuse. I’ve actually been busy with WORK if you can believe that. There’s been an awful lot going on over the past month and a half, so I’ll give you the quick version.

First, we’re back on with the english classes, except this time I’m focusing on the kids in town. As of last month, Benvinda (who was just hired as the local kindergarten teacher) and I have been working with the kindergartners three times a week, teaching them the alphabet, numbers, basic nutrition, and some VERY basic english (Hi my name is_____, I am _____ years old, etc.). Believe it or not, they actually learn faster than most of my older students from the previous english classes.

Additionally, I’m teaching English 2 days a week to the 4th and 5th graders in town. They’ve already got all the “introduction and greeting” english down pretty well, so we’ve moved on to conjugating the verb “to be,” personal pronouns and augmenting their vocabulary. Basically they stay in class for one extra hour after their normal classes and we work on these topics, pronunciation, and confidence. It does a heart good to know that after 5 hours of school, there are kids in this town that are interested enough in learning english that they’re willing to stay late to take advantage of some free instruction. (I think the Friday night cartoon movies that I’m showing are a big incentive as well. 100% attendance is required for them to come to that.) We obviously don’t have textbooks or readers, so most of the work is just just done aloud, with lots of repetition.

Finally, with respect to the english classes, I’ve got a small group of high school students that come over 3 times a week for help with their homework and to practice/apply the lessons they’re learning at the liçeo (high school). That’s a lot of fun as well, as I’ve already seen a marked improvement in their grades at shcool. (I’ve been getting quite a few free meals out of the deal as well, as the parents are ecstatic that their kids grades are coming up.)

So, in addition to the english instruction, last month I was invited by to speak at Universidad Lusofona (in Mindelo on the island of Sau Vicente) about Peace Corps in general (our mission and global initiatives) and specifically about my experiences here in Cape Verde. Universidad Lusofona is a Portuguese institution, funded by private charitable donations, who’s aim it is to help provide quality educations to poor residents in Portuguese speaking countries. Essentially they build first-class universities in developing countries in Africa, and also have two campuses in Brazil, where they offer degrees in Enlgish, teaching, civil construction, accounting, management, Portuguese, architecture, law, and biology, just to name a few. According to the Lusofona Director, the group offers over 10,000 full-ride scholarships to qualified African students. (Although I’ve yet to meet a Cape Verdian who would allow you to refer to them as African, they do, nonetheless, qualify for the free tuition grants.

It was a two day seminar geared towards about-to-graduate students, and how they can go about getting jobs with their new education and shiny degrees. There were representatives from most of Cape Verde’s major employers, including the Halcyon Airlines, Enacol (think Exxon but for Africa), the shipping industry, etc. There were also sessions on how to prepare a CV or Resume, basic interview skills, how to market oneself to an employer and other pretty useful skills that perhaps we as Americans take for granted.

Anyway, I gather I was invited as the evening’s entertainment, as I was pretty much last person on the program to speak on the first night, and I was asked to speak, as I said, about my experiences as a volunteer in Cape Verde, and a little bit about volunteering opportunities here in Cape Verde, all of which have little to do with gaining employment in the “private sector” here in Cape Verde.

So there were about 250 people in the audience and I was definitely a little nervous. I’d prepared a good little slide show with pics from my time here so far, as well as a brief but thorough segment on Peace Corps (its history, the three main goals, seven global initiatives, etc.). I had also, on the advice of my country director, practiced my all-kriolu speech in front of a mirror a few times, timing it to make sure I came in under the 30 minute mark that I was allotted. However, just minutes before I was to go up front, the school director “reminded me” that I needed to be give my presentation in Portuguese. Uh….Wha? A brief wave of nausea and a bad case of the sweats struck me.

Now its true that Portuguese is the “official” language of the country, and its certainly the language spoken in the classrooms...but as I’ve said before, nobody here speaks it in the home or on the streets and in over a year here in Cape Verde, I’ve never had a conversation in Portuguese. Plus, at this point, my kriolu is excellent, and I was really looking forward to seeing some freaked out Cape Verdians as they encountered what was likely to be their first kriolu speaking white guy. Now, I’ve been studying Portuguese, and I can understand it when I hear it spoken, and I can read it, and I can even, given enough time (say, like a decade) express myself...a little. I was and am certain however, that I could not give a 30 minute presentation in front of 250 people (which included some rather technical language) at a formal event without coming across as...well...mentally deficient.

So I begged the lady to let me talk in kriolu, I explained that in my line of work, kriolu is essential, that it's an integral, probably the MOST integral part of my experience, that I absolutely NEEDED to speak in kriolu, if for no other reason than not to embarrass myself or the Peace Corps. She initially suggested that I speak in English and let her translate into Portuguese and I resisted and she resisted, but then relented thank God. So she got up to introduce me, and away we went.

Well I can tell you that that evening will definitely go down as one of my favorite and most memorable experiences in Cape Verde. As soon as I started talking, about 200 jaws hit the floor and there were expressions of disbelief written across every face in the room. These people could absolutely not believe that a white American, in country for just over a year, could speak kriolu. (It is a real testament to the Peace Corps training program that we volunteers are able to acquire the language in such a short time, and I think I did Peace Corps proud on this particular occassion, if I do say so myself.) Seeing the looks on thier faces, I knew I had their attention and it put my nervous stomach at ease, and I ended up breezing through the presentation. After doing the plugs and promos for PC, I talked ( being sure to slip in a little bit of the BAdiu kriolu from Santiago) and showed slides about and from everything including the application process, my first few nights in my home stay village, our two month training, my arrival in Txangreja, the awkwardness of all of it, the language acquisition, some of the projects that I and various other volunteers have undertaken, my impressions of Cape Verde and the culture, and then I wrapped up with a little bit about volunteerism and some of the opportunities that exist for Cape Verdians to volunteer here in Cape Verde, giving an example of a great guy from Txan di Tanki who volunteers his time to do a kids theater group. Then I thanked everyone and asked if there were any questions. Well, about 250 hands shot up and it quickly became clear that they thought I was lying.

They disbelievingly asked me things like:

Could you clarify how long you've been in Santo Antao? Just since last September? And you didn't know kriolu before you came? And you don't speak Portuguese? And you didn't know any Portuguese before you came? And you had to learn Santiago kriolu and then learn Sanpadjudo kriolu? And you can speak them both? You're staying for TWO YEARS? You are working FOR FREE? And you WANTED to leave America and come here or it's like the army? (Many Cape Verdians think the US still uses the draft system.) And you LIKE Cape Verde? You LOVE Cape Verde?

I ended up taking questions for about 15 more minutes before we had to wrap it up but I got a HUGE ego boost with a nice round of applause and lots of hand shakes as I stepped down from the podium. During the drinks and reception part of the evening I answered many more questions, exchanged contact information with a number of people interested in learning how they could volunteer with the I.N.D.P (the turtle people) and how they could start local associations like the one I work in. Afterwards I went to dinner with the school administration where we (hopefully) made some important connections and, assuming that the universities goals are in lone with those of the Peace Corps, maybe the evening will one day lead to a volunteer working in that University. (Although those details and negotiations are things WAY beyond my pay grade.)

The following night was pretty much a repeat of the first, with more questions and I notices, a lot of the same poeple in the audience...still apparently not convinced that Peace Corps was for real. I got invited out for dfrinks with several of the students afterwards which was certainly fun. So not only did I get a huge swollen head from the whole weekend, but I got to stay in the hotel in Mindelo with hot water and AC as a bonus. Really, I couldn't have asked for a better few days.

So there's one more big work project to talk about, which is the WORLD AIDS DAY TOURNAMENT that me and the local association will be putting on in Txangreja at the end f this month. I am kind of hoping to give you a real feel for what it's like to prepare, plan for, organize and fund a project here...how to operate in general in this country. So since I've already been blabbering for a while, I'll save that for next time. I've also got a good entry about US election night which I spent in Mindelo as well, and I'll get that up pending approval from the US State department. ;-)

OK, so there are some pics of my classes below, and maybe one of a sunset? I think I switched the labels on some, so the 4th graders may actually be the 5th graders and vice versa.

Sunset in Txangreja

Part of my HS English Study Group


Here they are taking a test that I made up for them. I gave it to them the night before their real test in school, and hopefully, it was more or less what they got in their actual class.

Me and the Kinders

My 5th Grade Class

My 4th Grade Class

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

E.T.

Did I mention I got a cat one day in Mindelo? I swear to god if you'da told me a year ago that one day I'd be putting pictures of my cat on the internet I'd a decked you in the mouth. Anyway, this little bastard literally followed me around the city of Mindelo for an hour...even waiting outside of a restaurant for me. He was pretty much starved to death, and looked like an alien...thus the name. Anyway, I took pity on the little bastard and took him all the way home to Txangreja. Since getting home he's gotten pretty fat and lazy and considerably less adorable. Now he refuses to eat anything other than expensive sausage and in fact, easts better than I do.

Ponto do Sol

This is the "capital city" of my conselho, or county.