Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Logistics...and Language

So if youºre still a little unsure of where I am in Cape Verde (as someone who wrote me today was) maybe this will help. I am on Santo Antao, up at the top left. Iºm at what would be about 10 O´Clock if Santo Antao was a clock, about 2mm from the coast. On this scale, Iºm guessing The Continent (as Africa is known here) would be about 9 or 10 inches to the right.

The Barlavento islands are those on the North, where various dialects of the Sanpadjudo Kriolu is spoken. Although it´s almost never wise to make generalizations, very generally speaking..as in the broadest terms possible...the Barlavento islands are more European, and their residents have more or less a lighter color. The Kriolu is generally shorter or clipped, has a sing-song tone to it, is more stoccato, and more heavily influenced by the Portuguese language. (Although keep in mind that the kriolu I speak in Chan di Igreja is much much different than the Kriolu that the volunteer in, say, the Ribeira of Paul, speaks...so much so that people there may have a hard time understanding people from my village, even though theyºre less than 2 hours away. Different enough in fact, that Cape Verdians from Santo Antao can usually place a person down to the village based solely on their dialect or accent. Example...in Paul they would say Oje ta ku vento. In Chan di Igreja, we say Oj t´k vent Today it is windy. But where was I?)

The Sotavento islands are those in the South, where they speak various dialects of the Badiu Kriolu. Broadly speaking again, the kriolu there is somehat slower, more clearly annunciated (they say tudu dretu where we´d say t´dret for example), and is more heavily influenced by traditional African languages.

Anyway, to get from the main island of Santiago to the island of Sao Vicente is about 50 minutes in one of the puddle-jumping prop-jet planes they fly here. To get from the island of Sao Vicente to my island is about one hour in the ferry boat. The drive from Port Novo, on the south of my island, to Ribeira Grande, on the Northern coast of my island, is about 1 hour as well. (It would much faster except that the road is nothing more than a series of switch-backs up and down the mountains that divide the island into itºs two halves.) The drive from Ribeira Grande to my village is about an hour as well...but only becuase there isn´t what anyone from the States would consider a "road." Basically, you can walk from one one end of the island to the other in a day.

OK, so I hope that helps!


Contact Info (and Go Horns!)

Howdy Yáll. I just wanted to give my contact information for those interested in corresponding with me about this Blog, the Peace Corps or Cape Verde...or movies or music or your love life...anything really. This blog and related e-mails are pretty much the only English that I have contact with anymore, and let me tell you...The Mind begins to wonder when itºs native tongue is taken away. Anyway, so I often get comments and questions left on the site, but they are left under the NO REPLY address, which means I canºt write back to whoever left it. Anyway, if youºre interested in contacting me for whatever reason (I can never get too many e-mails!) please write to txcaley@gmail.com. (Thatºs tx for TEXAS yáll, as in the University of Texas, who, by the way, is maybe about to have the top ranked Division 1 college basketball team in the country. Not too shabby for a football school. Hook´Em Horns!)p.s.
If you are the individual who wrote to me regarding the Guide Book, you are the impetus for this posting, and Iºd be happy to speak with you. Please feel free to contact me at the e-mail address posted above.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Register to Vote!

So one other thing Iºve been doing this month...as far as working goes. Theyºre doing a voter registration drive in Chan di Igreja, and all over Santo Antao actually…possibly all over Cape Verde. Anyway, itºs mandatory for all folks to register. Theyºve got a VERY hi-tech set up that includes a digital camera and backdrop to make photo registration cards, a digital fingerprint scanner, inkless signature pad, and a program that generates random letters to serve as a signature for people who donºt know how to sign their names. ^(See photo below)
Anyway, the machine is way out of my technical league and my job has been to go from door to door reminding people that were doing it in town, and trying to talk them into going and doing it. They don’t really see the point though, as, in their opinion, the CV government doesn’t respond to requests for assistance, provide any services, and mostly just spend money on soccer tournaments and building bigger, prettier, air conditioned government buildings. Hard to argue with them on that, but I’m trying.
More on CV´s politics later.

Voter Registration Set-Up

Lost and Found

Lost and Found
How´s this for honesty? Remember how I lost my pen drive and was having trouble updating the blog until my friend told me my MP3 player would carry documents and pictures? Well, yesterday, one of the drivers returned from Provencao and knocked on my door and handed it to me. Itºs return to me would have been, as youºll see, impossible in the US.
I guess at some point it fell out of my bag in the main plaza in Provencao. (I often go there to read or work on papers if Iºm wainting for a car or for Beni to get off of work.) Although a similar pen drive sells for about 4500$00CVE in Provencao, someone took it to the cyber café there in Provencao and turned it in. The girl there recognized it as mine (κm there a lot and she knows me) and held it there for me for a couple of days, but I havenºt been there recently. So she took the time to seek out a driver that goes to Chan di Igreja and gave it to him and told him to gove it tom me. She actually gave it to him on Monday, but he forgot about it and remembered last night. Anyway, long story short, despite the fact that itºs a fairly expensive little thing that was found with no identifying marks in a town over an hour away, it made itºs way back to my front door. SO COOL!

My House (From the outside)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Send Help!

Cartoon S.O.S.

So I’m teaching English to the little kids in primary school this semester, and in place of the grown-up movies I was using as teaching tools before, I’ve been using cartoons, to great effect. Kids here have pretty much never seen the likes of Shrek and Donkey and Puss N’ Boots and The Incredibles before, and they sit and stare breathlessly throughout the entire film, jaws dropped. Afterwards, I ask each of them to volunteer at least one word that they learned during the film, and you’d be amazed at how many they come up with.

Anyway, I had the Incredibles and the 3 Shrek movies, but now I’m out of cartoons, and this out of Movie Fridays for the little bastards. So, if there is anyone out there reading this that has some cartoon DVDs laying around, or feels like dropping a few bucks on Ebay or Half Priced Books and sending me some, they would be VERY MUCH APPRECIATED! I’m talking like, Ice Age 1 and 2, Finding Nemo, Monster’s Inc., ANTZ, Cinderella, Snow White, Toy Story 1 and 2, etc. If you pick one up, let me know and I’ll alert the press so people aren’t sending the same ones. Spanish or Portuguese translations are helpful, but not necessary. Anyway, thanks in advance for your generosity. I’ll try to take a picture of the faces of these kids next time I can show them a cartoon movie and you’ll understand why I’m making this request.

I could also use gum. I haven’t smoked in 3 weeks and about ready to murder someone. Pretty much it takes 3 pieces of gum for every cigarette I crave, so I’m running through my stash pretty quickly.

OK, thanks!!!

Casa Nov

The New House

So after returning home from the states I moved to a new house here in Chan di Igreja. The old house was great (And I’ll definitely miss the view from the rooftop) but as I may have mentioned before, there was a serious privacy deficiency. Because Peace Corps had arranged for me only one room of a three-room floor, the other two rooms were often occupied by tourists, friends of the landlord, strangers, and due to a mix-up between Peace Corps and my landlord, drunken teenage girls. Several times I awoke to find tourists in my kitchen making coffee and eggs (with my coffee and eggs), several times items went missing from my bathroom or all the water or toilet paper was gone, and several times I was asked by people in my village where exactly in my house Analisia and Lanisia (the drunken teenagers) were sleeping. Needless to say it made for an uncomfortable situation. Apparently, my landlord gave PC the wrong bank account information and PC transferred the money to someone else’s account.) In true Cape Verdian fashion, he didn’t tell anyone. Rather than talk about a problem directly, he sent drunken teenagers to sleep in the room across from me, knowing that would cause me a problem that would, indirectly, lead me to deal with the rent problem. It worked. When I approached him about the drunken teenagers, he told me about the absence of the rent money, and I told PC. A little over a month later, PC did something about it, and arranged this new house. I can tell you though, that the relationship between me and my old landlord soured quickly and living there was a VERY uncomfortable situation for the last month. As it stands, I believe he still has not received any money for the time I was living there, and he still is not speaking to me. More evidence of outstanding American diplomacy abroad.

In any event, I am comfortably installed in the casa de Dona Erminha, a very nice, very rich lady in Chan di Igreja. She has several children living in the States and apparently they are sending back a lot of money and things because her house looks just like (on the inside) any house you might find in America. There is a big screen TV, leather couches, fancy vases, artwork on the walls, etc. They have a generator so they’re the only people with lights on when the power goes out. They own several properties in Chan di Igreja.

Anyway, like I said, I am VERY comfortable here. Inside, all the walls are painted blue which, I can tell you, seems to produce a very tranquil, mellow, feeling (pretty much my favorite thing about the house…after the bathroom). There are 4 rooms, a kitchen, a bathroom a quintal and a veranda. In fact, the only uncomfortable thing about this house is when people ask me “Which one of the rooms is yours?” and then I have to tell them “All of them,” and then they make a face where their eyebrows shoot up and their eyes get real big and there are tons of wrinkles in the forehead and their mouths are slightly agape and they say “Huh?” (I have learned to cover for this excess by telling them, truthfully, that there are no other vacant houses in Chan di Igreja…at least that have running water.) Also the problem about the power. Sometimes sparks come shooting out of the place where the town’s wires are connected to the house, and sometimes I’m the only one in town without power. Still looking into how to get a “qualified professional” out to fix it.

Anyway, here’s a tour. Entering from the front there are two rooms on the bottom floor. One is for where visiting volunteers sleep (Justin and Emily were the inaugural visitors!) and the other serves as the “dining room.” Exit the dining room through the quintal, where I hang laundry and wash clothes, and there is another exit to the right. To the left you have the kitchen and bathroom. The kitchen is about 2m by 2m. The bathroom is a marvel of design and efficiency. It’s about the size of a water heater closet, and serves as the toilet AND shower. You may be able to see in the picture that the shower hose is attached just atop the toilet tank, just beneath the sloping ceiling. Thus, one is not only able, but compelled, to shower while sitting atop the sanita (toilet). Having lived here for a little over three weeks, I can tell you that once you solve the problem of keeping the toilet paper dry, this is a very agreeable arrangement, and should I ever have the funds to construct a house of my own, there will definitely be a toilet inside the shower. Returning to the quintal, you climb the winding staircase to the top floor and enter my “office.” This is where all my clothes and school supplies and books and towels and junk go. From the office you can step out onto the sizeable veranda which overlooks the mini-precio (Quick-Stop Store) and Silvania’s house. Past the office is my bedroom. I chose the minimalist style for my bedroom, with nothing there but my bed on the floor and my wooden chest. The two windows produce a heavenly breeze and, amazingly, when the door and both windows are shut, the room is almost completely dark, even at midday.

So that’s the dollar tour. Here are pictures of everything, except for the outside of the house, which I forgot to take a picture of, but which I will put up shortly. The US Congress comes tomorrow so wish me luck.

Dining Room


Casa di Bano


Top of the Stairs


The Office


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Development News

So there is a BIG project about to get under way on my island. Although I donºt think itºll effect the people in my village, itºs great for Cape Verde. Here´s a Blurb...

Praia, Cape Verde, 28 Jan – Two areas on the island of Santo Antao, in the Cape Verde archipelago, will benefit from a program co-financed by the European Union (EU) for electricity supply based on renewable energy.

Estimated to cost 163 million Cape Verdean escudos, 70 percent of which will be funded by the EU via a fund for African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, the project will benefit the areas of Tarrafal and Monte Trigo on the island of Santo Antao and is scheduled to take 36 months.

Signed Thursday in Praia the financing contract is aimed at meeting the basic energy needs of the two areas via two micro-grids based on renewable energy (solar and water), 24 hours per day and the creation of operations and maintenance management schemes.

Santo Antao is one of the nine inhabited island of Cape Verde, located in the Barlavento group of islands, in the northeast of the archipelago. It is the second largest island by area and the third by population, and is around 40 kilometers long and 20 kilometers wide.

Santo Antao is the western-most island in the archipelago and thus the furthest away from the African continent, and its westernmost point is considered to be the westernmost point of Africa. (macauhub)

Monday, February 18, 2008

Quick Update. And a Pig.

So just a quick update while I type up more interesting stories. Yesterday Beni and I walked to the beaches in Cruzinha to fly my kite for a while, and I took some pictures. Right now, mar e brop (the Sea is Wild), as they say. Hopefully you can get a feel for it from the pictures. Basically, the waves are huge, the noise is tremendous (you can hear it all the way up the hill in Chan de Igreja). Certain Death to all who enter the water, or at least that’s what the Cape Verdians tell me. Anyway, along the way, we saw a very outgoing pig, had to shout to hear each other over the waves. There is also a picture of Beni at her new job at Botique Elegance, which is going very well.

In other news, my new house (pictures to come soon) has a problem with the ligacao (conection) to the power lines, so mine is the only house in town without power…except for when the whole town loses power. So now I’m going through the interesting experience of trying to find a commandeer a qualified person to fix whatever is wrong. Something tells me that this could take quite a while. In the meantime, I’ve moved everything from my freezer to the freezer at Beni’s mom’s house.

I lost my pen drive, which is the main reason behind the delay in updating the Blog, but my dear friend and gadget guru back home, JW, informed me that my MP3 Player will actually hold pictures and word documents as well, which turned out to be true! Have I mentioned that the MP3 Player is definitely the best, most important thing that I briught with me to Cape Verde? Anyway, my thanks to JW for letting me know…I never would have figured that out.

Some US Congressmen and Congresswomen will be coming to my island on Thursday (Does “yes mam” and “yes sir” suffice, or do you have to say “yes Congressman” and “yes Congressmam?”) I’ve been asked by the Powers That Be to play tour guide, which I’m very much looking forward to. My first foray into international politics! I’m to meet them in Port when they get off the boat and take them wherever they want to go. Hopefully I can talk them into coming to Chan di Igreja and agreeing to build a decent road and a new school, and possibly buying a school bus for the kids that have to go to Coculi. Oh, and one of those electric carts for disabled people. Wish me luck.

OK, more to come soon. Here are some pics.

Perfect the Pig

If you have not seen Babe, the movie abou the talking, sheepherding pig that wishes he was a dog, I highly suggest you watch it as soon as possible. Truly, a great film. This bastard reminded me of that movie.

Mar e Brop

Beni and Mar Brop

Beni at Work

My good taste is evident as she is wearing the 2 presents I got her for Christmas.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Me and My Special Lady Friends (back home)

Long Time No See


It’s been a while but I wanted to let those of you who are interested know that I am in fact not dead or injured, and that, contrary to popular reports, I have not yet been caught by INTERPOL.

I have however, in the last 2 months, been to the States to see my friends and family (a long and strange journey which I’ll write more about soon), acquired a small pig, seen hundreds of naked Cape Verdians dancing in the streets for Carnival, suffered from a never-ending case of “engina” (I think it’s what we would call Strep Throat…I’m finally feeling better thank you), gotten a huge hickey on my forehead from an octopus I was trying to catch, hosted visiting volunteers, made the most delicious friend chicken and mashed potatoes in history, quit smoking (almost 3 weeks now and I haven’t killed anyone yet!), gotten my kite stuck in one of the three trees in Chan di Igreja, moved from my old house to another just across the way, spent a wonderful weekend in Mindelo with Benvinda, learned to cook 3 new meals and play nearly every Brian Adams song in existence, read 9 books (including The Hummingbird’s Daughter and 1000 Slendid Suns, which I recommend to EVERYONE) introduced the town of Chan di Igreja to the joys of washer pitching and Frisbee tossing, started a second round of English classes, help build a ramp for a disabled man in my town who had a wheelchair donated to him by an American aid organization, been peed on by Djonny Jr. (who fell asleep in my lap in the car on the way to town the other day and then proceeded to wet his pants), composed an original Valentine’s Day poem in Sanpadjudo Kriolu, pissed myself in the ocean when I was made victim of a practical joke and thought I was being attacked by eels, and fallen down a small flight of steps in my new house when the power when out unexpectedly.

I’ve managed to lose my pen drive however, so I transfer photos and I can’t pre-write the Blog entries on my laptop and then just upload them…which means that I’m paying for computer time as I write anything out, which means that I REALLY need a new pen drive if anyone out there happens to feel like sending one. (1Gig would be prefect!) Anyway, I’ll get one up about my trip to the states (and all the culture shock that that entails) and one about the killer morays that had me panicked in the ocean the other day.

I missed you guys and will write more soon.!!