Saturday, June 21, 2008

Album Art


So this is a plug. Go buy this CD right now. I can guarantee that you wont be dissapointed. It´s be a Cape Verdian artist from Ribeira di Barka on Santiago and available on, and it´s definitely my favorite Cape Verdian music so far. He´s the Cape Verdian version of Dave Matthews, and some of the songs on this album are out of this world. It will also give you a good idea of the various types of music that come from Cape Verde. While I was in Ribeira di Barka during my stay on Santiago I was able to sit down with this guy and his family for a few hours of tokatinhas (jam sessions) and I just kept thinking, this guy could be making a FORTUNE playing sold out venues in the States. Í think that so far he´s busy conquering Europe (he´s very popular in France) but if I get my way, one day you´ll see him playing at SXSW, The Paramount or One World Theater in Austin. Once again, if you´re a music fan at all, buy this CD and enjoy some great Cape Verdian music.

What’s in a Name? Or a Nominha?

What’s in a Name? Or a Nominha?

So I’m approaching my one-year anniversary at site and there are still some people in Chan di Igreja who’s names I still don’t know. Usually I’m good with names, but they do names a little different here.

For one thing, people here are never called or addressed by their last names…even in formal situations. Students all call their teachers by their first name for example. (This non-use of last names may be due to the fact that they aren’t very helpful…in Cha di Igreja (400 people) I have encountered only about a dozen different last names and nearly the entire town is related…most people being no more distant than 2nd cousins.

Another interesting thing with names here is how they are derived. While parents may poi kulakier nom (give any name) to their kids that they wish…it is custom to construct the name from the letters of the father’s and mother’s names. For example, Arisvaldo and Irondina recently had a child and named her Arindinha. It makes things pretty interesting, and Cape Verdians are pretty inventive when it comes to naming their kids…unlike us…according to them. In fact, Cape Verdians often joke with me about the names of Americans. As far as they’re concerned, ours are all monosyllabic and usually boring. Steve, Mike, Bill, Kate…Plain Jane.

Over here however, names are always an adventure. In my village, there are people called Artelindro, Orisvaldo, Benvindo, Rafaelio, Anabelinda, Irondina, and Juelma. Many people have the same name. There are for instance, at least six Joao Pedros and more than a dozen women named Maria Jose in Chan di Igreja. Many people have names that, although different, sound very similar. I know girls in my town named Lanisia, Annalanisia, Licia, Alecia, Lenicia and Alenicia. Let me tell you…it gets confusing.

To make matters worse, nearly everyone here has a nominha (nickname) that they go by. Many have more than one. (This may be due to the fact that so many people have the same or very similar names.) Remember that in the States, nicknames are actually pretty rare. While we may call Richards by Dick, or Patricks by Pat, it’s not often that anyone acquires a “true” nickname like Scooter or Crash or Bunny. Cape Verdians however, have taken nicknames to a new level…an art form really.

Let’s take the example of my friend Cesar, who works at our little store here in Cha di Igeja. His nome completa (full name) is Julius Cesar Lopes. Almost nobody calls him that though, even his mom. He is known by everyone in town as . His really good friends all call him Cabra (Goat). It took me about 6 months to learn his name, even though I saw him and spoke to him almost every day. When I asked him he would say Té but others told me he was called Julius, or Cesar, or Té or Cabra, so I was never sure which was best or which was his.

Now, Té is a rather mundane nominha…it literally means “the letter T,” and there is no story behind how he got it…according to him, he just always had it. Further, many nicknames are in fact abbreviations of their longer ones. Jandira is Janda, Vladimir is Vla, Orisvaldo is Vald. There are certainly more interesting examples though. One guy here is called Inchadin. His real name (which I learned just this instant by sticking my head out my window and hollering down to ask someone in the street) is Altimiro. Inchadin literally means “a little bit swollen,” but don’t worry, it’s not a sexual innuendo…for that story you can go ask Banana where he got his nickname...he’ll be happy to tell you. Anyway, when I asked Inchadin how he got this nickname, he said it’s because he has always liked doing push-ups and pull-ups and was the first kid in his group of friends to get inchod (swollen…or “buff” in this context). Guys who’s names are Hector, Pilar, Antonio and Joao are called Zoff (means a showoff or braggart), Zao (no translation that I am aware of…it just sounds cool I guess), Dino (like dinosaour) and Sod (a shortening of the word pesod, which means “heavy.”) Like Zao, there are plenty of nominhas that don’t mean anything, but sound real cool. Jobla, Txiba, Txida, Bamba, Q, Bava (as Benivinda is known here in town), Celtz and Ces (pronounced

Famous names are also popular here. Since being in Cape Verde I have met Elton John, John Lennon, Brian Adams, Michael Bolton, George Michaels, and Michael Jordan. Interesting and unusual names too. A quick scroll through the contacts in my cell phone reveals Lalino, Lili, and Lonely. Some really beautiful names as well. Some of my favorites are Denizia, Gisela, Jandira, Sofia, Yasmin and Leila.

Anyway, possibly this is only marginally interesting to all of you, but I’m fascinated by names. Maybe not surprising coming from a guy named Caley with a sister called Marnie who’s named her children Piper and Darby. The point of all this is that over here, it’s just harder to learn people’s names, and in most cases, you’re going to have to learn at least two or three names for every person you meet.

Julius Cesar Lopes (aka Té, aka Cabra)



So I’m recently back from almost 3 weeks away from my site…the longest stretch of time out of Chan di Igreja since I got here last September. Three weeks is too much to get into a lot of detail over, but I’ll try to give the highlights.

The original reason for my leaving was so that I could participate in a one day meeting with PC staff members to discuss volunteer issues and difficulties and ways that PC staff and volunteers might work together to resolve some of them. Just prior to my leaving for Praia for that meeting I was invited to participate in the week-long TOT (Training of Trainers…if you can believe that) sessions which are to help prepare PC staff and plan for this years’ PST (Pre Service Training) which begins when the new group of volunteers gets here in July. Then I decided I would leave for Praia a week early and take a trip to visit the island of Maio for a few days before our meeting at PC headquarters. Well, things did not go exactly as planned.

Remember to get to Praia from my village I have to take an almost three hour hiace ride to Porto Novo, an hour boat ride to Mindelo, and then, because the boat company and TACV (Cape Verde Airlines) don’t collaborate on schedules, I had to spend the night in Mindelo and wait for the first plane the following day. So, next day a cab ride to the airport, a 4 hour delay, a one hour flight, and a quick cab ride to the home of another volunteer living in Praia. Basically, what would have taken about 6 or 8 hours in the States took 2 full days.

As far as Maio goes, I couldn’t get there. The airport is still not open there. (It was due to open months ago.) I went to 6 different boat companies and tour operators looking for a boat (you may recall from a previous entry that both boats that service Maio sank in the ocean). I was assured that the only way to get there was with a man named Carlos who had a 10 person fishing boat that was taking people every other day. When I finally met him at the docks he said it was his last trip and he wouldn’t be returning to Praia. So I had a way there but no way back. (Remember this is a whole ISLAND full of people who presumably need things like food and supplies to live and who are apparently, at least temporarily, completely cut off from such things.)

So, I spent the week leading up to TOT in Praia, crashing on a couch. Praia is like a completely different country. There are jobs in Praia, plenty of them…and people living there have money. (A lot of money when compared to the people of Santo Antao.) There is cheap, reliable public transportation. There are paved streets. There are restaurants. There are bars that feature live music. There are hotels. There are swimming pools. There is a university. There are libraries. There are air conditioned grocery stores that look exactly like anything you would find in the states, complete with grocery carts, a frozen foods section, fully stocked produce department, a bakery, butchers and meat cases, a beer and liquor aisle, cosmetics, household supplies…even a pet section. Honey mustard, maple syrup, grapes, Honey Nut Cheerios, pork chops and Diet Coke…just to name a few things that had me all hot and bothered. Things I haven’t seen in a year. I was in shock not only from the supply, but from the prices. EVERYTHING is cheaper in Praia. A lot cheaper. Frozen chicken, rice, and milk were almost half priced, when compared to Santo Antao. A small TV in Praia goes for 10.700$00 CVE. The same TV in Santo Antao…32.000$00 CVE. No exaggeration. (That’s because EVERYTHING that arrives in Santo Antao has to be shipped from Praia, and port taxes paid, from Praia to Sao Vicente to Porto Novo.) All the conveniences of modern, urban life were almost enough to make me jealous. Almost.

Almost, because there is also crime Praia. My volunteer friend warned me not to walk around at night and described several incidents where volunteers living in or passing through Praia have been mugged at knifepoint. Praia has pollution. There is trash and garbage everywhere, often burning in bins and containers and certainly blowing through the streets. Not only does it provide prime breeding grounds for flies and mosquitoes, but it stinks. Praia smells the way I thought Africa would smell. Praia has dogs. Hundreds, maybe thousands of mangy, starving, wounded, aggressive, flea-ridden dogs that roam the streets at random (PC actually advises carrying rocks in your pockets to fend them off) feeding on scraps and the aforementioned trash. Every night, all night, they bark and fight and howl and yelp. It’s a pitiful situation. So, I took the good with the bad and enjoyed the restaurants and the bars and the music and the pools, but did so with rocks in my pocket and only during the day time.

The VAC meeting, where Anthony and I were at the bargaining table, poised and prepared to represent the complaints and concerns for our fellow volunteers to our Country Director…was a total loss. We were told NO to everything…even some things that we were offering. They listened to our ideas and suggestions, but basically we came away with absolutely nothing.

Then it was on to TOT in Assomada. TOT stands for the “Training of Trainers” seminar, and was for all PC staff and volunteers (like myself) who will be planning, teaching and assisting with the PST (Pre Service Training) of the new volunteers coming next month. Now this was an exercise straight from the Department of Redundancy Department. We were essentially a group of about 30 trained teachers who were being trained how to teach trainees how to teach trainers to teach. I am not kidding. The first day, we were asked to develop a series of “Ground Rules” to follow throughout the TOT seminar. Things like “Be Courteous,” “Be On Time,” “Turn Off Cell Phones,” etc. By the end of the first day (and every day thereafter) we had broken every one of them (although they stayed taped to the wall for all five days). There was also much discussion of facilitation, facilitating skills, feedback, feedback on the facilitator, and facilitating feedback...much of it led by one of the worst imaginable facilitators ever rumored to have facilitated anything…although she was a REAL nice lady. We did this for an entire week. I am not kidding. To be fair, there was some valuable information passed along. Things about Adult Learning Styles, Culture Shock, and Diversity were actually quite valuable. Also the snacks were out of this world.

Then it was on to visit my host family in Chan di Tanki, which was great. As it turns out, my brother is now the President of the Kamera in Santo Catarina, having recently won the election there by a mere 140 votes. Needless to say, he was very busy driving around (in a brand new car) shaking hands and promising to do a lot of stuff for a lot of people. He told me “they” paid noventa mil conte (which means 90 thousand thousand escudos…they do math that way here) to throw the victory party. I believe that is about equal to the entire annual budget for some of the kameras in this country. I was also showed the new tampa d’quintal (patio roof) they just bought (most likely purchased with the funds that PC provided them for housing and feeding me for two months), and I helped my dad find and seal a leak by concreting the water tank. They fed me a lot, chastised me for not calling often enough, fed me till I was ready to burst, and sent me on my way with a little tin of this tobacco which you are supposed to sniff but which, when I tried it out, set fire to my brain and melted my nose off.

Then it was on to see the other volunteers on the island of Santiago. I made it to Ribeira di Barka for their festival weekend, where I was molested on a dance floor by a very large woman with poor dental hygene, and then I ate my own body weight in grilled chicken and goat meat. Later I sat in the house of Tcheka (more on him another time) and listened to him and his entire talented family play music and sing. From there it was off to Tarrafal, which is a sweet little resortish beach town, the perfect place to spend the day snorkeling and sunning and sipping drinks, which is what we did. From there it was on to Calheta…also a blast. The volunteers there took me to a pairs dance contest for 8 year olds which was one of the best things I’ve seen since being in Cape Verde. These little bastards were all decked out in fancy duds and could spin like Kansas tornados and all had hips made of jelly. Also, the snacks were out of this world. Next day we spent on the beach where I was ganged up on in a water fight with about 30 little kids, hell bent on drowning me with their buckets. Later we gave some swim lessons to the rascals (most of them can’t swim despite having houses 10 meters from the ocean) picked up some pebbles, and went home to have some delicious chicken quesadillas and pico de gallo.

Then it was back to Praia for my mid-service medical exam. I got felt up, gave blood, had my eyes checked, a boil lanced, and my teeth cleaned, and then pooped in 3 cups to check for African brain worms. I don’t have them. With a clean bill of health, I was sent packing back to Santo Antao, after one last night in an air conditioned hotel and it’s glorious hot water shower.

All in all, a long and fairly unproductive, but fun-filled trip. I’ve now been to every volunteer site on that island, and really feel like I know Santiago almost as well as I know Santo Antao. Upon returning home to Chan di Igreja I learned that little Leo had fallen from a modest cliff and broken his arm. He is currently doing well on Sao Vicente with his father and a new cool-looking cast on his arm, and should be back in town next week. The only other update being that the well-digging machine (see a previous entry) is hard at work in the Ribeira just outside of town, and apparently did manage to tap into a small water vein last week. With a little luck and some more digging, they might be able to develop a small communal well for some of the families living near the site…so good news there and congrats to the mini-revolution. So, that brings you up to date!

Cape Verdian Baby Stroller

So Na Trabalho

My (90 year old) Dad fixing the water tank.

New Quintal

A recent upgrade at my hot family house.

Clean Up Cape Verde PAinting

Environmental Awreness Painting

As seen on the streets of Mindelo

Conserve Water Painting

Let Sleeping Dogs...

Plurinha in Praia

Best Bar Bathroom in Praia

Praia Urban Sprawl

Port in Praia

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Praia Laginhas in Sao Vicente

Porto Novo

More from the Top

View from the Top

The view from the top of Santo Antao...looking DOWN on the clouds. The ground in the picture is the old cauldron from when Santo Antao was an active volcano. Pretty cool.

Great Granni

This is my adoptive great great grannie in Cha di Igreja.

Rosie and Me

This is my neighbor from when I was doing my home stay. She´s grown about 2 feet since the last time I saw her.


This one stand in one corner of one market in PRaia has more produce than pretty much all of Santo Antao.

Sao Vicente at Sunset

One More Thing About the Wishlist

One more thing and then Iºll stop. If you want to send me something from the wishlist, and I hope you do, Amazon ships directly to Cape Verde. My address here is real easy too.

Caley McCormick
Chan di Igreja
Ribeira Grande
Santo Antao
Cape Verde

Thanks again to everyone who´s written me about sending some goodies. To show my appreciation, here are some pics from my recent trip to Santiago.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

WISHLIST UPDATE (Please Try Again!)

So I got a lot of e-mails fro folks who were trying to find my wishlist but couldnºt. Not sure why it doesnºt come up if you search for my e-mail address, but I did eventually find it by looking up my name. So, if anyone is still interested, you can find it by going to and then clicking on the "Gift/Wishlist Tab" and then typing my name: PATRICK MCCORMICK. A list of 45 Patrick McCormicks comes up. I´m the only one from Austin Texas thank gawd...#19 on the list I think. Anyway, thanks again for those of you who were trying, and I hope you try again!

Iºm back on Santo Antao, but couldnºt get a car to my village so Iºm sleeping in Povocon tonight and will try to make it to Cha di Igreja tomorrow. Hope everyone is well.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008


So this may be a little presumptive, but I thought it might be worth a shot. In Praia I talked to several volunteers wo had a lot of success with an wishlist. Bascially they picked out all sorts of goodies like a wedding registry, and then they got lots of packages. Prolly I'm grasping at straws here, but I figured it couldn't hurt.

Some of the stuff I put on there are just books and stuff that I'm wishing I had, and some of the stuff is for the Youth Summer Club that I and a few members of my association are putting on this summer. (Last day of school here is July 4th.) So far we've planned a few fildtrips and a camp out and a soccer tourney for the kids. Anyway, I thought if I could get some fun beach supplies and sporting goods it would make things a little more interesting.

Anyway, if you're a reader of this blog, or a volunteer coming in July, or a friend or family member or stranger wantin' to send me a little love, you can find a few ideas (from 1 penny to $20) of things I'm craving. I think all you have to do is search for my wishlist on Amazon under my email address, which is
If sending presents isn't your thing, I ALWAYS appreciate a good long e-mail or news stories from the real world. (Today I heard that some lunatic burned down the Governer's mansion in Austin, Texas and I gotta admit it hurt a little bit.)

I'm back to Santo Antao tomorrow (After 3 weeks on Santiago) and I can't wait. I miss my friends and my village and am looking forward to sleeping in my own bed for a change. Lots of Luv, I'll put up pics and stories from the past 21 days as soon as I get home and have them hook up the internet again. :-)