Wednesday, October 29, 2008


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.

Vuk Taref

This is a "neighborhood" in Txangreja. Its a 3 minute walk from my "neighborhood" and I pass through two other "neighborhoods" on my way there. Cape Verdians are doid (crazy) about naming little areas "Neighborhoods."

Road to Fontainhas

I think you can see here how all that protects you from falling more than a thousand meters to your death is a carefully stacked (no mortar or concrete) stone wall.

Font Pano

Can't tell much from this photo bc I've had to reduce the image quality so much to get it up on the net, but this town is literally built on a knife-edge cliff.

The Hike Through Fontainhas

In case you couldn't tell how steep this valley is I've tried to hilite the trail for you. Maybe its no help, but even with these switchbacks, its almost a vertical trail in some parts.


Friday, October 17, 2008

Also the Cutest Girl Ever

I swear, this is one of the cutest little girls alive. If you dressed her up in Baby Gap clothes and put her picture in a magazine, the clothes would sell out in about 2 minutes.

Gals at the Party

Sumpin' Smells Good!

This is what happens when you tell someone in town that you're hungry...4 good lookin' girls come over and make a ton of food!

For Daron's Ma

Got a nice e-mail from Daron's Ma, so I thought I'd send out a pic of Daron walking along Turlte Beach...presumably pondering the solutions to all the world's he is apt to do.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Txangreja Pano

So here is my entire valley in one view. In case you haven't noticed, I just figured out how to use the panorama feature on my computer. Now I'm addicted.

How I Spend My Free Time

Immediately after this pic was taken I was lifted about 6 fet off the ground and then slammed into the sand. Awesome!!


Cape Verdian etiquette requires one to assume cheesy poses for pictures.


This is a water crossing in Povoçon, the town on the other side of the mountain.

Dia de Torturuginha (Part Deaux)

So yesterday we had the second annual Dia de Torturuginha in Cruzinha which was the culmination of a years worth of work and diligence, and definitely one of my best days in Cape Verde. Some strong feelings of personal satisfaction, fulfillment and contentment, and a reminder that coming here was the right decision for me.

The day progressed almost exactly as it did last year (if you’re supremely bored, you can go back and see a detailed account of last year’s event), except that it was better organized, there were more kids and more snacks, but most importantly, and due in no small part to the efforts of the local associations and citizens in Cruzinha and Cha de Igreja, myself, Peace Corps and the I.N.D.P., MORE TURTLES!!! Why more turtles you ask?

Well, as I recently posted, we’ve had a tremendous amount of rain over the last couple of months, with severe flooding all across the island. Roads everywhere are underwater, there have been some pretty substantial mud and rock slides, and power in my ribeira has been virtually non-existent. As it turns out, nearly ALL of that rain-run-off wound its way to the bottom of the ribeira (taking the road to Txangreja with it) before winding up at the beach at Boca de Moch, or what I have previously referred to as my “Turtle Beach.” Unfortunately, the natural lay of the land on that beach caused a small lake to form there. Exactly, it turns out, in the spot where the Santo Antao Green Sea Turtles had laid their eggs this summer. Now with all of that in mind, you may recall a post from last month wherein I “unveiled” the Area Protegid de Torturuginha, or turtle egg protection beach fort area, as it is also known. (For those of you unfamiliar with this project, we basically built a little fort for sea turtle eggs and recruited volunteers to monitor the beaches for turtle activity, move newly laid eggs into the fort, and then guard them until they hatch.) Well, long story short, it worked to perfection, and in the process, definitely saved the lives of 146 baby green sea turtles, 42 of which were set loose yesterday.

Hopefully from the pictures below, you’ll be able to see just how well-conceived, well-designed and well-implemented the project was...if I do say so myself. (If you look just beyond the fort and the sign, you’ll see the “lake” that formed on the beach. That’s precisely where we pulled the eggs from.) Without the work of the I.N.D.P., the Associations in Cruzinha and Cha de Igreja, the fort constructers and the various volunteer beach monitors, those eggs certainly would have been drowned and crushed beneath the water.

So let’s, for a moment, consider the statistical success of the project...the real life impact if you will, by assigning to it some “concrete numbers” and ”measurable statistics,” as Peace Corps and all other governmental entities are so fond of doing, and which is definitely part of my job as a Peace Corps volunteer. Thinking conservatively…

146 baby sea turtles. That’s how many have hatched or are still safe inside their eggs inside the turtle fort, and that’ SINCE the rains fell and created the lake on the beach. Green Sea turtles have a 90% mortality rate in the wild, and most won’t survive their first year in the ocean. So let’s say 14.6 make it. That should be rounded down to 14 turtles (maybe there are a few more predators out there this year) that will, potentially, survive to breeding age (15 to 20 years old). Of the 14 adults, lets say half are females. Now we’re down to 7. Let’s say of those 7 adult females, half find another beach somewhere else and don’t return to Boca de Moch to lay their eggs. (I don’t have any reason to suspect that this would happen naturally, I’m just trying to adopt the “conservative estimates” that Peace Corps accounting principles tend to favor. That leaves 3.5 adult, egg-laying, Cape Verdian Green Sea Turtles nesting on Santo Antao. This I’ll actually round up to 4, since we’ve been rounding down this whole time. So that’s 4 that we can sort-of reliably predict to return to the beach at Boca de Moch to lay their eggs sometime around the year 2033. Si Deus Quizer (God willing), I could return to Cap Verde the summer before I turn 58 years old, sleep on the beach at Boca de Moch, and presumably, greet 4 turtles that I had a hand in saving. Thinking exponentially now, let’s say each of those 4 go on to produce 4 more egg laying females. If you accept the premise that those original 4 will survive and continue to return to Boca de Moch each year to lay their eggs, that means that somewhere around the year 2058, when I’m 83 years old, I could come back to Cape Verde, sleep on the beach, and greet 20 turtles that I had a hand in saving. (That’s the 4 from this year’s crop that we set loose in the ocean yesterday, plus their 16 surviving girl children.) 20 turtles in 2 generations. 80 in three generations. 320 in four generations. And so on and so on until, by the time my grandkids are Peace Corps volunteers in Cape Verde, there’ll be a turtle epidemic and we’ll necessarily be back to the days of eating turtle soup, making art from their shells, and home made viagra from their little balls.

Of course I realize that this is wishful thinking and unfortunately, I’m absolute crap at math...and there may very well be some horrendously grievous errors in my math logic. If you’re coming up with a smaller number, I would interject that in reality, after 2033, when the batch set loose yesterday have reached breeding age, they will potentially be producing 4 more egg producers each YEAR, not each generation, so the possibility exists that my estimates are actually quite low. (Like I said, I’m crap at math and logic, so maybe I’m wrong.) But if you still didn’t agree with me, even after all that, I might argue that the turtle fort, the environmental lessons and beach clean-ups, the meet and greet between the kids and the turtle hatchlings, and the general lesson we’re trying to teach to Cape Verdians about respecting, honoring and cherishing the Santo Antao sea turtles as a valuable natural resource and integral part of their cultural heritage might...just might, go towards saving a few more of the little green bastards each year, and maybe that downward sloping curve which represents the number of sea turtles in the wild, will level out and, eventually, turn the frown upside down. In any event, I feel like we’ve done a good and worthy thing here over the past year, and that makes me feel good.

Enough already...enjoy the pictures!

Turlte Beach

If you look just beyond the folks in this pic, you can see the lake covering the area of the beach where the eggs were originally laid.

Elder Talkin' Bout Turtles

Little Green Bastards

Watching the turtles Swim Away

The Boys at the beach for Turtle Day

The Gals at the Beach for Turtle Day

Friday, October 10, 2008

Me and A Baby Sea Turtle

This little bastard is about 7 hours old. A new batch was born just the other night, and we repeated last year´s Dia de Torturuginha in Cruzinha activity. I´ll put up a separate post and some more pics as soon as I can.

The Hike Down Through Paul

This is the view of the trail that takes you down from the crater (At the top of my island) through to the valley of Paul. About a three hour hike, STRAIGHT DOWN.

The Current View From My Balcony

Up the Valley From CDI

The rains have turned everything GREEN!!

View of Cha dÍgreja from the Ridge

Food Market in Mindelo

Volcano Crater in Paul, Santo Antao

This is the crater at the top of my island.

Still Kickin!

So it´s been a hell of a good long while since I put anything up on this page, but not to worry, Iºm still alive and kicking, and have even managed top get rid of the foot worms. There´s way too much in the last month or so to try to summarize everything, and Iºm paying out the wazoo for internet right now, so Iºll be real brief.

I did make it to help train the new volunteers oin Praia...barely. The night BEFORE I was supposed to leave, I woke to the sounds of rain and knocking on my door to find Banana, a driver from my town, on my doorstep. He had come at 3AM to my house to tell me that if I intended to gert out of Cha dÍgreja anytime in the next few WEEKS, IU needed to leave right that instant, as the rains were growing heavier and, according to him, the road was likely to be washed completely away. So, I left in a hurry and spent the night in Garça, sleeping in his van.

Then on to Praia for the PST training. The new group of volunteers was a good one, lots of enthusiasm and idealism. PC put me up in a great hotel with AC, hot water, pretty receptionists, clean sheets every day, and free breakfast every morning. Three weeks of spectacular comfort, with the exception of the nasty oozing, puss filled lacerations that were growing on my feet. (Those seem tyo be all better now Mom.)

At the end of PST, PC had me escort the new volunteers who are posted on my island and on Sao Vicente to their houses and make sure they all got settled in OK, only to have me returnming all the way to Preaia to do MY OWN training just 4 days later. Lotsa travelling. LOTSA travelling.

WhenI tried to get to Cha dÍgreja, I only made it to Garça, the town about an hour´s walk up the mountain from my vilage. After that, the road was, true to Banana´s word, completely in , if there had never ever been a road there. A volcano might as well have errupted there. The rains that were falling three weeks before continued to fall for four days, and all of that water formed a confluence just above Cha dÍgreja, and ran like a herd of buffallo strait to the sea...taking the road to my town, and the power lines, with it. So, I put my enormous bag (I had three weeks of clothes with me, plus a million other things that PC gave me to deliver to the other V´s on my island) on top of my head and sdtarted what turned out to be a three hour walk through a fairly rushing river (water was up to my knees) that eventually turned into a two foot thick soup of mud, gravel rocks and slop. In my town (remember they had already gone three weeks with no power and no road to connect them to the outside world) there was no chicken, no milk, no rice, no flour, no veggies (there usually aren´t)...basically the shelves of the three mini markets in my town were completely bare. I lived off PBJ sandwhiches and water. There were people praying daily in the church for the kamera to come fix the road and the power before things got REALLY bad.

So I stayed for 3 days, then turnmed around and trekked back up the ribeira through the mud and the muck and the running water (which had receeded to about 8 inches deep) and was happy top find a giant bulldozer shoving rocks and boulders into the ribeira to divert the water so that they could try to repair the road.

Back in PRaia for three days of training. Then back to my town. (That´s three cars, two hiaces, one boat, one plane, three taxis and a three hour walk, each way, twice in one month. I´m TIRED.)

Getting back to Cha d´Igreja, the road was STILL not done, and there was still no power. A group of six women had hiked 6 hours over the mountain to Povoçon and six hours back to buy 20 Kg bags of rice, onions, and dried milk. They sold all of it on the street in less than an hour.

Anyway, as of two days ago the road is passable (but by no means good, or even safe for the cars to go on, as the driversw make everybody get out at one point where the slope is tilted and the hiaces are dangerously close to tipping over into the ribeira) but there is still no power. Rumors are going around that it´ll ber back on this week. We´ll see.

All that to say that Iºve been pretty busy and am ready for a nice rest. I´ve got lots of good stories about some other little adventures over the past month and Iºll get to them as soon as electricity permits. For now, please enjoy a few pictures that I´ve taken since last we spoke.

ALSO, I MUST mention that a HUMONGOUS care package arrived from the Culprits, which will require an blog entry all its own. Until Iºm able to post that, please accept my most sincere made all the trials of the previous minth well worth it. I miss everyone and expect a ton of e-mails in the next few days with updates on everyone at home.

Take Care,

LUV, Caley