Sunday, April 26, 2009

Me and Neli

This was taken by Leo...who's 5. Pretty good!

Logoa 2


Almost at the top of the highest point in Santo Antao.

Cabrito 1

So it turns out that it's bad to be born a boy if you're a goat in Cape Verde. Since you can't produce milk, and you can't produce more goats, you're basically screwed from the get go. Accordingly, this cute little guy...

Cabrito 2 the hands of this cute girl...

Cabrito 3

...became this little guy. We grilled him up later that evening and he was DELICIOUS!!!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Boardwalk in Paul

...cobbles instead of boards.

Mar e Baixo

So its just about summer time again, which means the little rowboat fishing vessels can start going out again, after being beached for most of the past 4 or 5 months.

Black Saw

So here is a picture of the ancient abandoned leper colony at Serranegra..."Blacksaw."


Sunday, April 12, 2009

Cutie From Cruzinha

Almost Abandoned Village

Still one family living here...even though it's a two hour hike to the nearest village with running water or electricity.

Long Walk Home

This is the halfway point along the almost-5-hour hike from Ponto do sol to my village.

Heavy Load

And you thought YOU had a hard day at work...

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Lavinha and her new Friend!

Depressing Update

So it was brought to my attention that I haven't written anything of substance in quite some time. Mostly because there hasn't been anything big or of real interest going on recently, just lots of little things. And also because most of those little things are sorta depressing. For those of you who are especially bored, feel free to read on...

The local association that I work with is going through a regime change and has pretty much closed it's doors until May, when the newly elected leader, Beti, will "take office." At our yearly association assembly, which drew a crowd of 50 (and that really is a crowd in this neck of the woods) Beti read Pedro the riot act, saying that since Pedro took office almost three years ago, the association hasn't succeeded in getting nary a penny, nor a single day of work out of the kamera, which isn't exactly true, but close enough. Remember that since the national government is SO inept (they are absolutely non-existent this far from Praia), its become the job of the local associations to beg and plead with the kameras for help and work and roads and jobs and everything else. It's true that Pedro isn't the most dynamic guy in the village, but it's not all his fault. Consider in the last month or two, we (as an association) have sent 6 letters to the kamera (and other organizations) asking for help with building 4 latrines for houses that don't have bathrooms or running water in them, money to send a group of six girls to a women's conference in Sao Vicente, a projector to show some AIDS awareness films in the plaza, money to help a woman who is slowly going blind from cataracts get lasic surgery, a truck to haul away to giant garbage container that has been sitting full almost since the day I got to Txangreja, and to help defer school transportation costs for the night school girls . In a stunning display of ineptitude and obscenely poor use of resources, the kamera decided to...expand our dirt soccer field. They actually sent a bulldozer here from Ponto do Sol (that trip alone probably took three days), right along our pitiful excuse of a "road" (which will undoubtedly wash out during the next rains and again strand the town for weeks without food or supplies or transportation) past town down near the shore to our soccer field. There it spent 10 days moving dirt around to accomplish nothing more than to add about 1 meter of dirt and rocks along one side of the "field." There were apparently unprepared to deal with the huge boulder that was along that side of the field, which previously served as a convenient place to watch the games from the sidelines, but which now resides right in the playing area. (See picture below.)

This is exactly the sort of asinine governing that is typical of this Ribeira, if not the entire island. Its up there with paying for three day festivals with bands brought in from Brazil and Portugal rather than three day seminars on domestic violence or alcoholism, buying new soccer cleats and jerseys for all the men's soccer teams in the Ribeira rather than new school uniforms or supplies for the boys AND GIRLS that need them, burning half an island's worth of trash every couple of months in one of the most popular tourist areas on the island rather than using it to fill some of the gaping holes gouged out of the bottom of the Ribeira's by the sand company. You could really go on for a week describing all of the bad decisions that the kamera makes and about two seconds discussing the good ones. But I'm just ranting.

Another thing that got me down recently was a fight in town. Other than the occasional signs of domestic abuse I see on the faces of some of the women and kids in town, I've seen nothing of violence or meanness since coming here. That changed a week ago when 2 guys got in a fight which was quickly ended when one guy literally caved the side of the other guy's face in with a huge rock. I saw it happen, heard the sickening crunch of bones. The injured guy is still in the hospital and if he lives it'll be a long time before he's eating solid foods or seeing out of his left eye. Despite police. Not that day, and not since. If you ask why not, you're told n'e nada ver d'nigem. (It's nobody's business.) It's terrible.

Finally, on the depressing side, is the issue of the night school girls that I mentioned earlier. In a weird way it's an extension of the American financial crisis. Vla is a rich Txangrejan who owns the one school bus that services Txangreja, and two of the hiace of which takes a group of 8 girls to night school in Povoçon (think of it as community college.) Until recently, Vla was living near Boston and working at a GM plant making good money. (All three cars, his mini-market and the local bar...all paid for by his GM salary.) That plant closed and he's been forced to come home. His first act upon arriving was to tell the night school girls that they were shit out of luck. For the past 6 months they've been paying 3000/month in tuition, and 3500/month to Vla's driver to take them back and forth to Povoçon (45 minutes away) every night. (Keep in mind that Beni makes less than 8000/month as a teacher, and that's considered a "good paying job.") Anyway, 2 of the girls dropped out and now Vla says it's not worth the trouble to take the other 6, unless they want to make up the difference. 2 months short of graduation, and now all the money they've spent thus far in the school year is wasted. It's EXACTLY the type of thing that makes development in a community like this so difficult. All that money saved or borrowed and invested in a worthwhile, potentially lucrative goal....a better education...and now it's been for nothing...because a greedy American - Cape Verdian wants apparently needs his 7000 escudos more than the girls need to get to school. It's really depressing, and exactly the type of thing that makes me want to come home in September rather than stay an extra year. (I've done the math on fuel, driver salary, wear and tear etc. by the way, to try to look at it from his point of view, and any way you slice it, he's raking them over the coals and making a very hefty profit. But I'm just ranting.

On the good side, we've just started the computer literacy lessons in town. I've spent much of the last 2 months helping 2 fairly computer-savvy guys from town plan for, prepare and implement a 2 month computer seminar. I gave them the lesson plans, student handbooks, practice exercises, and tests, and worked with them on teaching techniques, and how to be a better instructor. 35 students, 5 computers. It's tough, but people are excited and its nice that there is an activity going on again in town. So far things are going well, with only the problem of frequent and random power outages driving me crazy.

So that should bring you up to speed.

What's new in the Real World?

Worst Idea Ever?

It's a small pic, but I think you can make out the huge boulder that is now sitting in what should be the corner-kick area. 10 days of work, and all the trouble of a bulldozer sent to our add 1 meter width to our dirt pitch.

Click HERE!!!

Wanna test your mettle as a teacher? Try explaining the concept of a "right click" to someone who's never touched a computer before in their a foreign language.

Computer are Fun!