Tuesday, December 16, 2008
An update on the boat website that my dad and his friend Rob are working on http://theonrust.com/Welcome.html
The theme this week is going to be awkward news in chronological order.
Cathryn and I decided to be HUGE dorks and tour the US Navy ship in town last week. Just slightly awkward when we were shown the cabins and a half-asleep sailor walks out of a room in his boxers. Sorry. I'm not so sorry about "liberating" some real soy sauce. Now that made the whole experience worth every awkward bit. It was also exciting to talk and hang out with Americans again, even for a couple nights. On a side not the ship is doing a humanitarian tour through Africa. They do volunteer projects and distribute supplies. Way to go Navy!
Awkward moment number two... One night when I was supposed to meet up with a few of the sailors for their last night I realized I had accidently given them my wrong number. Giving the wrong cell number, even unintentionally isn't so much awkward as guilt trip inducing. Anyways, since I felt bad about my inability to remember the order of seven digits, I went to the bar I had mentioned to them. Alone. Walked in and it was me and the band. Amazing. Awkward, but a good lesson on how to be independent.
Awkward moment number three... On Saturday I went to a birthday party. The living room was basically turned into a full blown disco, but with lights. Oh that's not the awkward part. There is a song here called Po mo on the cho (translates to put your hands on the floor), basically you put your hands on the floor and butt dance it. Luckily at the time I was busy being spit up on by a really cute little baby, so I was able to restrain myself from dancing to that one. Regardless, you better believe that I did dance to Love is Gone with a 10 year old, while also holding the little baby. The fact that those moments were so much awkward, but "this is my life?" moments.
Awkward moment number four... In other news of how amazingly awkward my life is I took the bus out to visit a primary school that a student teaches at. I finally realized the school may not be marked and of course when I asked someone it was right across the street. Amazing, but not so much as teaching a group of kids "If you are happy and you know it". For those of you that have heard me sing, you know that my singing in itself is awkward!
Other than that it's been little tidbits of awkwardness here and there. Like running into the guy that once told me that he's single, I'm single, we both need sex, can I get your number? - Just like that. One sentence. Very casual. Or walking around with a half eaten swarma in my pocket. Or cooking holiday treats and then second guessing whether or not I have the balls to deliver them to the neighbors. Good times.
I'm waiting to see if I am going to S. Nicolau for X-Mas. I've tried to get a ticket for the past three weeks, but keep receiving a "mais tarde" response - a.k.a. come back later. So, to borrow from a favorite CV phrase, you will hear from me "mais tarde". In the meantime, have some fun during the holidays, be safe, be merry, I miss you all.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
I started Creole lessons with a co-worker. If Portuguese is drunk Spanish, than Creole is drunk Spanish spoken by a person who loves to abbreviate. Ridic.
I have been cooking up a storm. I can now add crepes and just about anything apple to the list.
My classes are going well. Check out this little diddy that I did with my students during our “Special Needs” class.
We pegin our qrib eq a faziliar blace, a poqy like yours enq zine. Iq conquains a hunqraq qrillion calls qheq work qogaqhys py qasign. En wiqhin each one of qhese zany calls, each one qheq hes QNA. Qhe QNA coqe is axecqly qhe saze, a zess broquceq rasuze. Now qhink apouq qhe way you woulq qhink i qhose calls wyse qhe calls in your prain.
q = d or t
z = m
p = b b = p
ys = er
a (bat) = e (pet) e (pet) = a (bat)
Kind of makes you stop and think, right?
I’m currently reading Mountains beyond Mountains. But I just bought two books. One a story in Portuguese and the other poems in Creole. It’ll probably take me forever to read either.
I tried to get a ticket to S. Nicolau for the X-Mas break but of course the boat only leaves one morning a week (and I have a night class), so I have to wait to see if they come up with more for the holidays. Mais tarde = later.
The town has hung up Christmas decorations and began to play Christmas music in the big market. This started promptly on December 1st. “You’re killing Christmas” is being bought to whole new levels. They apparently play Chinese Christmas songs in the all the stores (loja). A volunteer from S. Antao does a killer impersonation so I can't wait to hear the real deal.
Kind of random, but given that on any given T-Day I'm not sure who is more stuffed, the turkey or yours truly, I thought it fit.
I am a self-proclaimed BBC addict. On that note, I have to extend a round of internet applause to Jo, my favorite Googlite for introducing me to the ‘Reader.’ It’s already changed my life. Despite the somewhat creepy Farenheit 451 implications, it’s pretty amazing. Without this nifty little function, I probably would have never seen BBC’s article: Obesity 'programmed before birth'. Apparently our Mommy’s diets in pregnancy may have had a ‘lasting impact.’ Namely, eating a high-fat diet in pregnancy may cause changes in the fetal brain that lead to over-eating and obesity early in life, research suggests. It’s a shame Dad’s metabolism didn’t continue to carry me through past college. It looks like considering my Mom’s sweet tooth, I was doomed even before I had my first solid meal. So instead of blaming myself for my inability to deny myself any tasty treat that I care for, I can now transfer the blame from myself to my Mom. Thank you, BBC.
Just kidding. Let the record show that my mom used to mash up real baby food. She only drank on occasion when she was preggers. I try (and usually fail) to be healthy, and take full responsibility for my eating habits. They are not a reflection of the United States Government or Peace Corps policy. It is solely a reflection on my own cravings and whims.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Since the whole family is away on vacation, and I will miss the e-mails and phone calls in the meantime, I feel the need to post some random tidbits. If it's anything like the last vacation I missed, I'm sure I'll be hearing plenty.
During one recent conversation my Mom asked me about my 'dating' life (in reality more like the lack of...). Regardless, her advice to me was to 'just remember, don't bring home any souvenirs'. It’s only a little disarming when your Mom tells you not to get pregnant. Aside from the massive amounts of random and unprotected sex that I’ve been having, I’m pretty sure that getting knocked up is not something I’ll be worrying about anytime soon.
In another phone conversation she started telling me about her new bestie that works at the Post Office. At some point she dropped the fact that she thinks he is from Nairobi because that's part of his screen-name. Aside from being amazed she knows what a screen-name is, when I asked why she had his screen-name. Apparently he is interested in Cape Verde and would like to 'correspond' with me. Of course this leads to the usual, “he seems nice and safe, but then maybe I just gave your information to someone who may be POSTAL”... - oh my Mom and her ability to crack herself up.
And just because she told me this three times now, I feel I should commemorate it on the blog. Apparently our little pissy paws is quite the handsome dog. The groomer, vet, and a couple of other people were all raving about how cute Mr. Riley is. So now instead of being called "little shit" or "pissy paws", he's now been promoted to "come on good lookin'". I should mention that "little shit" in my family is generally accepted as a term of endearment. I also feel the need to make it known that we all adored Riley well before people complimented him on his good looks.
In other family news, my Dad and his friend Rob have been volunteering to help restore the oldest ship that was made in New York. It’ll sail the Hudson River for the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson's journey up the river. Sounds awesome, and knowing what my Dad is capable of I wanted to see pictures. My Dad told me they have some posted online at onrust.orgonrust.org. I go to check it out, and the website is for some foreign band. Nothing against foreign bands, but I was expecting something a little more along the nautical lines. I tried unsuccessfully to google it, but couldn't figure out if he means the Half Moon, or some other ship. I'll keep you posted once I figure this out. My Dad did tell me that while they were repairing one of the beams he wrote Kathy and Jim in a heart, “you know, my trademark”. It’s so cute I almost vomited in my mouth.
I definitely get hit by the sodade on occasion (how could I not), but ...
“Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.” - Kurt Vonnegut
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Seeing Pink - This building is understandably referred to as the ‘Pink Palace’. I've
heard it also called the Presidential Palace and the old Camara. Either way it looks Barbie's Mansion.
Over by the water there is a garden path that leads to Flostel - the best pizza/schwarma joint on the island.
The next picture is the Avenue with the Camara. This block is the Mindelo equivalent of Fifth Ave. Very upscale little boutiques and stores. Cafe Mindelo complements the sentiment by serving as a very Euro and cute restaurant on the corner.
The picture of the waterfront is the closest equivalent of the port looking in that I could get.
As we continue the tour I'd like to remind passengers to keep all hands and heads inside the vehicle.
I finally got around to taking some pics on my early morning two hour trek over the weekend.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Monday, November 3, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
Quick update: On the day that I finally met my students I found out that my fifth year class is going to be a teaching methodologies course. Not an ideal start to a school year, but it's all good. I am not teaching teaching Tech. English. As for the pictures - The yellow building is what I originally thought was UNI-CV/ISE (after almost being whored out to the secondary schools, let's just say it's not), the middle picture is the plaza in front of the schools, and the white building/red gate - I'm just going to go ahead and assume you can read the writing on the wall. God I kill myself.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Today I found out that instead of teaching the Technical English, I'll have a class here for the fifth year students. I'm not really sure if it's a class or a thesis advisory, but I guess I'll figure that all out soon enough. It's kind of a relief. I felt like I hit a bit of a stress wall yesterday. I think it was a combo of language frustration, homesickness, and just plain old nerves. Today has been a nice return to calm. No complaints though. One sort of down day out of as many as I've been here isn't all that bad.
Not much had changed over the past week or two, until the end of this week.
I had been working pretty hard to try to organize information and plan for the courses I was originally going to be teaching. I tend to be a little OCD organized when it comes to work, so I was basically trying to prep for the entire semester. I knew it was silly, but I figured even if plans change, the information could still be useful. I'm thinking that there can be a way to electronically organize course outlines and info to make it more accessible to future teachers. Above all the practical reasons to plan, I was definitely super energized by the learning process in general. (Glasses are not the only dork feature that I rock) Things were going pretty well, and my course plans were starting to fall into place. I was embracing the ambiguity and really trying to just be as flex as possible. Maybe I'm a little crazy, but the freedom in figuring out how to structure classes and what information would be included, while at times is overwhelming, is also extremely gratifying. It's exciting to sift through the onslaught of information to try to make a cohesive plan.
Anyways, getting closer to now... During the middle of last week, I was told that the courses may change. I might be teaching Technical English. I can roll with the punches (teaching at Heritage was good preparation for that), so I just started to plan one more. This past Friday I got to work and was told that we had a morning meeting at ISECMAR. I had no clue what or where this was. Turns out it is the science and engineering campus in Ribero Joao, outside of the city. We all went to the meeting and it was the first time I realized how large the faculty here is. For the past month it's been myself, Dora (the Director), Eliza, Marina, and Olavo. It was almost shocking. A month in and I still had no clue. Yikes. I didn't understand most of the meeting, but I understood some of the big picture ideas about the university merger.
On Friday afternoon we had another meeting at our campus at 3 o'clock. At this point I was starting to get a little worried. Classes are to start on Monday and none of us have our class assignments or schedule. We all met in the library, and once again there were more people than I had expected. Most of the people I had met, but only briefly, and without a sense of what their role here was. To say I was feeling a little overwhelmed and foolish would probably be a little bit of an understatement. Everything I had planned for was totally wrong or uncertain. I knew this was a possibility, but I was also really disappointed in myself for not knowing the language or my co-workers better after being here for almost a month.
Looking back, I realize that it works both ways. Yes, I've been here a month, but whether that is a long or short period of time is debatable. I don't regret how I've spent my time, and if anything I'm just more motivated to try again to find a language tutor. I can't say all that much to my co-workers yet, but they have been very understanding and friendly. I can't wait for the day that I can shoot the sh*t with them, but I'm trying to be patient at the same time. The only thing I know how to do is to work hard in the meantime. I don't need for my work to be appreciated, but I hope that I can at least convey that I take my responsibilities seriously and I'm invested. I hate to assume anything, but I think most teachers can understand that.
On Friday after the meeting, we found out our class schedules. There are six of us in the department. Three teach at ISECMAR and myself and two others teach at the ISE campus. I am going to teach Oral and Written Comprehension and Technical English for Engineering. The second course I'll teach at the other campus. I'll also be working with the fifth year students to help them write their monographias or thesis papers.
This weekend I took it easy. It's crazy that I've been working pretty non-stop and now that I finally know what I'm teaching, I am stopping to relax a little. Maybe I need to refocus and regroup, I don't know. For now I feel pretty calm and at ease. We went to the beach today with a guest that we are hosting. We were pretty much assaulted by the sand. Regardless, it was sunny and warm so the water was nice. I am pretty sure I'll be rinsing sand out of my hair for a few days.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
The following might be slightly offensive to some. Posting a forwarded e-mail would usually be enough to offend myself, but I can't resist. What a rant. Crazy.
Dear Red States...
We've decided we're leaving. We intend to form our own country, and we're taking the other Blue States with us.
In case you aren't aware, that includes Hawaii, Oregon,Washington, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois and all the Northeast. We believe this split will be beneficial to the nation, and especially to the people of the new country of New California.
To sum up briefly: You get Texas, Oklahoma and all the slave states.
We get stem cell research and the best beaches.
We get the Statue of Liberty. You get Dollywood. We get Intel and Microsoft. You get WorldCom...or what's left
We get Harvard. You get Ole' Miss.
We get 85 percent of America's venture capital and entrepreneurs. You get Alabama.
We get two-thirds of the tax revenue, you get to make the red states pay their fair share.
Since our aggregate divorce rate is 22 percent lower than the Christian Coalition's, we get a bunch of happy families. You get a bunch of single moms.
Please be aware that Nuevo California will be pro-choice and anti-war, and we're going to want all our citizens back from Iraq at once. If you need people to fight, ask your evangelicals. They have kids they're apparently willing to send to their deaths for no purpose, and they don't care if you don't show pictures of their children's caskets coming home. We do wish you success in Iraq, and hope that the WMDs turn up, but we're not willing to spend our resources in Bush's Quagmire.
With the Blue States in hand, we will have firm control of 80 percent of the country's fresh water, more than 90 percent of the pineapple and lettuce, 92 percent of the nation's fresh fruit, 95 percent of America's quality wines (you can serve French wines at state dinners) 90 percent of all cheese, 90 percent of the high tech industry, most of the U.S. low-sulfur coal, all living redwoods, sequoias and condors, all the Ivy and Seven Sister schools, plus Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Cal Tech and MIT (AND BC.)
With the Red States, on the other hand, you will have to cope with 88 percent of all obese Americans (and their projected health care costs), 92 percent of all U.S. mosquitoes, nearly 100 percent of the tornadoes, 90 percent of the hurricanes, 99 percent of all Southern Baptists, virtually 100 percent of all televangelists, Rush Limbaugh, Bob Jones University, Clemson and the University of Georgia.
We get Hollywood and Yosemite, thank you. Additionally, 38 percent of those in the Red states believe Jonah was actually swallowed by a whale, 62 percent believe life is sacred unless we're discussing the death penalty or gun laws, 44 percent say that evolution is only a theory, 53 percent that Saddam was involved in 9/11 and 61 percent of you crazy b*****ds believe you are people with higher morals then we lefties.
By the way, we're taking the good pot, too. You can have that dirt weed they grow in Mexico.
TOP FIVE QUOTES OF PST
1. " Well what did they expect?" Joe's reaction to the Rape video
2. "Everyone has a little malaria."
3. "Everyone in the Ukraine has sex. One volunteer was riding on a train..." followed a few weeks later by a discussion that referenced rainbow parties.
4. "When the sun sets in Cape Verde, it gets dark." - Oh Hilario.
5. "You smell like malaria." - Brett Beach
TOP FIVE HANKSTER QUOTES
1. "You are going to be on an island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean." (As long as we've known Hank, we've been on an island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean)
2. "If it happens once, we can forgive you. Twice it's a one-way ticket on TACV"
3. "If I could just interrupt with a quick commercial."
4. "You have some excellent resources here, world class...All you have to do is to open your toolbox"
5. "I've worked in 30 countries over the past 28 years"
TOP FIVE VERNAZA QUOTES
1. "What are you afraid of about Cape Verde?" "I'm afraid of pirates."
2. "Well it's hard for her to say with..." - Vernaza explaining why it might be hard to know if she is only 14... I removed the more obscene portion, but I'm sure you can use your imagination. Just realize this is being censured by someone who normally doesn't have all that much of a filter. It was bad. It was also so funny the Bretts and I all nearly spit out our fat burgers.
5. "Eu gostaria mulheres de noite" - Even though Alan technically said it, the whole conversation leading up to was Andrew.
School starts next week, but I've been going pretty much every day now for two weeks. I'm definitely not winning anyone over with my poor attempts at Portuguese and Creole, but little by little I'm sure I'll start making sense to someone. I found a language partner the first week here, but I'm not sure if that's working out all that well. I think my roommate and I inadvertantly ended up on a double date Saturday night. I'm new here and all but I think dinner followed by ice-cream and hanging out in the central square is pretty much a date. My former language partner and his friend tried to pay and we put an end to that. I have a feeling it's going to take some time to meet some friends here. The good news is we are getting to know the ladies that work in the local fruit shop, and one of them wants to learn English and can practice Creole with us. I've been experimenting with the cooking here, which makes me wish I knew more about cooking fish. They have tons of fresh fish, but I don't have a clue how to prepare a whole fish. I might take some time this weekend to start experimenting. That or I'm going to figure out how to use the oven. We know how to light the burners, but couldn't quite figure out the stove. Nothing like that to make you feel slightly moronic. It's been raining here which is an anomoly. The streets all flooded the other day. Rain isn't as welcome here as it was on Santiago when we lived with farmers.
The Creole here is completely different than down south, so I'm definitely freaked out by the language barrier. Until I learn some of that I guess I'll focus mostly on my broken Portuguese. I went to my job (a whole block away from my apartment) where I'm pretty sure I've already made a stellar impression. When I first went into the building I was told they needed an English teacher in 5 of the high schools. Huh?! Turned out I walked into the wrong building and the university was behind it. It's really small, but the people are nice. They have first, second, and fifth year students there. First and second year they focus on language classes and then fifth year they focus on their student teaching and thesis. I thought I'd be teaching teaching methodology, but since that happens 3rd and 4th year, guess not. I'm teaching English Lit, English Language Practice and Communication, Cultural Lit of Eng. Speaking Cultures and PHONETICS and PHONOLOGY. Eek. I'm excited about the English Lit and Practice, but I'm beyond nervous about the Phonetics. I keep reminding myself that if they had someone else to do the job I wouldn't be here, but it's hard not to feel a little over my head. I plan on spending a lot of time next week figuring out what resources we have to work with and then trying to form some semblance of a course around that.
Another reason to be happy to here came courtesy of my favorite Connecticut teacher: Here's a funny story for you though. Today I had a student hand me a plastic baggie. I looked down and there was something kind of gray in there. It didn't feel like coins, but I assumed it was milk money. Well I went to grab the baggy later on to record the money. Low and behold it was a small dead mouse. Seriously. I was shocked. I asked the kid if it was to share with the class. She told me it was a present in case I needed it for science. WHAT? Weird.
It's crazy how fast you can adapt to some changes. Water is the biggest challenge here. It's so expensive and so limited that you find 50 ways to save water. That includes standing in a bucket while showering and then using that water to flush the toilet. Doing dishes is pretty much the same. The save the water game is actually kind of fun though. I feel like I should share some advice I received in an e-mail the other week: " Oh, and there's a saying that goes, "Save water, shower with a buddy." I can assure you that that does not work, and you use more water whilst showering in pairs. Keep that in mind." Everything here is about downsizing. How can I create as little garbage as possible? How can I reuse the empty peanut butter jar? Cup? Bowl? Yesterday I handwashed my clothes, hung new clotheslines, and then used the water to mop our balcony. If nothing else I now know how to wash my own clothes by hand. It's an all day activity that doubles as a workout. I also got into the mayo and ketchup on pretty much anything habit. During training we would go and get "dirty burgers" as a treat. Since there was all that much meat on it they would throw an egg, ham, mayo, and ketchup in between the buns. Incredible. I might weigh approximately 500 pounds by the time I get back home. They'll have to forklift me out of this place. I also am addicted to their version of Kool-Aid. I barely know how to light the range on my stove, but food is already ruling the roost here.
I moved to Mindelo and training is officially over. I didn't have much to do this first week here, so I've just tried to get orientated and settled in. We lucked out in that most of what we need was in the apartment already.
I'm also the "safety warden" for my island (there's only two of us here) so we even have a satellite phone (which is funny because it looks like a Zach Morris cell) and an extra medkit. Don't be too jealous that I have two years worth of medical tape and pepto. They actually sent my roommate and I with extra bottles of sunscreen because we are by far the two palest people out of our group.
The apartment is incredible. It overlooks the port and the city. Everyday I've been walking around. I even found a language exchange partner. I also now know where a good restaurant, bar, and free internet is. All in all it's been a good week.
I've also heard from a few of the other volunteers and it seems like everyone is pretty excited to be settling in. It's kinds of a relief that even though it'll be hard to keep in touch with people, the effort is there.
My Address here if you want to send along some snail mail is:
Mindelo, S. Vicente
And in response to the following Mom inquiry:
"the post office said one woman who sent packages to cameron africa wrote in red and put voodoo messages on package so it would get there ok since natives are very superstitious. is that true and if so tell me what to write.???!!!!"
No. Do not write in red. Do not cover anything in voodoo messages. It's a Catholic Country. They might not appreciate that.
A brief blip about my new home... Mindelo, is a port city of Cape Verde in the northern part of the island of Sao Vicente. It has a population of about 70,000 and is the second largest city in Cape Verde after Praia. The city is home to 96% of the entire island's population. Mindelo is considered as the cultural capital of Cape Verde. The town is surrounded by deforested mountains. Mindelo's deep-water port, Porto Grande, is connected to Mindelo Bay, an underwater volcanic crater, and is used for cruise ships and other commercial traffic.
Saying goodbye is just never easy. Saying goodbye to the Tugs was brutal. She was super supportive and caring. As much of an adjustment it was to give up my independence and privacy, Tuga was pretty much the ultimo.
It was also hard to say goodbye to the other volunteers. What am I going to do without people like Brett and Andrew to say the most inappropriate and offhanded comments possible? I loved that training was so much fun, and I know it was the people I was with more than anything. I have a feeling I'll be racking up the saldos trying to stay in touch.
The volunteers threw us a going away party. The only thing that could have made the night better was if all the trainees were there. Unfortunately the Santiago crew had to go to site right away. What a night. I couldn't stop dancing. I'm pretty sure I should be highly embarrassed and blush for eternity, but no way in hell.
It's about to be Mindelo time!!!
Nelson and the Chan da Tanque crew invited the Education volunteers over for dinner and drinks to celebrate the end of model school. We ended up having to stay in the "city" pretty late so we decided to kill some time at Bar Z's. Shocker. Brian and David, two going on second year, volunteers ended up coming out also. We had meant to leave at 7, but ended up not leaving until closer to 8. Falling right into the laid back culture that Cabo Verde represents. After nearly being stranded in Assomada since the Hiace stops around 7, we ended up hitching a ride on the back of a water truck. I could not stop laughing the whole way. Andrew, Brett, and Adeyemi standing on the back of the truck, all of us holding on for dear life. And that was just the beginning of the night. Dinner was really fun. Who are we? Sitting around eating food, drinking wine, and just passeaing (definitely not spelled correctly). I definitely sat and talked to Nelson's "Mom" and "brother" for about an hour while just about everyone else was up on the roof. It was really fulfilling to be able to somewhat hold a conversation in Portuguese.
In response to Mike's question, "So tell me, how hairy are your pits?" I feel I should let you all know, so you can rest easy, as of now I'm still keeping em' smooth and clean shaven.