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. 

Blogs will probably be a little less wordy from here on in, unless something tickles my fancy and I feel compelled to share it with all.  

Thanks for the package Mom! It did finally get here, and the candy is AMAZING. Definitely hit the sweet spot.  

"I love how we don't even have to say out loud that I'm your favorite child."

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


The title for this entry is a line from the song that has become our apartment anthem.  It's on just about any playlist that we listen to while hanging around the apartment.  It's also usually playing when we have our dinner and wine.  Don't worry I don't plan on becoming a wino.  Now that there is time to cook every meal, it's just nice to have a glass on occasion with dinner.  Unfortunately we will not become wine conniesseurs while living here.  The wine here is pretty much the equivalent of 2 buck chuck, just Cape Verde style.  Eventually we'll figure out the least offensive ones.  

The need to cook some pizza finally gave me the courage to figure out how to light the oven.  Call me crazy, but the thought of shoving a burning match into a hole that is leaking gas just wasn't all that enticing.  So much less dramatic in reality.  Definitely worth it.  Now that we actually managed to figure out the stove, we've also been doing a lot of experimenting with foods.  I still haven't tried to cook a whole fish, but in time.  I'm determined.  Especially after all the e-mails.  Who knew talking about how to cook fish could be so funny?!  For now I'm just enjoying having the time to cook.  

Last week I accidently left the burner on after breakfast one morning.  Yikes.  I now check the knobs like a fiend.  I've done plenty of stupid things in my lifetime, but that was a first.  I told my Mom about it and got this in response...
hi lindsay, read your email. thank god noone lit a match. big explosion, big. be more careful please even in lighting could lose hair and eyebrows. you never want to leave gas on long before lighting as it could build up and sounds intersting your  teaching and all.

You have to love e-mails from home.  She's going to kill me when she sees it. Hi Mom.  I love you.  Miss you.  

On that note.  I'm done with the random update.  I'll just leave you all with just one more Mom e-mail tidbit. Once you get a taste...  trust me, phone calls are even better.    

now i'm on cap locks off.


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.

Peace out,

Blue States



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


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" 


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. 

3.  "BANGIN!"

4.  "GROSS!"

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.  

September 30th - "FIRST IMPRESSIONS"

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. 

September 25th - "WATERFIGHT"

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. 

September 25th - "IT'S BEEN ONE WEEK"

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:

Lindsay Williamson

C.P. 1120 

Mindelo, S. Vicente

Cape Verde

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.

September 21st - "WATER IS LIFE"

September 21st - "IF I COULD JUST"

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!!!

September 18th - "OPEN ROAD"

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.


September 13th - "NOT A RAINBOW SHOWER."

Today we went out to Ribera de Barca a.k.a. "Porto".  We left in the morning from the Plaza.  Brett and I thought it might be nice to bring a bottle of wine, but couldn't pass up the chance to bring grog that was sold in a beer bottle for a cool 100 escudos.  I didn't realize what a trek the SED's have to get to Assomada.  It was really crazy how good the timing worked out in that as we were riding along we ended up coincidentally picking up all of the other volunteers that were going.   We were lucky enough to have Chase as our guide, because there was no way we would have found the waterfall otherwise.  I for one didn't realize how far from town it was.  The waterfall was incredible.  Walking underneath it was like taking a shower.  At least it was the closest most of us have come to a real shower in a very long time.  The walk to and from the waterfall was equally amazing.  The valley was very green and it looked a little reminisce of an oasis.  Afterwards we all went to Jaqueline's house and met her family.  We went by the water and had some food, and ended up staying out a lot later than I think any of us even realized.  At about 7 when we asked about catching an hiace back, we were told that there would be no more.  Oh man, I though Tuga was going to be pissed.  Luckily some of the LCF's were there, and Jacqueline was able to get her brother to bring us back to Assomada.  All in all another good road trip.



September 6th- "THE TREE"