Thursday, October 30, 2008

Halloween Presents

You canºt really see it, but itºs a card from my parents, which I thought was cute (and yes mom you are right, it is lame, but I loved it!), and my dadºs yearbook picture, which on the back says ´I thought I should include something scary´ (i got a huge kick out of it)

In a very small envelope with my absentee ballot (which I am so grateful to my dad for sending over), he literally stuffed as many paper halloween decorations. The woman at the post office got a huge kick out of it and they are now hanging up all around the apartment, so we are all decorated for the holiday.

My other fun package was from Courtney Peanut Butter Raum, who sent me a whole ton of goodies, including a trashy novel (which was great and I finished in a couple of hours), peeps (which I LOVE) and other fun goodies to keep me going.
So needless to say it was a super fun trip to the post office, even if on my walk back home I got tons of crazy looks, because I had a huge smile on my face :)
Although Iºve been pretty lucky with having decent access to email, there is nothing like a letter, so keep em coming. Hope everything has a great halloween! Iºm not sure what Iºm doing for the day. They do celebrate halloween here but they dress up in black, thatºs about all i know, so I dont think that I am going to go as a desperate housewife as I was thinking (maybe just around the apartment). Anyway, have a great weekend!

Baté(ing) Roupa

Doing laundry is not the simple task that it is at home. First you ´fiti-fiti´ (totally spelled wrong) where you rub together arm pits on shirts, etc. Next you use the wash board (as seen above) to basically beat the crap out of your clothes.Then you rinse out the clothes in a seperate bucket. I still havenºt really figured out how to get all the soap out of the clothes, I think that it is just impossible. That is the one pro to it really never raining, because if I got caught in a storm I would definatly suds up. Then you have the fun task of ringing out all the water... also something I havenºt mastered yet. We have a tile balcony and each time I have managed to basically flood it (mostly during the ringing out step), which makes it extremely dangerous (but humorous if watching) to walk around and try to hang up the clothes.
The washboard that we have at the apartment is made of wood, they make them with metal and also like a stone, which we had at the homestay family, and definatly beat the hell out of my clothes (way more than now, and also because I donºt have my host mom standing over me making sure that I beat them sufficently). If you have a shirt with buttons on it and your not carefully, you can literally hear the buttons coming loose, the sound just makes you cringe (espeically because you know that you will be sewing them back on later). Jeans, towels and sheets are the absolute worst to clean. not only is it difficult to clean it on the washboard, but ringing it out... Ooo man, itºs the hardest. Iºve figured out that if you put water item you need to ring between your legs you can get most of it out, but alot of times it will end up back in the bucket (and you are also getting soaked) so itºs just a crazy task.
Despite the rediculousness of the situation, I oddly enjoy baté(ing) my roupa, itºs kind of relaxing listening to some music and humorous (sometimes a neighbor from a rooftop will look on, I know she is judging my ability and also amazed that a foreigner can do her own laundry, even if itºs not well).

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Bom Dia

This morning I went for a walk\run to the beach and there was this rainbow over Santa Antão which was incredible. I think it had just rained in Santa Antão because we got rain as I was leaving, hence the rainbow. I did not have my camera which is unfortunate but it was so beautiful and really made my day.
I also met this really nice girl on the beach and we ran together, she taught me some Kreolu and we are going to try to meet everyday (at 630). Thatºs all Iºve got for now...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Pingu-pingu and the stolen cat

So my host family had a cat named pingu-pingu (meaning polka dots *I named it myself*) and one day this skinny little cats appears with a baby kitten (who we later named pingu-pingu dodu *crazy*). I had found out a couple days earlier that Leah’s host family’s neighbor’s cat had kittens on their roof and that Kevi (her host brother) had dropped to kittens off in ribiera, I believe a couple of weeks after being born. Needless to say before I heard about these abandoned kittens I was skeptical that pingu-pingu had a litter of one. I’ve never heard of such a thing, please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong or if you’ve ever heard of such a thing. I explained to my host family about my skepticism, but they were convinced that pingu-pingu would never do such a thing and that it had litters of one in the past (hmm suspicious- a serial kitten robber). So despite my skepticism I tried to drop it. But pingu-pingu and pingu-pingu dodu weren’t interacting like mother and child. Pingu-pingu for one couldn’t carry pingu-pingu dodu by the neck and every time it tried it dropped it. Since I’m pretty sure that pingu-pingu wasn’t producing any milk (I never was fully able to determine this but I am pretty confident), pingu-pingu dodu wasn’t eating except for the small portions of rice that I would sneak it. I’m not sure if pingu-pingu dodu was a little off because pingu-pingu wasn’t its’ mom and therefore wasn’t getting any nutrients from milk or what, but it certainly wasn’t the smartest kitten in Ribiera Manuel. It would walk into my room and hiss at me, or hiss as things it knocked over, roll off of books it was climbing on and just cry. When I spoke to my host family last they said that pingu-pingu dodu was still alive and well but they also still continue to refuse to admit that their other cat stole it.

Kumida na Cabo Verde

Some exciting food finds include Philadelphia cream cheese (which although was expensive was worth every penny) and mozzarella cheese (which I made a calzone with mushrooms, onions, peppers and olives). I also made a pizza last night with musrooms and put a few malageta pepers (veryOne day this fresh fruit market with the nicest ladies had Hass avocados, which was close to the best things I’ve found here yet. Although they do have some avocados here, they are different and kind of watery, so therefore don’t have as great of a flavor as the avocados you find in the states. So anyway that is why it was so exciting to find Hass avocados which made an awesome guacamole. I still need to perfect my tortilla making skills so hopefully I will be able to find some more good avocados. Random tidbit about avocados here: Cape Verdeans put sugar on them, and not just a little bit of sugar but so much sugar that you can’t even taste the avocado. While living with my host family I can happily report that I convinced my host father to try avocado with salt, and he now loves it and doesn’t eat it any other way.

Katxupa: traditional Cape Verdean stew made with ground corn, beans and meat.

The process of making katxupa is a big task. Each member of my host family took a role in the making of it. I decided after failed attempts of helping that I would be official photographer for the day. The process begins with putting dried corn in a container and smashing it. This takes out a part of the corn that is white and hard and I’m not sure if inedible but regardless is regarded as a necessary step. To the left you can see my host brothers (Sondri and Kinu) doing such. This is a hard task, because not only do you ne

ed to be strong but you also have to be precise with your aim because you don’t want to corn to fly everywhere when you are trying to break it down. I lacked both grace and strength in this task and after losing most of the corn in the container I decided that it was best to opt out. After you smash the corn you need to get the part of the corn that you donºt want (sorry that I canºt currently recall any of the names of this process), so you put it in a basket and do this crazy thing where you can get all the white part out. This was another task that I was completly incapable of doing, but it was amazing to watch my host mom do this with such ease, as you can see above. I missed the making of the katxupa after this step but below is a picture of the final product and my host father who actually made the katxupa (they are a very modern family with the boys cooking and doing laundry)

A walk through Mindelo

Today (13/10/08) I walked down a road I hadn’t been down yet into a more residential area in search of soil. I am attempting to possibly make a compost box so that we can put some food such as fruit cores etc. since living in the city we don’t have a pig to give our unwanted food to, I figured it would be a good idea to try to come up with another creative way to throw out some scraps. No such luck with finding any soil but on my walk I started talking to an older man who I ended up walking all around town with. When I told him that I was in search for soil, he tried to make it his mission to find some (unfortunately apparently soil in the city is hard to come by but I might be able to find some in the country). I ended up meeting a good bit of his friends and walked into the fish market and saw lots of fresh fish including a giant tuna (it had to be like 4 or 5 ft long and apparently that wasn’t that large of a tuna). I still haven’t ventured into trying to cook any sort of meat, (after the home stay I am still avoiding fish, rice and beans for a little while), but I think one of these days I am going to venture to the market and try to make some fish. I haven’t seen too much fresh meat. I have seen frozen chicken but I’m not sure if I’m even feeling that adventurous yet and I have a very small freezer so I need to be strategic in what I buy that needs to be frozen.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Phone Line up and Running

The phone line in my apartment is working and was installed much faster than I possibly could have imagined, espeically because I thought we got the cheapest option and assumed when they said it would be a week, that it would be at least two... but anyway you may now make phone calls to my house.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

New Number and Address

I opened up a p.o. box at the post office so I now have a new address. Please send letters this way instead of with the other address other wise it will be months before I get letters (or packages which are now very welcome!)

Yesterday I spent the day cleaning up the apartment and getting things out of bags. It is a huge relief to not be living out of my suite case. I tried to hang up my tapestry and my lanterns but no matter what kind of tape I use they fall down. Itºs quite hot and humid here (despite it never raining) so the tape doesnºt work very well. I am going to look into finding tacks but I havenºt seen any so far and Iºm not sure if they would go into the wall because Iºm pretty sure that wall is made of cement. Iºm going to have to look into some other option.
The apartment has a small balcony that looks over the harbor and the rest of the city, itºs a really nice location and Iºm looking forward to a clear day so that I can see Santa Antao.
My job at the SOS is quite far out of town which is kind of annoying. My boss called me to ask me when I was coming in on Monday and I had a lot of trouble hearing here, and since I had no idea where the place was I had to ask around. I had to have asked like 30 or more people and no one in town knew where it was which was really frustrating. On the internet I figured out what concelleo it was in but still didnºt know how to get there. Finally I went to the Camara and asked a security guard who was so sweet and after about 20 minutes he told me what bus to take and gave me a general idea of where it was. Needless to say I was a little nervous about getting to work. I found the bus which is luckily a block from my house and although the bus driver didnºt know where it was, there were 3 kids on the bus who were going there and we walked together. It was a really great moment getting there because I was able to do it through my broken Kriolu (the speak Northern Kriolu here too which I have to pick up) and with the help of some really nice people. So despite the frustrations and the fact that it would have been easier if my boss had just told me what bus to take (had I of course understood her on the phone), it was a good test of my language and my patience and Iºm pretty proud that I was able to do it by myself. I also made 3 adorable little friends who at the end of the day walked back with me to the bus stop (we ended up having to run after the bus, which was a really funny site Iºm sure for onlookers).
Anyway, I shall post again soon. Hope everyone is doing well at home!