Culture shock – from a rooster sitting on my kitchen table to eating white rice, potatoes, and fish at EVERY meal, I can now officially say I´m experiencing Cape Verde. I moved in with my homestay family a week ago and needless to say, it´s been an adjustment. My family speaks no English, only Kriolu, which makes even small tasks difficult. For instance, upon my arrival at their home, which is also the village store, I attempted to help them re-stock with bags of rice, boxes of meat, and cases of drinks. My help turned into me silently carrying the boxes around the store looking for their home while trying to avoid getting in the way of my brothers and sisters. I then proceeded to ask my mother if I could take a bath using the only 2 words I knew related to the bathroom – banu y laba. My mother spent the next 15 minutes trying to explain the concept of a bucket bath. To say the least, it´s an experience that leaves me with soapy hair and sore legs.
I wake each morning around 4am to the sounds of multiple roosters. After I toss and turn for a couple of hours, my 6 year old nephew wakes me around 6am. I usually go for a jog before the heat descends on the village, attempting to burn off my diet of complete and utter starch. Because my family´s home is not fully enclosed, animals are always in abundance. While I´m eating some variation of white rice and fish, baby chicks are begging for food under the table, the family´s goats are waiting patiently outside the door, and the dog is sitting by my feet.
I´ve discovered my home is the hot spot and no matter the time of day, there is music playing, kids running here and there, and teenagers looking for something to do. I have become the source of entertainment on multiple occassions – laughing at my broken Kriolu and asking me if I know Beyonce, Jay Z, and Rihanna.
My mom asked me if America was hot, and I attempted to tell her that Cape Verde gives an entirely new meaning to the word hot. It´s a hot that stays with you, that drains all your energy, and leaves me dreaming of a fan. I attend language classes from 8am to 5pm, only to come home to my brain swimming in Kriolu and my family patiently trying to converse with me. I could not ask for a more gracious community and family. Everyone wants to teach me the funana, feed me, and talk with me. I anticipate fully integrating myself into the community and discovering what I can do for them. I am realizing that you must first live with the people, before you can do anything for the people.
I took my first bucket bath, I have a cold that I most likely received from my nephew, I washed all my clothes by hand, I attended my first real futbol game,and I attempt to sleep under a mosquito net while suffering from vivid dreams due to malaria pills. This is by far the most difficult, yet rewarding job I´ve ever had and it´s only week two. My village has no internet, but I´m going to try and keep my blog updated – we´ll see how it goes.
I tell everyone abuot my friends and family! I miss you!