Captain Crunch

What I would give for a heaping salad from Whole Foods or a bowl of peanut butter Cap’n Crunch cereal…I have never appreciated America’s amenities, America’s flavors, America’s establishments more than I do now. I guess you could say I have become a bit patriotic. We are living the good, good life.
One thing’s for sure – Cape Verde does not know the meaning, or should I say the experience, of candy. I realize this is probably a good thing, but my sweet tooth is calling and I am tired of being offered “candy” which amounts to a bad tasting cough drop. I am contemplating introducing the heavenly combination of peanut butter and chocolate to the island…sometimes I think I can taste a Reese Cup melting in my mouth. One of our favorite pastimes has become a contest in which each PCV describes the perfect meal, followed by a democratic vote of hands, that inevitably leads to rumbling tummies and quiet dreaming. No matter when, where, or why we get together, food is always discussed. You can only eat so much white rice, white bread and potatoes – or can you?
Food and diet give much insight into a country, a village of people. I am experiencing firsthand what it is like to eat for the sole purpose of survival and financial practicality. Taste, nutrition, and presentation are cast aside because its costs are too costly. Yet, do the costs always outweigh the benefits — How can we integrate essential aspects of nutrition into the Cape Verdean diet while preserving cultural traditions and bank accounts? Is it person to person, family to family, village to village?
As for reliable utilities, you can forget it. When it gets dark in Cape Verde, it gets dark. This makes for prime stargazing on my roof; however, when the power goes out (as it often does), life comes to an immediate halt. I am still trying to master the secret behind the availability of electricity and water in my village. Sometimes when I turn on my bedroom light, it works. Oftentimes, it does not. Sometimes when I turn on the water, it works. Oftentimes, it does not. Before flipping a switch, I close my eyes, hold my breath, and say a little wish, hoping for success. It’s a good day when no one has to fetch water from the well. If only I were an engineer – solar energy is calling Cape Verde’s name.
After some time, I have finally discovered what happens to my trash. Each time I ask my mom for the trashcan, she holds out her hand. Trash pick-up consists of gathering your waste in a wheelbarrow and dumping it over the bank, to be eaten by pigs and eventually, burned. Bottles, cardboard, paper and plastic fill the banks below my house – no systematically placed trash cans, no recycling. I should clarify that if the trash makes it to the bank, it’s a successful day. Littering is commonplace – most candy wrappers can be found exactly where the last bite was consumed.
We were informed, by veteran PCV’s, that our 9 week training period can be compared to “boot camp” – we are tested, challenged and stretched – to fully prepare us for the next two years. If you can’t tell from my nostalgic blog post, I’m starting to feel the heel of the boot. I promise to appreciate those simple, yet wealthy pleasures just a little more – chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven, checking out a library book, snuggling under freshly washed sheets, or enjoying the shade of a blossoming tree.

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1 Response to Captain Crunch

  1. Steve says:

    I can appreciate what you are saying, Krista. We have seen a little of what you describe in Belize, although not to the extent in Cape Verde. Keep on keepin' on during your training time. While you may feel the heel of the boot, remember that you are answering a calling and you will be stronger for the experience.Continued prayers for you.Much Love,Mr. P

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