Before coming to Cape Verde, I was anxious about leaving all my stuff behind, all the comforts of life. It may sound silly, but it’s true. I wondered if I could survive without a washing machine, a microwave, a refrigerator, running water…you get the picture.
And I’ve found, after two years, I actually enjoy being self-reliant. There’s nothing quite like it. It’s nice to know that I can wash clothes by hand; I don’t have to have a washing machine (although if someone offered me one today, I would gladly accept it). I can cook my own food, without a recipe or boxed ingredients. I can take a shower with a bucket of water and come out just as clean as a long, hot shower.
I own no high heels. I’ve worn the same clothes for two years straight. My make-up consists of a tube of mascara. I do not own a hair straightener, curling iron, or hair dryer. I can pack a bag for a week in a book bag and have clothes to spare. I have two pairs of shoes I wear on a regular basis. I wash my hair once a week. I can take a shower in 3 minutes and be ready in 5 minutes.
I’m afraid that when I return to America, all this will change. I will pack half my closet to go on vacation for a week. I don’t want to rely on things for comfort or happiness. I like knowing that I don’t need a lot of things to be happy. I like knowing I don’t need a washing machine, rather I need a bar of soap and a little bit of water. I like not owning a television and visiting with friends instead. I like that I know how to flush a toilet with a bucket of water.
I am not worried about up-and-coming fashions, or new gadgets…I don’t even know what they are, and I wouldn’t know how to use them. But most of all, I like that I’ve replaced these things, these material goods, with an abundance of people, memories and experiences that never go out of style.