On many maps, you will not find Cape Verde. Even by neighboring countries, it’s often forgotten – unsure if its identity lies with Africa, Europe, or somewhere in between.
When I received my Peace Corps invitation, and opened it in a hurry, hoping to scream with delight about the destination that awaited me, I was left with mere confusion. I had the same question so many people ask, “Wait, where is Cape Verde?” I didn’t know if I should be excited, or scared, about my new home.
And now, after two years, I call Cape Verde nha terra, my land. Now I have two homes. Two places filled with memories, laughter, and yes, sometimes tears. Cape Verde houses my friends and family too. It celebrates birthdays and grieves at funerals; it gives us corn and beans for cachupa; it provides us with an abundance of sunshine and only a few drops of rain.
Many friends from home ask me, “Won’t you be so excited to return home again?” and my reply is always, “But what is home?” Returning to America means leaving friends and family behind – it means missing graduations, newborn babies, and birthdays. It means a part of my heart, a piece of me, will stay here forever.
This isn’t a place that is forgotten about when I return to America. It’s not finished after two years. It is a part of me now. It’s my life intertwined with so many others. It’s not goodbye, rather it’s see you later. It’s I’ll be back as soon as I can.