I’m trying not to begin with “as mentioned previously,” since that is how I’ve started the last two posts – and yet… At any rate, I’m continuing to describe my life goals, or the “bucket list,” I developed when I turned 30.
I wanted to be a traveler, but not the kind that comes to your home and rips you off with unnecessary or unfinished repairs – I wanted to see the world. My goal, however, was not necessarily to see the pretty parts of the world, but to gain understanding of how the rest of the world lives – the real world, and not just the capital cities. So I set a goal to visit Africa, the Middle East, South America, and China. I threw in Europe because America is so Eurocentric that I thought it wouldn’t hurt to see how life was lived there as well. I have enjoyed traveling and have been fortunate to travel to Cape Verde (Africa – a series of islands, but technically Africa), Israel and Jordan (Middle East), Costa Rica (almost South America, but not really), Portugal, England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland. I’ve also been able to travel to Mexico and Canada several times. I hope to next visit China (maybe this winter), then maybe Peru.
Of all these, I may have enjoyed Cape Verde the most. Briefly, I went with a group from our church to live and work alongside the people while constructing a church building on one of the smaller islands. It looked kind of like Gilligan’s Island, but without as many trees. At the time I was there (1991), they were suffering from their twenty-third year of drought. Most of these volcanic islands had been denuded and the government was in the process of trying to revive plant life. The people there were wonderful, friendly, beautiful, and hard working. They are a mixture of Portuguese and African and speak a creole language. They knew a little English – mostly, “I love you America! Give me monies.” They were also very poor. Back then, if they could find work, they would earn the equivalent of about five dollars a day. The cost of living was high, so most people lived in cinderblock homes without running water or electricity. They depended on the well in the nearest town and on Kerosene lamps. It really almost seemed like biblical days. They did wear western style clothing, and I’m assuming the clothing was sent from America, because one day I saw a young man wearing a shirt that said, “Baby on Board” with an arrow pointing at his stomache. He was very proud of the shirt and seemed to believe it proclaimed his prowess as a fertility expert, so I smiled and nodded dumbly since I didn’t really want to be an ugly American by speaking loudly and slowly and trying to burst his bubble. I say most people lived this way, because the only people who enjoyed electricity and running water were the ones who worked for the government. Each town had a generator that ensured the government offices had electricity. The streets of each town were also paved with cobblestone – which was a joy when you are riding in a taxi (seven passenger minivan) with the seats taken out and 2×6 wood planks inserted to increase the amount of seating available. I have many stories and fond memories of Cape Verde, and encourage you to visit. If you go, be sure to travel to Tarrafal, on the island of Santiago. I’ve included some photos below (not mine, I took them from a travel site – traveljournals.net):