April 6, 2003 - Personal Web Site: Chad Call, a Peace Corps Volunteer in Cape Verde

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Cape Verde: Peace Corps Cape Verde : The Peace Corps in Cape Verde: April 6, 2003 - Personal Web Site: Chad Call, a Peace Corps Volunteer in Cape Verde

By Admin1 (admin) on Sunday, April 06, 2003 - 4:58 pm: Edit Post

Chad Call, a Peace Corps Volunteer in Cape Verde

Chad Call, a Peace Corps Volunteer in Cape Verde



Vila TarrafalVisit areas of the village and see what the mornings are like.

Fishing See the morning catch.

Rural Tarrafal Visit some farmers and see what they make with sugarcane.

SimenteraThe rains are on the way and its time to plant some crops.

After the Harvest See how I celebrated the holidays.

Fogo Take a trip to the volcano and see some friends of mine.

Where is Cape Verde located?

Links A short list of sites of Cape Verdean interest on the WWW.

Images A collection of photos.

Images and text created by Chad Call.

For suggestions or comments, please email me at: rebelado@earthlink.net

The Republic of Cape Verde is located several hundred miles west of the African Continent in the Atlantic Ocean. It includes the nine main islands of Brava, Fogo, Santiago, Maio, BoaVista, Sal, Såo Nicolau, Såo Vicente, and Santo Antåo. The islands receive very little rainfall. In fact, the Cape Verdeans are lucky if it rains three or four times per year. This makes for very difficult living. However, the Capeverdeans continue to defy the odds and persist because of their stong spirit of esperança .(hope)

The people of Cabo Verde speak Crioulo which is a mixture of Portuguese and several West African languages. The offical language is Portuguese. There are two main dialects of Crioulo.They are Badiu and Sampadjudu.

All of the islands are geographically different. Some islands receive more rainfall than the others. Some islands are mountainous and others are flat with beautiful sand beaches. The ocean waters are clean and warm and make for great fishing and swimming. Every island has its very own unique feature.

Cape Verde is very special to me. I had a great time there while serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer for two years. I spent my time learning Crioulo, making friends, dancing the funana, and watching the spectacular sunsets from Tarrafal. I owe a lot to my Cape Verdean friends who taught me how to enjoy life and never give up the spirit of esperança.

Visit Vila Tarrfal See pictures of the fishermen and aspects of rural life in Tarrafal.


It's 6:30 in the morning and I am awakened by the noise of the pescadores (fishermen) and the familiar and ever present sound of the waves crashing against the shore. I am living in Vila Tarrafal, Ilha Santiago, several hundred miles west of the African Continent. Some fishermen are heading out to sea for the day and others are returning after spending the night out on the water. It is a routine that they will go through day after day. Some days there will be plenty of fish. Other days the ocean will be rough and the fishermen will catch nothing. Still, they keep trying.

By the time I have taken my morning bath and dressed, the rabidantes (women who sell the fish) have begun to arrive. They have come from places like Serra Malagueta, Chao Bom, and Assomada in hope that there will be fish for them to bring back to their villages. Its gotten noisier outside and the rabidantes have begun to make all kinds of noise. "A bô sta dodo!" (You're crazy) shouts one of the rabidantes. Another yells back "A bô ki sta dodo!" (Its you who is crazy). The rabidantes carry on and wait for the day's catch. They will stay there until the last boat comes in. The rabidantes want to return to their villages with plenty of fish for sale. Hopefully, today there will be plenty of fish.


I hear the sound of the rabidantes and pescadores arguing over the small amount of fish that was brought in. "A mi, n' ca ta paga. Kel peixe li 'sta picinote!" The rabidantes look over the fresh bideon, garropa, and cavalo that the fishermen have to offer. I ask my freind Tunuca how things are and she replies "Hoje cao sta mal." (There isn't much to choose from)

I start to head out for work, but decide to hang around a little while longer and see what happens. Over by the coquiero (coconut grove) a group of rabidantes and pescadores has cast a net. "Puxa! Puxa!" they shout as they bring the net in. My friend Ze is swimming in the clear blue water trying to chase a school of sardine towards the net.

Before I realize it there's a net full of fish flopping about on the sand. It's a lot, but not enough. Everyone decides to junta mao (cooperate) and try one more time. "Puxa! Puxa!" one man shouts. "Peixe ja bem!" another pescador yells. They pull the net in and I see that my friend Ze is smiling. There's enough fish for everyone. Even those of us who have been watching manage to collect some. The catch is shared and there will be some for a grehaldo (grill out) later in the day. It's time for me to head out to the interior. La fora..


Vila Tarrafal, or Mangui as it is called by the locals, sits below Monte Graciosa (Graciosa mountain) at the northern most end of Santigao Island. In this picture you can see the primary school, praca (or town square), and Igreja do Santo Amaro (St. Amaro Church.) The Mangui is where all the trading takes place on Mondays and Thursdays, when farmers come from the rural zones and sell their vegetables, animals, grogo, and other goods.

I head off to Colonato which is about a twenty minute walk from the Vila. Colonato is a farming district that was developed during the Portuguese rule over Cape Verde. Today at the Rural Extension Center, Lucilio, Garcez and I are speaking to farmers about different insects that have been destroying the couve (collards). The farmers complain that they have not been able to control the insects. "Kel bicho e ruino," says one of the farmers. (That bug is harmful) We show the farmers how to identify the good and bad insects and how to prevent crop damage.

After we talk with the farmers we travel to Gongon near Ribeira Principal. Gongon is located deep in the ribeira or valley. It takes us nearly thirty minutes just to travel one mile up the rocky path. We get out of the truck and see that our friends are hard at work making grogo (sugar cane rum) and honey. "Anda, anda!", (Go, Go!) shouts the owner of the two bulls. The animals circle around the trapitchi (sugar cane press) as the sugar cane squeezes through. Our friends will take the extract and heat it up to the boilng point so they can make the grogo and mel.

The farmers offer us a taste of fresh grogo from the still and we sip it from a coconut shell. We then sample a little of the mel (honey) on a piece of bread. The animals continue to circle around the trapitchi and the smell of fermenting grog permeates the air. I ask one of the farmers if he sells alot of his grogo. He replies, "Kel grogo li e so cana cana." (This grog is pure sugarcane, it is the best.)


After the rain storm, my friends and I head out to the interior to take part in the annual practice of simentera. This is the planting of the traditional crops of corn and beans (milho e feijao). My friend Lucilio grabs hold of the enxada (hoe) to dig holes (coba chao). He digs one hole, takes two steps back, and digs another hole. Lucilio's young brother drops corn and bean seed in each hole and covers it.

Most of the land that crops are planted on do not have regular irrigation. The simentera depends on the rain fall. Everyone hopes that the rain will fall on a regular basis. Otherwise the crops will be destroyed by drought (stragadu). Back at the Rural Extension Center, crops have been planted in a field that has access to irrigation. Every fifteen days, we irrigate the crops (rega) with an enxada. The water comes from a tank (tanque) and follows a system of canals to the field. The plants must be grown on what are called regos. This is a hill and valley system in which each rego (furrow) is closed off with dirt after it has been filled with water. The water seeps into the ground and eventually is soaked up by the plant. The water is expensive and the work is very labor intensive.

Weeds begin to grow after the second rainfall of the season. The weeds will take up space and use a lot of the water and nutrients in the ground. Now it is time to take part in weeding (monda). The weeds are pulled by hand one at a time. Often, the weeds will be saved and brought back home to feed the animals (limaria). Monda can take a long time and it feels like you never finish.

Tempo Sabi

Even though it hasn't rained enough, the people in Tarrafal still know how to have a good time. They use their strong spirit of esperança or hope. The supply of staple crops (beans and corn) will not last longer than a few months. Even so, the holidays are approaching and the Cape Verdeans will celebrate Christmas and the New Year.

Families and friends all get together and hold parties or festas. All kinds of dishes will be prepared. These include feijoada, caldo de peixe, xerem, massa, and jagaçida. The food has taken a long time to prepare. It started way back in the month of July when the first rains came. Then came the simentera, then monda, and finally colheita (harvest). The harvest usually begins around the first of November. This is a special day in the village of Tarrafal. It is called Dia de todos Os Santos or All Saint's Day. The first ears of fresh corn (milho verde) are collected and the tradition is to prepare milho assado (roasted corn). The fresh corn is good and we enjoy every bite knowing that it won't last forever.

Christmas day is a time to visit friends and families throughout the village. I travel from the vila to Ponta Lagoa to Colhe Bicho to Ponta Gato and back to Chao Bom again. I stop at the house of my friend Bixa. His mother invites us in and we have a large Christmas dinner that she has prepared. After visiting for a while, I head back to the Vila.

Trip to Fogo

My friend Ashley is going to get married, so I decide to take a trip to the island just to the west of Santiago. I land at the small airport in Igreja in the Concelho of Mosteiros. Bob and his friends meet me at the airport and Mane gives me a lift (boleia). We get to Mosteiros Tras. I stay in Mosteiros for a few days and climb to a village high on the mounain called Pae Antonio. The biggest climb will be the Volcano or Vulcao. The truck ride takes several hours up the bumpy road. We manage to have several flat tires on the way, but somehow we get to Cha das Caldeiras. This is the large crater in the center of the island. It is from here where we will make the climb. The slopes of the volcano are very steep and rocky. Our three hour trip will be worth the climb.

We finally make it to the very top of the volcano. At approximately 9,335 feet, Fogo is the highest point in West Africa. At the top of Fogo on a clear day, you can see a lot of the other surrounding islands. Looking down inside the peak, we see the floor of the present day caldera. We decide to make the climb of several hundred feet to the floor of the volcano.

We climb down to the floor of this active volcano and can feel the heat coming from the walls of the crater. Steam escapes from sections of the wall and the air is permeated with a strong sulphur smell. Several of the guys start collecting rocks of the enxofre (sulphur) and put it in their pockets. I ask Jao why he is doing this and he tells me that the enxofre can be used for stomach illness.

A group of us decide to leave our names spelled out on the floor of the crater. We carry large lava rocks back and forth spelling out our names for future visitors to see. Its now time to climb back down to safety. We don't want to press our luck inside this thing.

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Story Source: Personal Web Site

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Cape Verde; Photography - Cape Verde



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