... Third year, new job, new island, new city, new home, new housemate, new friends, new everything and that’s just the way I like it. I can’t imagine my life running any other course, and I am sure some of you couldn’t agree more. This is the way its supposed to be isn’t it? A ever changing life with new challenges and a change of scenery every once in a while. It’s the way my life has been since I can remember, and hopefully will continue to be so… But maybe just maybe I will find a spot and a life I love, and I can see it sometimes… a place where I will stop and call home, like the real home I mean. Because I still have never been able to answer that question that all of us, especially the travelers usually hear “Where are you FROM?”. Hell if I know!
So I just got back from my 1 month, kinda mandatory, vacation in the states before my third year in PC. Vacation was good, real good.
I am now living on the island of São Vicente in the main city of Mindelo, or more specifically in the area of Monte Sossego. Mindelo has about 62,970 people and is the second largest city in Cape Verde. The island has an area of 227km2 .The largest hands-down is the capital Praia on the island of Santiago with around 90,000 people. In a country with a population near 499,796 those are pretty sizable cities. Also coming from São Nicolau which had 13,310 people TOTAL with an area of 357km2. Monte Sossego is a district of Mindelo that has some nice houses and apartments, and seems to be a neighborhood with residents that do pretty well, have jobs and are starting families, for the most part. We have our own post office, banks, phone company stores, shops, some schools, and all that so it is pretty homey or comfy. I dig that, and for the most part safe. I have found some nice running routes, and have been out pretty often. I also joined a small GYM, but its pricey and hope to find a simpler and cheaper one.
However I did just read that there was a gang war broken up by the Police which was between two rival groups. One was a mixture from my area and cova (no idea where that is but guessing it is adjacent to my hood) and the other group was from Ribeira Craquinha, and one of the leaders was killed in the fight. According to this article which was about the 2008 crime statistics from the police for my island had to deal with about 4,125 incidents in the year, but most were nothing serious. (São Vicente: Polícia Nacional apresenta números da “Operação Verão 2009”, INFORPRESS October 6, 2009 I think from Sapo)
So that sounds pretty rough, but on a whole the country is doing pretty well, recently ranking in 2nd of 52 african countries by the Arfican Government for 2009, some of the ratings based on security and rights, participation and human rights, opportunity, economy, and sustainability. WAY TO GO CAPE VERDE!
My job for the next year is with what used to be called ISECMAR, which was the Technical University here in Cape Verde, but is now Instituto Superior Técnico and has combined with UNiCV or the main Cape Verdean University. From what I can tell they used to be a sea navigation university, but have moved on more towards engineering and science. You can check them out online just google UniCV and select the technical school when you are on the site.
Classes are supposed to start here on October 12, but I am not sure if that will happen. The school has been constructing a new building, which seems to be complete and approved to be moved into (not sure if there are those rules about occupation and etc here). The school is still moving everything into the new building. You know, desks, lab equipment, boards, and maybe some AC??? I hope so. The building has a bunch of south facing windows without a good shade or hangover, and the rooms can get a bit warm for this!!
I had applied for a third year as a Technical English Teacher at ISECMAR, this university, and I got iT! So that is my primary job assignment, but I also want to make some contacts with the national energy company ELECTRA, who I have contacted in the past about renewable energy projects, and seems really dedicated to raising the national renewable energy production to 25% or so of the total output. I am interested in this, and they are also working on a “Poupa Energia” or Conserve Energy program, giving suggestions and really pushing for people to use more energy efficient appliances and also to be more conscientious of their usage! Important steps if they don’t want to keep building more and more diesel power generators every month. This way they can think about renewable sources also. I read something on microgrids recently from CERTS a Microgrid Project, aptly named. They are looking at how these small turbines and residential PV setups which take advantage of the diverse distribution of energy resources can then be combined into a utility-scale grid! Or I was also reading about how a lot of areas in Africa have given up completely on these utility grids, because they are just impossible so many vast distances to cross with power lines or remote areas to reach. Companies are looking more towards more off-grid systems(maybe tie back to microgrid idea). Supposedly this has been foreseen by the World Bank which has put 12mil bucks into a budget to fund products and services of these off grid electrical projects. (a lot of this is taken from the Sept.Oct 2009 issue of Technology Review, check it out!!) For providing power in small areas or amounts, and that combining to become the grid instead of one central plant providing power over huge distances is an interesting alt and also works well with combining local energy sources (sometime very diverse dependent on resources) to provide power for many people. OR think about CapeVerde where some (STATISTIC FROM SHELL AND ENECOL) gallons of diesel are imported every year. Type that into a calculator online to seeCO2 and toxin production and COST!! Which will only rise. I am getting carried away here but check this out online you can go to BP and see or better yet download the STASTISTICAL REVIEW OF WORLD ENERGY 2009 (with all data since 1965!) Full Report, even in EXCEL format and see the proven oil reserves etc… Interesting stuff!!
This year I was also hoping to stay in touch with the Protected Areas Project, which I worked with the last two years in São Nicolau at Monte Gordo Natural Park. They are in the stages of opening a new park here in São Vicente at Monte Verde, and also an area or two on the next island over Santo Antão. If I can help with anything tourism or English language training related I would love to.
Back to the topic. The university seems to have English teachers for all their students needs, and hopes to have me working with professors on their English skills. I have to meet with the teachers interested to see what level and technical aspects of English they need/want before I know exactly what I am up to but I am down for this! It is also a consensus that my Portuguese language skills are not up to par to teach any advanced courses, so I am on hold until next semester… if only krioulu was the teaching language… I am also going to be mentoring or overseeing some students who are finishing their final project or Capstone before graduating. Right now students have about 3 years of classes and then they go to an internship, and then have to find a final research/design project to do. I have been asked to take the students doing energy and renewable energy oriented projects. The first student who has sent in a proposal is doing a feasibility and design project of outfitting one of the islands’ (will not say which island) airports with renewable energy! THAT’S AWESOME AND RIGHT UP MY DANG ALLEY! So I am excited about that. I told my boss that I don’t have a lot of experience or education in all this, but I have studied and have a large amount of interest and can make up for it in this. I feel really prepared and stoked!
So that’s work.
I have a NICE house with a roomie. The apartment is unbelievable and a real step up from the last 2 years. I am most excited about a solid bed, a water heater above my shower which has “HOT BOY” printed on it, and so many rooms and balconies! Maybe I will throw a picture up! Or you can check them on my picture site.
A bunch of my old coworkers were in town when I got here so I got to meet up with them. One of my old guides had twins with his girlfriend so I got to see them and hang out for a bit!!! AWESOME! 2 boys!
I do miss the simplicity of my old small town, friends, my dog and stomping grounds in Cachaço, São Nicolau right now, and have been keeping up with my old friends and family there. SODADE!!! In addition to all of them I also miss my cheap little Chinese made stove. Let me tell you that it was really well made, and I never had any problems. The one we ended up with here LOOKS a lot nicer, but the metal racks above the gas burners are a little too wide which make putting any coffee maker or small pan on them quite precarious, and for some reason the oven will not light, and running the gas for a while and dropping a match in to see if any gas is running is kinda freaking me out. At lease the old one you could hear the gas running and had an idea of when to drop the match in before it went BOOM! Not what you thought you would hear a PC Volunteer complaining about huh?
The Kioulu here is really similar a few different expressions and pronounciations and more of a mixture from all the islands. It’s a city though and not a small town so there is less interacation and meeting on the street like I am used to.
Ohhh… I am a small town boy and I miss the small town…