Waking up this morning I remained in bed for a while longer than usual listening to the forceful gusts of wind sliding past my house. The winds which are a normal occurance for this season in Cachaço are on their way south towards Monte Gordo carrying a solid chill and mist that intices me to stay in the bed which I have warmed . While this is not unusual in any way for me, an avid snooze button hitter, but this morning instead of trying to guess when the alarm would go off again and again, listening to my shutters slam back and forth in an effort to escape the winds, I was thinking about a phone conversation from a very good friend back in the US. As normal the talk was quick and unorganized in an effort to fit as much about our lives as possible in a quick few minutes which has become the norm with the few people I speak on the phone with from the
What I took from this conversation, and was mulling over this chilly morning was the fact that I am not keeping up with my blog, this blog, which was to be my discussion with friends and family in the states about this experience. More or less my friend said I was doing a crappy job. These were not the exact words, spoken considerately, but I know worse words would have described the job I was doing and are deserved. So sorry I apologize for the, I quote myself here, “SHITTY JOB” I have done with this blog. I never thought I would have a blog going on the internet, if anything, I had thought about it as I had a cell phone a couple years back, as a needless annoyance and craze. Those of you who know me though are quite aware of the addiction I have NPR, and more specifically the shows I have grown up with. I have taken on of my creeds from Garrison Keelor’s “Be good, do good work, and keep in touch.” I work hard to follow this statement, as cheesy as it sounds and I sound following it, but it works for me. I have fallen extremely short of understanding and accomplishing the third and final part of these directions over the past few years. For this reason I have a blog and for this reason I also forget this blog many times. But for all these reasons and the friend who reminded me of my lack of effort I am now vowing to keep up on this blog in an attempt to stay in touch with y’all.
There we go. Now onto the much delayed description of my current life. Oh one more thing, one of my disgusts with this whole blog thing is the one sidedness of the whole thing. “I this, me that” I am not one to who likes to talk at people or control a one sided converstation. I am more a fan of emails and letters for the ability to converse. So please please please don’t keep in touch with me at times, post some comments and emails if you get a chance.
I am living on Sao Nicolau, the pistol shaped island, which is part of the
I am volunteering with the Parque Natural Monte Gordo, which is a part of the Protected areas program in
Endemic?? You ask? This means that the species cannot be found in any other part of the world!!! So for example we have many species which are found only in Cape Verde, such as Tortolho, a large strongly branched shrub, or Lingua-de-Vaca(Tongue of Cow, so called because of the rough feeling of the leaves! haha) There are also species such as the beautiful Macela-de-Gordo which is endemic to Sao Nicolau, and Monte Gordo specifically, which means you can only find it here within the small area ( appx. 950 ha) of Monte Gordo.
A little more in depth about Endemic plants… Species that were able to reach the islands (which were uninhabited until the Portuguese began using them) without human intervention are called INDIGENOUS species. Many of these indigenous species evolved over time from the specific conditions they were subjected to here in
So there are endemic species of plants, trees, birds, lizards, and toads(and probably insects and others I don’t know)
The park is an integrated effort to protect and preserve these unique species. It is also an effort to better the lives of many of the community members, with jobs within the park, reducing erosion, helping to slow the loss of rainwater to the ocean, and building of community friendly tourism.
So our offices have 3 main departments. There is the Ecology team which has been given the major effort of identifying and cataloging the different species in the park. They also are responsible for the fight against invasive or introduced species and promotion of endemic and indigenous species. There are two main invasive species(they take over quickly and force other species out) which were introduced for erosion control and beautification projects by the Portuguese back in the day. These are Carapato and Lantana. Carapato is widely used for many purposes within the community, but spreads rediculusly fast. Lantana also has become well established because of its rapid growth and ability to spread fast moving in on other plants’ territories. There are also bird species and their habitats which must be preserved. I have become obsessed with an owl found in the park, which I may have to try and see in person one day, awesome looking in pictures I have seen.
There is also a community development team which attempts to educate and involve the community in the parks efforts. This includes educating students in the schools, through field trips, presentations, clubs, and informational leaflets. It also provides seminars on local handicraft skills, community participation, and much more. They are currently underway with an effort to identify the land rights of different areas within the park and the effort to catalog the actual boudries of the park. This is another part of the integrated participatory management, because the park contains the farming fields of many of the surrounding community. So there must be cooperation and understanding in promoting the park’s ideas for the future. My housemate has been slated to work with this area.
The third department is the ecotourism department. This team is slated with the effort to bring tourism to the area which will benefit the local communities as well as educate visitors from the world. This is the area I have been working in. There are many aspects to this. Currently we are working inside the park to improve signage and trails making hiking more inviting to all visitors. In the future we will be working on a camping area within the park. I have been training an amazing group of young guides and park monitors. Training consists of both English language skills and guiding skills right now. This is probably one of the coolest parts of the job. Hiking around the park, having them teach me, asking questions about the culture the history the species and learning so so much from them. We are also working on integrating the community into this whole scheme so that they can benefit from the tourism also. This includes sale of handicrafts, foods, and goods. Also the creation of bed and breakfasts in the communities around the park, and restaurants. This will involve a great deal of work with the community helping them to understand what visitors will want in these services and how we can accomplish this. We are also responsible of relaying all the information of the park to tourists, so that they understand the great effort being made by the
Ok so how about my life?
I live in a decent size house here in the “mountain” town of
I have befriended many of our neighbors and community members. Its nice to have friends and be able to practice and learn more and more everyday language and culture wise. The new soccer field was just finished Saturday, and is the first ever in town. There was needless to say a big festival for this. Officials came to dedicate it, soccer games were played, and a bunch of food and booze! It was a nice feeling to go and be able to communicate with a lot of friends. The Cachaço team, however was sadly smashed by the visiting team in the first ever debut of the stadium.
The town is on the main road which runs between the two main cities of the island. These are Villa and Tarafal. Both are great for their own reasons. Tarafal is always warm and Villa is always beautiful…
I go in to work 5 days a week to the offices, and on the weekends I try to get out and explore the rest of the island. It is possible to hike to just about everywhere on the island from my little town within I would guess 2 days. I can see the entire island from the park on a clear day. I can also see many of the surrounding islands which are both inhabited and uninhabited now.
I have been cooking and baking a great deal in the evenings and the weekends. So any visitors will get a culinary treat from yours truly.
Well I am sick of typing this morning. But please stay tuned as this is a renewed effort to stay in touch.