Workdays and a surprise Chinese cultural show + poi fireshow on the beach

I really am trying to make the most of work here. Mostly, its giving me the time and space to reflect on myself. There hasn’t been anything pressing and I’m quick to troubleshoot problems when they do come along… which has given me a lot of freedom and free time.

At the moment, I’m working on my book again, diving more into the stories of my tattoos since life up to the first tattoo is on my glitchy computer. It gives me something to focus on… and it makes me reflect on how my past has affected my present as well and how I’ve become the way I am by what I’ve gone through. I really am just going with my gut, focusing on flow and linking stories and elements.

Sometimes the electricity is out for a few hours here, which gives me time to ponder life in its raw form. Friday, I was observing a herd of goats, being around them so they’d get used to my presence. They got close, but kept enough distance for themselves just in case.

I took a walk to explore the neighbor’s property and noticed the separation of their pumpkin and corn plants. The concept of a ‘3 sister garden’ might well be something unfamiliar to them… I’m not going to attempt explaining that in Kriol just yet.

It seems that our neighbors are in a way applying some degree of permaculture in their systems but I see potential for more. It would be great to set up a course here.

This sunday going to check out a capoeira school in another town run by a friend who is also from Rotterdam. Should be good πŸ™‚

Enjoying the simple life here and hoping to get a fire going with my own project as well. I’ve scouted out some potential resources but need to know where I can get some other material locally… I might have to share my ‘needs’ list with perhaps someone in my company. But easy does it. No rush. We’ll get there.

I wrote the above piece during work… but after work I had a surprising Friday night come to greet me. Someone I met when I was getting my medical checkup invited me to a Chinese/Cape Verdian culture sharing thing at the National Assembly. It was pretty awesome πŸ™‚ here are some photos:

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Kung Fu demonstration… more based on acrobatics

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…yes these guys were jump roping while standing as a pyramid.

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My friend Meka playing guitar 😊

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After the show was finished, I still wanted to make the most out of the night since I had some friends chilling on the beach with the full moon. I wanted to do a fire show on the beach as well so made my way home afterwards to get collected, then went to meet my friends.

After a bit of a journey to get some fuel and back, I prepared my fireshow on the beach. They filmed a bit of it:

https://youtu.be/Ky3LCecyt-s

Good times here in Cape Verde. Its amazing what you can experience when you leave your mind open towards the possibilities. Hope to keep updated and will write again probably next week. Ciaooo!

Posted in Cabo Verde, Enterprise, Iemke, Martial Arts, Music, Permaculture, Travel | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Artista

Had a great weekend in Praia. Met lots of people and felt like I’m starting to get a better feel for everything around me. Becoming in sync with the place. Attracting opportunities that I never realized.

It’s been pretty hot lately. Even my Thai genes are like ‘whoah, something’s cooking out there!’. Doesn’t stop me from doing anything, although lying on my bed with airconditioning on for 15mins does wonders. And cold showers help as well.

Friday, I was somehow worn out by everything I did that week and took an easy night. Besides, I didn’t know anyone that was going out and I wasn’t completely aware of the festival that was going on. My plan was to go all out on Saturday anyway.

Saturday morning was easy, and I had lunch at a nearby restaurant. My goal was to look for some fuel for my fire poi that day. I went past the gas station to see if they could fill my 5liter water bottle but they were like ‘no, something something something *points in another direction*’… I figured what they meant was that there was another gas station which was a bit more easy-going with safety regulations than the Shell was. So I made my way in that direction.

I had no idea how far it’d be, and wasn’t even sure if that’s what they meant so I contemplated my options at a busstop. I wanted to go to the beach that day anyway but wanted to get fuel so I could do my fire dance once the sun would set. I figured if I met some people at the beach, they’d probably be willing to help me. So I started walking again.

At the first beach I stopped, I just wanted to put my feet in the sand there because I wanted to go to the big beach where’d there’d probably be more people I could connect with. As I walked on I heard ‘iemke!’ behind me, and I turned around just for the sake of checking where this sound was coming from that sounded a bit like my name. It turned out to be my friend who I met in Holland that was calling me, which was a good omen.

We greeted and I told him I was looking for fuel for my poi. Ofcourse he didn’t understand what I meant so I was like ‘I’ll show you’ giving him a little demonstration. His eyes lit up and he was like ‘wait, wait, you have to meet the guys’.

He introduced me to the band he was playing percussion with that night, who all flew in from abroad to play at the Jazz Festival. The band leader was Paco who was apparently a drumming legend having played together with artists like Marvin Gaye, Nina Simone and some other famous people I forget. His band members were also extraordinary players as I’d find out later that night… after I realized who these guys were I felt very lucky to be just chilling with these musical masters.

When everyone got out of the water to chill on the beach for a bit, there was a gap which allowed me to demonstrate my poi dance as my friend from Holland was like ‘show them!’. I got into my routine of tricks and movements to show some skills, but also feeling the vibes, being free in my expression. Paco was pretty psyched about it in that he started air drumming towards the beat of my poi cycles. I also hit myself on the back a few times doing some moves but kept my cycle steady and recovered which scored me some points with the crowd. After I ended, I got an invitation to come join them on stage that night.

After a bit more chilling and some meditation, the band had to leave for some preparation. I went to the other beach after that. I connected with some people there, and had a bit of a workout before I left to go buy some water, food and go home.

I was pretty tired from my day as well, and went to take a nap. When I got out from my nap, I felt like I just wanted to keep on sleeping but I pushed myself to go do what I told myself I was going to do. I got in a cab and left for the festival.

When I arrived, I immediately recognised my friend and he attempted to call me just as I was getting out of the cab. Another moment of perfect timing.

I chilled for a bit with the people there, having a beer, being able to communicate in English. My friend then let Paco know I was here and arranged an ‘artist’ bracelet so I could go pretty much anywhere in the enclosed area, including backstage where there was a tent with refreshments and a spliff waiting for me. A ticket to the festival would normally cost around €15 and I had a pretty sweet seat of the show where I was.

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I pretty much watched the whole show before Paco invited me on stage to do my light poi show during the encore. It was strange yet normal standing in the middle of the stage, with a big smile plastered on my face. When the music started, I started spinning. I felt like it could’ve gone better though, also because of the fact one of the LED balls broke and flew off behind the stage which gave me a weird exit. But hey, all for the experience, and I suppose not bad for an impromptu addition to the show 😊 people had never seen something like that before there. It was overall just a great night of sharing energy and culture.

After the concert was done, I thanked everyone and mingled some more with the people. There was another party somewhere so we all went to the other destination. I shared a cab with a violinist who was studying at the conservatory in Rotterdam; the world is a small place.

At the other party, I met some people I met on the beach a week ago. They had a whole friend group that was coming as well so the connections multiplied fast. I chilled mostly with them until the rest of the time… and I’d be chilling with them the day after.

On stage, there was a bit of a jamming session going on and I did another light show since nobody was taking the floor in front to dance.

Being one of the last people to leave, we tried to help this woman find her lost purse with credit card and phone and everything in it. She was being pretty dramatic about it as she was emotional and not thinking clearly but we all took a cab and dropped her off at home. I ended up sleeping when the sun was out again.

The next day we were celebrating the birthday from my friend I met from the beach. That day was also my mom’s birthday coincidentally. We had a nice lunch at a restaurant:

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Birthday girl!

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After lunch we went to the beach:

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I did some more poi dancing and tried to teach, played some ukulele, went for a swim, did some pullups and dips then made my way back home as the sun started to set.

It felt like I did a lot that weekend. The pace at work is a little different as there are a lot more moments of emptiness at the office currently… its a matter of waiting for resources, which is fine for me as it gives me time to think about my own business and write and reflect as I am now… but not very efficient for business. Cabo Verde has its pro’s and con’s like that.

We’ll see where this ends up. Ciao for now!

Posted in Iemke | 3 Comments

An easy week

This week has been quite a breeze at work, mostly because all the technical aspects of construction were solved last week and now its a matter of coordinating and waiting for resources for the next phase of construction which is putting the roof of the greenhouse on. I’ve been mostly working on personal administration in Cape Verde so I can work and live here legally. But I try to help out where I can.

We have a dog at work who’s name is Lati. We get along well, mostly because I’m the only one who seems to pet him. I noticed yesterday that he was a bit on edge, because of the heat that day but maybe also because he just ate a whole meal of spaghetti and rice which one of the workers accidentally dropped on the ground. I think the overload of carbs was getting to his head.

The foreman said that the dog also had some kind of insect/parasite on his butt somewhere, which at first I thought was a tick. I led him to the cool corridor next to the cantine and examined him for ticks. I couldn’t find anything although I did notice a hole-shaped wound on his butt. I folded his skin to take a closer look and noticed something yellowish which I thought was puss. I rolled his skin and the ‘puss’ started to slowly get out, so I figured I’d clean it by gently squeezing the excess out of his body. As soon as I started putting a bit more pressure to squeeze it out, out plopped a larvae about a centimeter long which started wriggling on the ground. Turned out Lati had a botfly larvae in his butt which may have also contributed to his restlessness that day.

So far I’m staying healthy though *knock on wood*. I just had a medical exam which took a few hours of waiting, less than a minute of the actual checkup with a stethoscope, and had to pay 1000$ escudos (a bit less than €10) for it. I was there since 06:55AM. They really should streamline the system by making it possible to do this by appointment because its kind of ridiculous how its set up like this… I put this idea in the suggestion box as well. Through the kindness of some people though, I was able to not completely get my turn skipped because I didn’t know how the process worked. Most of the men are pretty selfish whilst the women are much more cooperative I noticed. I definitely had some guardian angels on the lookout for me.

For the rest I’m also doing my Shaolin Kung Fu at least ever other day, getting up at 05.00am on weekdays so I have time for myself in the morning. The shuttle bus picks everyone up at 07.30am at a meeting point a few hundred meters south of where I live, though its always at least 15minutes late.

Even though eating out is relatively cheap (I had rice with vegetables and fish for 150$ escudos again the other day) I still cook for myself, also because then I can take leftovers to work for lunch the next day. Here’s what I cooked yesterday:

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It’s sweet potato, carrot, onions, garlic, olive oil, salt/pepper stuck in the oven and at the last bit threw in tomatoes and voila, c’est fini… accompanied by some queijo de terra (goatcheese) from the neighboring island Fogo. That cheese especially was the finishing touch of that meal. So friggin’ good. Yes mom, I’m eating well and taking care of myself.

Other than that, my business partner is going to visit my workplace today so we can see what possibilities we have. He’ll be flying back to the Netherlands saturday to round things up in Holland so we’ll see when he’ll be back.

In the meantime, I’m still in the search of a language school although I might’ve found something… will check it out on saturday. I’m quite comfortable stumbling with my cracked up Portuguese and throwing in English with enough hand gestures and tone so I can communicate what I need. We’ll get there.

For now, I’m going to have some lunch so I’ll write some more later. Ciao!

Posted in Cabo Verde, Food, Iemke, Martial Arts, Personal Development, Social Development, Travel | 4 Comments

A weekend in Praia

Closing off the weekend here in Praia. I decided to stay put this weekend as I needed more time to rest and there was plenty for me to explore in the city. I made it a challenge for myself to try as many new things as possible and step outside my comfort zone wherever I could. It gave me some interesting experiences.

Friday was my last workday of the week so I finally had time in the evening to extend a bit more with everything. I was waiting for some BBQ chicken which they were cooking across my street so in the meantime, I was playing some ukulele tunes. I think what made the most impact was when I played ‘Where is the Love?’ by the Black Eyed Peas.

During my song, I kept getting distortion from a guy that was sitting away from me, trying to rap through the song and trying to communicate with me. It made me mess up my lyrics a bit because I was trying to focus on articulating and remembering the rap lyrics. At the end of the song, we talked for a bit and I found out he was an American from Boston… and I sensed that me and him were on different planets. I figure the song struck a chord with him because it was almost a direct critique of his very existence, being the money driven, mysoginistic prick that he seemed to be. He liked ‘my style’ though and asked me to sit closer in which I replied that he could come in instead since I had other audience around me. He didn’t budge.

I played a few more songs, collected my BBQ chicken, then left to go home to eat my catch with some rice and veggies I had leftover, then called it a night after some writing and smart phoning.

Saturday morning finally gave me time to sleep in and wake up slow. I was going to make today beach day so I packed accordingly. After my morning shenanigans of things such as playing music, doing some Duolingo exercises and practicing my Shaolin workout, I made my way to the plateau to have some lunch since I knew a place that had Catchupa for 150$ escudos (which is slightly less than €1.50). I took the public bus for the first time, which was jam packed although I managed to squeeze in just inside the doors. It was good to experience what its like to travel in peak hours so that anything else would feel like a luxury.

Arriving at plateau, I walked to the restaurant and noticed they had quiche, which seemed appealing so I decided to go for that and have a vegetable soup on the side. After I finished my quiche they told me the soup wasn’t ready so I had a Catchupa instead. Big lunch.

I decided to walk to the beach in Quebra Canella to see what I’d encounter along the way. Everything really isn’t that far apart, it just takes a bit of walking to get there. It helps me to get familiar with the place too.

Saturday is a good beach day. I don’t know if that could be a pattern, but there seemed to be more young adults there than on a Sunday. Sundays are more family oriented days where you tend to find more kids and families at the beach. It’s generally also more busy as I’d guess that families have their ‘family day’ on Sunday. I figure that young adults use Saturday as their prime chill day, and going out late as well so they can recover on Sunday (and not go to the beach) which is why you see the change in demographics. That’s my attempt at inductive reasoning of beach demographics anyway.

Anyway. Saturday was a good day at the beach for me. I met someone I knew from Holland as well and we connected for a bit. I walked around to explore a bit more before deciding I did kind of want to jump in for a bit. I stashed my stuff next to my friend’s bag and took a dive. It was glorious.

I swam a bit, did some handstands and yoga/kung fu on the beach, checked out some beach bodies, then went to go join the guys who were practicing Jiu Jitsu on one end.

The guys I met were pretty chill. I talked a bit to the friend who was watching the other two train as he was more into surfing than martial arts. He was working as a chef on Boa Vista/Sal and surfed in his spare time. Cool dude. The guys that were practicing Jiu Jitsu were cool too, and I might meet them later next week for some training. I taught them some exercises from my Kung Fu workout and we chilled some more and shared a spliff.

It was a good place to be. I felt very connected to my environment. I wanted to nap actually but the sun kept me moving. I did some capoeira with some other guys on the beach and meditated for a bit before moving on.

I was slowly making my way back home but stopped to smell every flower on the way… which allowed some more opportunities to reveal themselves. I moved from place to place, seeing if I could make some interesting connections and also, to get out of my comfort zone so my world would become bigger. With marijuana, I tend to notice patterns and observe social dynamics more sharply… which could also be just in my head but its interesting to play with those ideas. In the end its about the resulting action. I was having fun anyway and took a risk by potentially making a fool out of myself. I did notice people observing me because I was breaking the status quo a bit… I don’t want to go into detail too much but I had some good interactions and I’ll leave it at that.

My water was finished as I brought way too little so I decided to get a big bottle at the supermarket. Again, I meandered my way there, especially because marijuana makes everything more interesting as I look at everything with more depth and detail. It helps me see the beauty in all that is.

Without a care or thought, I got closer to the store when my eyes locked on a pair of sunglasses with a pearly white grin underneath it… it took me 2 seconds to realize who it was in which I started running with joy at the sight of my friend and business partner who planted the seed of my existence in Cabo Verde. We hadn’t communicated, though our reunion was unexpected but very welcome. It was great to share how everything was going and good to reflect on our plans and means to get there. I’m excited for what the future holds in this.

We went to his (parents’) house, in which we shared a spliff and I had a grogue to calm my stomach from the overload of softdrinks it was getting that day. We talked some more and I chilled on the balcony before we both left to go our own ways.

As he brought me to the taxi pool, I observed him carrying his carry-on luggage which is one of those with a retractable handle and wheels. He was handling it like a pro as I watched him adapt to the terrain with it. The way he carried it was done very systematically and organized in a very no nonsense sort of manner. On a side note, he did serve more than 10 years in the military which is where that might’ve come from. But the elegance and beauty of how he simply handled his luggage showed a peak of the iceberg that was lying beneath the experience of this human being… did I mention that I get very observant when smoking marijuana?

We said our goodbyes as I took a cab to my apartment in Terra Branca where they set up a stage for the Jazz Festival that was happening… almost right outside my door which was cool/convenient.

I took some time to get settled at home and also had a spurt of musicality that came out of me… which is when I recorded a solo jam session that was inspired by my friends from Decision, a music making duo active in the Amsterdam area.

After taking my time to get settled, I made my way out. There wasn’t really anything happening although I talked to some people in the crowd and in the production. The show was a bit delayed, as per normal in Cape Verde. Since I saw a vacuum, I proceeded to fill that vacuum.

I made my way home as I had the grand idea of putting up an LED light poi show for the people waiting for things to start. Along my way, I encountered my neighbor and her three sons around the age of 10, maybe younger. We had a get-to-know moment and one of her sons heard me play ukulele and wanted to get lessons from me… which could potentially be a way to decrease the amount of rent I pay πŸ™‚ (as my neighbor’s mother is the landlord).

I collected my poi and made my way back to the concert area to set up at the still empty crowd space in front of the stage and started spinning my poi to the music recording that was playing. I remember it being good music to spin to and showed the crowd some tricks. It was a good length of time for me to move on and do all my tricks, as the music ended and progressed to another song at a perfect moment. I bowed, got my applause (and some whistles :P), then exited stage right.

I wanted to go back home to drop off my poi again but got stopped on the way with the offer of 50$ escudo capirinhas… I sat at the place that made these for a bit and ordered some pasteis de atum (tuna pastries) as well which was exactly what I was craving at that moment. Had some good interactions here as well… you get a long way with ” ‘sta fiche” and “tous dret” here, the Badieuw (southern islands dialect) creole of saying ‘everything cool’ and ‘all good’. It very often results in at least a smile anyway which are always welcome in my vicinity.

After this, I was chilling with some well groomed stray dogs who all seemed to enjoy the petting. There was one who was trying to get on my lap and kept on trying to get in between when I was petting another dog. Dogs are great though, who I almost always have good connections with.

I was getting pretty tired from my long day and I wasn’t really super into the music playing. It was chill and mellow and all, but I needed some dancing energy or something. I thought I’d take a rest before I’d head out again… but I never came back after that rest.

Retrospectively, I could’ve maybe pushed myself more to experience all I could… I would’ve had all Sunday to recover anyway as today I didn’t really do much though I went to the beach again and visited a couple more but like I said… different vibes on a Sunday. I did have a fantastic Catchupa at Hotel RotterdΓ£o (Hotel Rotterdam- of all places) though, which had an all-you-can-eat Catchupa Rica and a fruit salad bowl at the end as dessert for 600$ escudos (less than €6) total, which was a fantastic deal since it was a pretty well done Catchupa and I had two pretty big servings and picked out all the goodies. I’ll probably dream about that Catchupa tonight.

For now, I should probably get some rest so I can do my workout before work tomorrow and I might also now cook my lunch… I need to get a hold of some oyster sauce and soy sauce though. But I guess I’ll just add malageta (the local sambal) to everything later. Anyway. I’m done. Thanks for reading, and see you on the otherside πŸ˜‰ peace!

Posted in Cabo Verde, Food, High times, Iemke, Martial Arts, Music, Social Dynamics, Travel | Leave a comment

The first week in Cabo Verde

Almost a week has passed and I’ve gotten my hands dirty with work. My first day wasn’t really a workday, but allowed me some orientation for the project. As I’m writing this, I’m heading into the weekend and already I’ve had my ups and downs when it comes to work.

When I first started working, my instructions were basically: ‘The greenhouse is your project. Take care of it.’…With only introductions to key people, I was left to figure out the rest. I took some time in the beginning to give myself a tour figuring that the builders knew what they were doing (which was half true) but also to give myself a feel for the place. My area is the greenhouse which is under construction but I gave a visit to Flor de Lakakan as well, the initial seed of the project:

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Most of the time I’m at the greenhouse construction site however, where I give guidance to the foreman so he can instruct the workers.

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Here’s a panorama of the construction site:

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Oh, and welcome to my office:

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My other workspace is at the actual office at the entrance which is a bit of an uphill walk from the construction site.

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Sitting across from me is Jorge who is my peer and Flor de Lakakan’s accountant.

I have a bit of a rhythm now with work, thinking of my time in a similiar way as back when I was a young student in Thailand, having scheduled break and lunch times for myself but now with more of a focus on one project. The climate here is similiar as it is also on the same latitude as Thailand. The constant wind in Cape Verde cools the place down to a pleasant 23-27Β°C and you can pretty much guarantee sun all year round. Water is scarce, although there might be some interesting permaculture solutions for that as well…

I enjoy eating the same kind of food I had in Thailand, but with more of an appreciation for it now than I had back then. Sometimes I don’t feel like making lunch for myself so I’ll eat a whole papaya.

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…which is incredibly satisfying. I think I’ve missed tropical fruits a lot. The quantities of bananas I eat per day have also tripled compared to what I eat in Holland.

Even though it all seems great, there were some times when I felt like I needed a hand and had my doubts about everything… but people are very supportive around here and I quickly felt that everything’s going to be alright.

I’ve managed to get somewhat of an overview of the project and helped the foreman prioritise the work to be done. I’ve also helped figure out the deal with missing pieces, subtle construction changes in the manuals and entire areas missing in the manuals. Its like figuring out how to make a LEGO construction with pages missing and different parts given than what is shown in the booklet. I’ve always loved LEGOs though, and problem solving is kind of my thing, so I think the job is fitting me pretty well. Its even almost bringing me back to my childhood.

There’s a lot of freedom for me to do my own thing during work, within the confines of the terrain anyway. I get plenty of sun, fresh air, and exercise, often walking between the office and the greenhouse construction which is separated by quite a hill. I try to think 3 steps ahead of construction and spam the Dutch team with pictures, questions and more questions via email to clarify what exactly we’re supposed to be doing on the ground. It seems to be working so far.

Communication on the ground tends to be an issue sometimes. I speak English for most of it, but there are limits to my Cape Verdian co-workers’ comprehension of the language. I do my best to explain what I mean in different ways, and try to anticipate and interpret the other’s intention the best I can. My Portuguese is nowhere near as good as their English anyway, though I’m kind of looking for a school other than my Duolingo application.

Heading into the weekend, the last thing that is on my mind is how we’re going to put the plastic film on to create the roof. The recommended weather conditions are sunny, dry and windless…

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…and that last part is not happening anytime soon. Cape Verde is kind of known for its steady winds, which makes it great for windsurfing and sailing, but not so great for putting plastic film on greenhouse structures.

I think we’re going to do a trial run on monday anyway. Nobody in the ground team has any experience with putting these roofs on so that should be an interesting one.

The job is kind of like another childhood dream of mine of being an astronaut. Though Cape Verde is not as completely as harsh an environment as space, there is a lot of communication with ‘ground control’ to direct the limited resources we have here towards our goal… and I’m sort of the alien around here with barely any English speakers around.

Strangely enough, I feel very comfortable in my current setting. Perhaps because this is not a new situation for me, having been in such a state before, namely when me and my family moved to Thailand… and even though the digital love I get from people on other parts of the planet isn’t tangible, it comforts me to know that people really are just a message away.

This weekend I might head to Tarrafal with my English teacher friend but we shall see… there’s lots going on in the city as well so it should be great πŸ™‚ looking forward to sinking my teeth into the place. That’s it for now. Ciao!

Posted in Iemke | 2 Comments

The story so far…

My last day in Rotterdam consisted of packing up the last few items in my room and moving them to storage. I was moving in a determined but relaxed manner, something I also learned from Aikido. Around midday I was completely finished packing with a suitcase, a big backpack and a small carry-on backpack all ready to go. I still had enough time to go around a friend to drop off some gardening things and my longboard which was all just a bonus. I then also still had time to go to the Vredestuin and say goodbye to the peeps working that day. It was a sunny day, and it seemed like the sun wasn’t just coming to me, but to everyone around me as well. I said my goodbyes, then left to pick up my baggage at home to make my way to the airport.

I felt like I’d come full circle… except I’d grown along the way, and made new friendships. Though I left as suddenly as I came.

The train ride to the airport was alright, except next time, I’d probably just pay the fee for the intercity direct to Schiphol from Rotterdam… I was trying to be smart and take the intercity that didn’t go directly but it turned out I had to switch trains twice which is a pain in the butt with the amount of luggage I had. Its good to sometimes just pay for what you want. I talked to a Russian lady who was also going to Schiphol so at least there were two heads looking out for the right train and stop.

I arrived at Schiphol almost 3 hours before my flight’s departure but there was already a line for check-in. Check-in went ok, except the woman behind the counter had a problem with a power cord sticking out of my bag which I had to stuff inside and she wanted me to put my ukulele in my carry-on bag as well but I told her I’d just keep it on my lap… there was stowaway space underneath the seat in front of me in the plane anyway, but I guess she received training to be a hardass with baggage. My check-in baggage was something over 40kg when I was allowed 46kg so that worked out.

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Security was fine. Its pretty fancy-looking at Schiphol. I was waiting at the gate in a pretty tired/dazed mode so tried to relax before the flight.

During the flight I slept half the time, while the other half was spent playing ukulele and eating/drinking. The food was alright for what it was. Even though I was surrounded by young children, they were pretty well behaved. They tried to listen to my ukulele playing above the noise from the airplane, but I’m guessing they only saw my lips move and my hands strum.

When the plane landed for a stopover in Casa Blanca, I noticed someone sitting behind me from a picture I was sent by my neighbor in Rotterdam from someone who was also flying to Cabo Verde on the same flight. I called his name, but he didn’t hear anything because of his earphones. I then waved my hand in front of his face which resulted in a reaction and we talked for a bit.

At the airport we had some coffee and I proceeded to look for a power outlet to charge my electronics and play a game of Age of Mythology on my laptop. I found an appropriate table where a 23 year old man from Ghana studying in London was sitting and we ended up talking about business in Africa and talking about creating the right environment for oneself to achieve one’s goals. It was a good conversation. We wished each other well and I left to my gate.

The plane was slightly delayed which gave me some time to continue my Age of Mythology campaign mission, although I stopped playing when I felt the pressure of a possible gate change that I’d miss with my headphones in. I saw my friend from Rotterdam again and we hung out for a bit before we started boarding.

The second flight was good as well. I had a whole bench to myself since the plane wasn’t even half-full. I asked for an extra serving of food since I wasn’t sure about food availability when I landed. Loading up was a good idea. I slept alright on the flight although I had to reenergize for the landing.

I stood waiting in line for a while to get my visa. There weren’t even that many people but these things just take time. When I got through immigration my baggage was already waiting and I loaded up on a trolley and headed out.

At the airport reception I was looking for my pickup. It was easy enough to spot as they were holding a printed out copy of my passport. Fair enough. They helped me with my baggage and without much communication I was brought to my current place of residence.

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The apartment I’m in now is quite spacious and a lot more than I could ask for. I slept pretty well for the few hours I got some shuteye. Having no food, water or means of communication in house, I decided to head out and explore. With my cracked up Portuguese I asked where I could find the nearest phone shop and got pointed in a general direction. I had no idea how far I had to walk because I had no idea where I was, so I stopped a taxi to take me to the nearest store. After 200metres I already spotted a phone store so I got out soon after I got in.

After getting a new SIM card and posting a quick Facebook update it was time to look for some food and water. Outside my house there is a small corner shop which actually has decent prices for everything so I got most my supplies there. Sitting at home with my basic needs met, I felt myself moving up the Maslow pyramid and was thus seeking social connection. I let my family know I was ok and messaged some friends. Then I remembered a contact I met last time I was in Praia and attempted a message to get back in touch… within half an hour I got a response and decided to meet up later that day.

It was great meeting with my friend. He’s an English teacher on Santyago so his English is formidable even though he never left the island. I ate lunch with him at the market, at a small shop run by his aunt. We then walked a bit around the plateau and had a couple of beers at a place where there was supposed to be live music. We came too late as they started and finished early with it. We walked around a bit more so I could get a feel for the place and I took some pictures.

My friend, translator and guide

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View from the plateau

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We went back to my apartment as I bought some extra things like soap, toilet paper and cookies which I dropped off before we headed out to dinner to also meet another friend.

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Dinner was great. We had BBQ’d fish cooked by the roadside served with rice and vegetables, eating it on a wooden bench sitting shoulder to shoulder, whilst funana music was playing in the background.

After dinner I went back home and concluded my first day in Praia. Getting in touch with my friend was a good idea. He is an English teacher so communication is no problem. He is also a part-time tour guide so he can tell a lot about the history of places as well. Knowing bargain places to eat and joining in on neighborhood street parties are also benefits.

On the second day we visited Cidade Velha, the old city (literally) and the first one on the island. They eventually moved all capital to Praia because Cidade Velha was too prone to pirate attacks. It has some great views though, and a nice restaurant at the beach.

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Having 2 professional tour guides as friends also has its perks. When the sun started to set, we went back to Praia in the fully loaded shuttle vans they drive between places. No seat is left untaken. They even create space where there seemingly is non.

Back in Praia, we left to go to a neighborhood street party where my friend’s friend was doing his business selling capirinhas and hot dogs. I brought my LED light poi along and gave the people there a little show.

This is not me but a picture to get the picture

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Kids love it. I think the adults did too πŸ˜› but ofcourse all the kids want to try afterwards so I had to give everyone a go. After a few capirinhas and beers it was time to go home as I had work the next day… at least thats what I assumed.

There had been no communication with my employer since I landed. My neighbor from Rotterdam said “get used to it” about that… waking up casually at 08.00am the next day I proceeded to get ready so I could Ieave on first notice. I assumed someone would pick me up. As I sat there replying to messages I got a call from the office staff to ask where I was. Apparently I missed the carpool. Turns out that someone left a note under my door at 11.00pm telling me to meet at the busstop at 07.30am… I was already in bed at that time and I only found the note once I got the call. But well. They made sure a taxi came and picked me up so I could get to work.

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Work is in progress. The greenhouses need to be finished so production can get started. At the moment, money is just flowing out of the project with nothing coming in. My task was to basically manage it so that things can start moving forward. I spent my first day attempting to troubleshoot construction problems which came down to missing parts and unexplained pieces. I might have figured it out but we’ll see. Starting the day in an unorderly fashion didn’t help although I have a better feel for the place now. Will come more prepared for day 2.

I’m going to head out for some dinner now. Its really cheap eating out here. 200 escudos for a plate of BBQ’d fish with rice and vegetables. Thats less than 2 euros for a whole meal, and none of that fast food crap either. I think I’ll be ok here πŸ™‚

Hope to keep you all updated. Ciao for now!

Posted in Cabo Verde, Iemke, Travel | 4 Comments

Arriving in Cabo Verde… Again

After my first trip to Cabo Verde, the plan was always to come back for the long haul, so that I have time to set up the project me and my Cabo team had in mind… things didn’t quite go the way I expected them to, but they worked out either way, as right now I’m sitting at a PΓ£o Quente in the middle of Praia writing this story.

What got me here was my drive to make things happen. After my Cabo team left for Cabo Verde without me in December, I was looking at ways in which we could finance our project abroad… my plan was to go there with more than just my own money invested. In January I contacted one of the organizers of the Agro-Tourism program we joined in October. I asked for sources of finance but instead got offered a job with an agricultural project happening just outside of Praia. I sent my CV and left the connection cold for a month…

During this time, I started looking at other jobs more because my horeca work wasn’t getting the amount of hours I needed and I wanted some stability… I started flirting with the idea of getting a part-time office job somewhere. Through craving a change in my life, I gave a shot at reconnecting again with the Agro-Tourism program coordinator and received a reply soon after, giving me the details of the contact person for the job directly. I didn’t hesitate to call and had a good first talk over the phone. It already felt like this could be a great opportunity. We arranged a meeting the week after where I would visit the Dutch side of the Capeverdian/Dutch joint-venture in Aalsmeer.

My first meeting went well. They said they were looking for someone who had a Dutch mentality and could help communicate and coordinate the running of the greenhouse. My past experiences with Permaculture complimented with my BSc in International Business Administration seemed to be the kind of skill set they were looking for in a candidate. They seemed impressed by the fact that I attended university and that I chose to dive into agriculture as my field of interest out of a business background. During the first talk, I was told I could potentially be flying by the end of March…

The job itself also perfectly complimented what I wanted to achieve with the project I have with my Cabo team. They had infrastructure we could use, the same target market and other skills and connections that would prove useful. I was stoked on the match between me and the company. If I could get myself financed on the ground in Cabo Verde, we’d already be off to a good start.

After the second interview in Rotterdam, things seemed to be starting to solidify more. I was shown pictures of the greenhouse and schematics of the systems used. Even though I have minimal technical expertise, reading a manual and listening to instructions from HQ would get me a long way. I’m pretty decent at building IKEA furniture and constructing LEGO systems anyway. Same thing but bigger I figure. After this, I was told I could be flying be the end of next week… that escalated quickly.

Throughout this time, I didn’t communicate my progress with my Cabo team. Once I did, it came as a bit of a shock because it came out of an unexpected corner. I had to work at reestablishing trust and communicating my actions better. I made an independent executive decision and even though I felt like I made the right choice, it would’ve been better to include my partner earlier on. Anyway you look at it though, getting someone else to finance my stay here is a definite win factor.

With a lot of questions about the how and what of my job in Cabo Verde, I scheduled another appointment in Aalsmeer… I also ended up signing a contract in this meeting and driving up and down to Rotterdam to collect stuff I’d want to send over with a container. Everything happened with a flow.

On my way to Rotterdam I had a moment of excitement in the car where I couldn’t quite believe how this was all happening so smoothly and that I was actually getting a huge step closer to my goal in Cabo Verde. I tend to even out my excitement however, as I want to keep a cool head so I can make clear and conscious decisions.

In Rotterdam, I had to figure out what I was going to take with me then and there. I started collecting some items I thought would be useful and too bulky for airplane transport. Mostly things that would give me some of the comforts of home, such as books, sporting stuff and kitchen items. I worked on the assumption that everything is scarce in Cabo Verde so I’d rather bring too much than too little.

Filling up about 5 boxes, I eventually made my way back to Aalsmeer with the car they gave me to collect my things. That weekend I made another trip to add some more items to shipment before the container left on monday.

My contract would start on April 1st so anytime before that would be a good time to get me in Praia. They missed the initial date I was supposed to fly (25th of March) but I was glad, because it gave me time to tie up some loose ends in Holland. I felt like everything happened fast, but not too fast. It just happened fast enough.

I was able to find potential renters for my room, have my sister come visit, register in the town I was born in and empty my room all in the last week. I didn’t allow myself to feel stress through any of it, and if I did, I’d just take 5 and carry on later. “No Stress, Cabo Verde” is right.

Entering this new chapter felt like the natural thing to do. Even though I had moments of excitement, I felt pretty normal throughout… like I couldn’t have seen it going any other way. I was going go get here sooner or later and I guess the universe helped aspire to make it sooner rather than later.

I will blog about my flight and first day later because I’m kind of wrecked now… met a contact from the last time I was here and basically got a guide for my stay. Kind of felt like Anthony Bourdain. But like I said, will blog about it later. Will try to keep it posted.

Peace!
I.

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