Monday, October 31, 2011

Sugar and Spice

“Picked up a package yesterday and I was happy!

It was some boxes full o’ goodies from my Pappy!”

- “1-Luv” by E-40 (In A Major Way, 1995)

Tonight we will celebrating Halloween in style. And although there won’t be any trick or treating, I’ll be fine because I am finally stocked up on my favorite candy. After over a month of waiting, I finally got almost all of the packages that have sent to me since September. Just to be on the safe side, I requested an shipment of Sour Patch Kids from multiple sources. I can happily report that those sources came through, and now me belly full. Special shout out to my cuz, Quineen!

In addition to the teeth-rotters, Fauntie* came through with a massive and crucial cornucopia of tasty spices for the kitchen. Here’s the updated of the third shelf in our pantry, which just might put Pont d’Agua to shame:

Not bad, considering I live in on a tiny island with hardly in any rain in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Wait, did I just say “hardly any rain?” Yeah, about that...

So, apparently it does rain on São Vicente. We just get a year’s worth of rain compressed into two days. Last Monday, I woke up around 5am to take Mia out to xi-xi ("shee-shee"). I got about half a step outside of my room before realizing that I was splashing about in water half an inch deep. I thought it was just our toilet leaking (again!), but as I rounded the corner of the hallway I saw that our whole apartment was on its way to becoming a fishbowl. So much for Posh Corps**.

After a few hours of scooping, pushing, mopping and bailing, I managed to get most of the water out (thank the Lord for tiled floors). Unfortunately, that night found my roommate and I at war against the elements yet again—this time the water was coming in through windows in the kitchen. Both of us are Small Enterprise Development Volunteers—not civil engineers—so we were a little short of brilliant ideas to prevent a repeat of the previous night. The best we could do was slap some duct tape over windows, get to mopping, and pray for a break in the rain. We both agreed that what we really needed was some sandbags. Unfortunately, my shipment of Sour Patch Kids had not arrived yet, so we were short in that department. Next time I promise we will be ready with a candy-grade levee that will be the envy of FEMA.

There is a silver lining to every cloud, and this week’s storm was no exception. The heavy rains left the ground ripe for cultivation, so we got to work in the garden at the Centro de Juventude (CEJ). A previous Peace Corps Volunteer on this island ranja’d a whole bunch of seeds from the Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds company in Mansfield, Missouri, so now we have a nice selection to work with. After weeding and breaking up the ground, we planted three sets of seeds in paper egg cartons: sweet red peppers, squash, and watermelons. In honor of Halloween we also sowed a few pumpkin seeds directly into the ground. Maybe next year we can do a little jack-o'-lantern, pumpkin seed roasting cross cultural exchange activity.

When I got home I was still feeling the green thumb, so I kept on rolling. We’ve been saving our 1 liter juice containers, so I cut a bunch of those in half and filled them with some terra sabi (“borrowed” from the CEJ). In the coming months, inshallah, we should be harvesting at least some of the following goodies:

  • Pink Accordion Tomatoes
  • Williams Striped Tomatoes
  • Arkansas Traveler Tomatoes
  • Lettuce Leaf Basil
  • Licorice Basil
  • Serrano Tampequino Peppers
  • Golden Treasure Sweet Peppers
  • Bull Nose Sweet Peppers
  • Chinese Yellow Cucumbers
  • Ground Cherries

So, consider this your invitation to dinner. The food will be spiced to perfection, the veggies will be homegrown, and dessert will be sour and chewy. All you have to do is book the ticket. See you soon,

Pura Vida,


* Fauntie = The Fun Auntie = Carmen Anthony

** Volunteers that serve in Continental Africa like to poke fun at those of us who are lucky to land an assignment in Cape Verde, where most of us have electricity, running water, and a functioning government. Therefore, Peace Corps Cape Verde is sometimes to referred to as “Posh Corps.”


  1. Only you would think to turn the wet ground into prime real estate for farming. Good thinking! Keep turning lemons into lemonade, Andrew, and enjoy your Halloween sour candy!

  2. Sabe dimas, Drew. We, too, are starting a garden (at our house). Please forward some of your sour patch bounty to Santiago. If only we could cultivate those as well.

  3. Nobel Peace Prize in Science goes to whoever invents the Sour Patch Kid Vine