Friday, March 23, 2012

Serenity Prayer

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to changes the things I can,
and wisdom to know the difference.

I wanted to share this short prayer this week for three reasons. First, I just finished reading Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Talents. Actually, I didn’t really like the book, but it did get me thinking a little bit about religion, spirituality, and the difference between the two. Second, this passage has been my favorite prayer ever since I first heard Cee-Lo read it on the Soul Food album. Lastly, there are (always) things going on around me, and events unfolding that could affect my life in the present and the near future. It’s too early to know how this will all play out, and there’s not much I can do in the meantime, other than stay focused on keeping my mind right for whatever comes next...
Pura Vida,

Random feel-good pictures...

A birthday party at the Centro de Juventude

Falafel night at Jesse's apartment

St. Patrick's Day

English Class at the Centro de Juventude 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Big Fifty

Last week I had a small personal crisis when my external hard drive decided to stop working. I’ve spilled enough tea to have learned my lesson, so now I am in the habit of backing up my computer every month. Unfortunately, I realized that all my pictures from the South Pacific, my first trip to Africa, and the time in between were only on that hard drive. Luckily, the hard drive decided that it was not dead, only in a coma. The near-death experience has given me a good excuse to dig into my entire digital photo library, organize it, and back up the back up.

As I culled through photos from the last hundred years (literally), it was easy to get sentimental about the recent and distant past. Meanwhile, I realized that my next blog post (this one) would be number 50 since I launched Live From Tomorrow in December 2009. Since then I’ve been outside of the USA more than I’ve been home, and this blog has become my journal, my microphone, my hobby, and my therapy. I’m not the most prolific blogger, but I like it that way—after all, this isn’t Twitter. I’ve actually managed to stick to my original game plan of never blogging more than once in a given week. I never want the sharing of my experiences to become more important than the experience of actually living them. Also, taking at least a few days to let my thoughts marinate always makes the story and the perspective a little juicier.

Like I said, flipping back through pictures and past entries can easily induce nostalgia. But, even more powerful is the feeling that I am truly blessed and/or lucky, whatever you choose to call it. With that in mind, I decided to reflect back on the past 49 posts to present to you:

50 Lucky & Memorable Experiences from Live From Tomorrow:
(from oldest to most recent)

1. Observing Akiko Fujita interview Vicky about the pending military buildup on Guam

2. Visiting Pagat for a day of cliff diving, cave swimming, and Chamorro history

3. Working with We Are Guahan

4. Spending a week in Fiji

5. Visiting the black iron sand beaches of Waitakere, New Zealand

6. Sitting in with Storehouse for their gig at Wine Cellar in Auckland

7. Spending a weekend in Wellington during the IRSWS

8. Experiencing an epic Palais Du Chat loft party in Auckland

9. Doing absolutely nothing productive at Rotidian Beach

10. Running my first Hash with Toby as my guide

11. Visiting Robben Island with Sparks as my guide

12. Deejaying with Miss H at the Waiting Room in Cape Town

13. Finding inner peace at Kirstenbosch National Gardens

14. Meeting the Japanese referee crew in Cape Town Airport

15. Sitting next to Captain America at the USA’s opening match against England

16. Touring the Westbury Township with Sophia Williams-de Bruyn and family

17. Attending the USA v Slovenia WC match at Ellis Park in Johannesburg

18. Observing a Dutch National Soccer Team training session

19. Hanging out at Sakhumzi in Soweto, watching South Africa beat France

20. Attending the USA v Algeria WC match in Pretoria

21. Running a free soccer clinic for Black Diamonds F.C. in the Alexandra Township

22. Enjoying VVIP status at the USA v Ghana match, courtesy of Kgosi Leruo

23. Running into my old college roommate at a random cafe in Melville

24. Getting a tour of the African Romance Diamonds headquarters

25. Attending the WC Championship Match between Spain and some other team from Europe

26. Forming a human heart while Adrian flew over in an airplane with his girlfriend on Valentine's Day

27. Helping to organize the Mandela Day Project with the UJ OCE

28. Spending a week in Moçambique with Grupo Desportivo de Manica

29. Experiencing my first Christmas in July party, courtesy of Niamh

30. Spending a weekend in Dullstroom, courtesy of Craig and Nana

31. Spending a week as a guest of the Royal Bafokeng Nation and staying with Sue and Charles

32. Attending the UJ Women’s Day Conference and hearing Graça Machel speak

33. Braving a trip to Santini’s, an Afrikaaner stronghold, for a Sokkie lesson

34. Getting a farewell serenade from the Lebone ladies singing group

35. Being welcomed into the family at Wits University F.C. and the University of Johannesburg

36. Getting my Invitation Letter to Serve in Cape Verde

38. Attending the NSCAA Advanced National Diploma Course

37. Living jazz at JazzCamp 2011 and the Decompression

39. Enjoying Father´s Day, Jaime's birthday, and a 4th of July / Going Away party in the Bay

40. Taking a field trip to the Tarrafal Concetration Camp on Santiago

41. Co-facilitating a community meeting in my host village, Fonte Lima

42. Walking and running through Serra Malagueta Natural Park

43. Attending my (first) Swearing In Ceremony

44. Finding Mia and smuggling her onto the plane to São Vicente in a purse

45. Hosting a beautiful Thanksgiving Dinner, my first ever without any family members

46. Attending and surviving W.A.I.S.T. in Senegal

48. Getting showered with Haikus from around the world

47. Experiencing Carnaval in Mindelo, and hosting great people from all over

49. Hosting my Dad and Lita for a week on Santiago, São Vicente, and Santo Antão

50. Leitão

Last weekend we celebrated our friend’s birthday with cake and drinks on Saturday, followed by brunch and the beach on Sunday. Cathryn is technically a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV)*, except after completing her service and going back to the states, she un-returned back to Cape Verde. Now she lives here with her boyfriend, and the two of them have had my back since I arrived. We called ahead the day before to Santo André Bistro & Bar and told them to have enough pig ready for seven people. The leitão** was juicy, the caipirinhas were legit, and the beach was an ideal spot to enjoy the food coma. Until the next feast...

Pura Vida,


*We don't use the term "former Peace Corps Volunteer." We're kinda like a gang... you know? Blood in, blood out. Once you complete your service you become a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, and that's what you are for the rest of your life.

**Suckling Pig... that one's for you, Sr. Vallar.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

God Don't Make Mistakes

It’s hard to admit, but honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Since I first found out that Peace Corps would be closing its Cape Verde Program later this year, I have been through too many emotional and psychological stages to count. At first, I was cynically unimpressed with the decision. Then I was indignant and pissed off. After a few weeks of venting and a cooling off period, I began to refocus myself on the decision at hand: whether or not to transfer.

Now that I’ve made the decision to move to Mali in June, I find myself in a surprising state of mind: happiness. With all due love and respect to everyone and everything that I’ll leaving behind in Cape Verde, I wouldn’t change things if I could... which is convenient, because I can’t. There’s probably a few shrinks out there that would argue that this attitude is just my psychological defense mechanism for coping with a potentially traumatic experience. So be it—whatever works. I don’t believe in predestination, but I'm a big fan of the expression, "God don't make mistakes!" More importantly, I don’t believe in reverse time travel, regrets, or woulda-shoulda-coulda’s. Once something is done, it’s done.

Since making my decision, I have been more at peace with my service in Cape Verde than I ever have since arriving last summer. Surprisingly, I have hardly thought about Mali since writing my last post. Instead, I’ve found it so much easier to stay present and focused on making the most of last three months here. Luckily, there’s been a few things to make the present that much sweeter. Sometimes it takes a visitor or two (or more) to help you appreciate all the amazing things that you have around you. Fortunately, the last few weeks have brought some of the best visitors a boy could ever ask for. The head count during Carnaval included out of town guests from Washington, DC, Senegal, The Gambia, and the Cape Verdean islands of Santo Antão, Boavista, and Santiago. I never blogged about Carnaval because when the dust settled, I had other things on my mind. So, instead of rehashing the experience, I just want to share a few pics.

If you are interested in what Carnaval actually looked and felt like (as opposed to me and folks partying), then you HAVE to visit my friend's photo-blog. Bob Toomy is a fellow volunteer here in Mindelo, and among many other things, he is an amazing photographer. Here's a little sample:

After Carnaval I headed to the main island, Santiago, to hang out for a few days before my Dad and Lita landed. I only meant to visit Cidade Velha for a few hours, but two days later I was still trying to pry myself away from my new favorite spot in the country.


Then I was blessed with a cross-Atlantic visit from the family, which could not have come at a better time. Having them in town was a great excuse to visit some great places and great people...


Assomada, and my host family in Fonte Lima...


Cidade Velha (again)...

One highlight was my first ferry adventure to Santo Antão. All I can say is, “Damn, that was some good grogue and cheese!” I’m looking forward to working in a longer visit to the island before I move.


Earlier this week I handed in my formal letter of “resignation” to my supervisor and counterparts at work. As always, they are behind me, and support my decision completely. Hopefully, I can make my last three months here into the best ones yet.

Pura Vida,