Sunday, April 29, 2012


When I last checked in I had just found out that I will be moving to Baranquilla, Colombia this summer to serve as a Peace Corps Response Volunteer for one year. At the time I was short on details because I didn’t have them all. To that end, I just finished participating in a three-day Transfer Conference in Praia with eight other volunteers who will be moving on to different countries this summer. The point of the conference was to prepare us for our new assignments and to help us transition smoothly out of our lives and work here in Cape Verde. It’s a little more complicated than it sounds, because between the nine of us, we are headed to four different countries (Benin, Colombia, Namibia, and Togo). On top that, there are thirteen other volunteers that are transferring to Moçambique and one that will be staying in Cape Verde to work.  Despite some unanswered questions, the conference was helpful, and at least I now have a confirmed date for when I will start work in Colombia: June 19th. I still don’t know exactly when I’ll be leaving Cape Verde, but it is soon enough to have me thinking hard about how I want to spend my last days here. 

As I mentioned before, I was slow to locate a piano in-country, but I finally did last month. Since then I’ve been studying with Professor Cachimbo at the Escola Municipal de Musica.* When I first knocked on the door I didn’t have any concrete plans, other than to make sure I sat down at the piano and played for at least an hour once a week. Well, Cachimbo has more than obliged. He asked me to sit down and play something, then he invited me to come in twice a week, on Wednesdays and Fridays, for one hour. After my first Friday session he said, “see you on Monday.” When I pointed out that Mondays would make it three times a week, his response was something along the lines of, “I know.” So I showed up the following Monday for my second lesson in Cape Verdean music. Halfway through the session, Cachimbo suggested that form a group and have a performance... O.K., sounds good to me! At the end of the next session he asked me to come at 4pm next time, instead of 5pm, so that we could have more time to play. Then, at the following session he announced that we would be recording soon... OK, also sounds good to me! So, just to recap, my one-hour lessons have grown into six hours a week with a concert and a recording around the corner. Luckily, I’m on the all-you-can-eat plan, so I’m still paying the original monthly fee of 2,000 CVE ($25.00 US).

Now I can finally say that playing music is a priority in my life (once again). For so many reasons I let that part of me slip away, or get buried in the chaos that comes with integrating into a new country, and into a new group of colleagues and friends. Two years ago I wrote an entry called “Why I’m Not On Tour in the wake of the Tiger Woods scandal. In it, I tried to explain how and why I came to the point in my life where I no longer wanted to present myself as a musician, despite the fact that music is such a personal, and important aspect of who I am. I still feel the same way for the most part, but I do feel like I’ve taken it too far to the extreme since I’ve been in Cape Verde. After seven months here, I can count on my fingers the number of people here who have heard me play or perform, or have listened to anything I’ve recorded. True, I still want people to know me before they know my music... but at the end of the day, I do want them to listen.

Playing piano every week has given me the swift kick in the ass that I needed, and recently I’ve been more open and excited about sharing that side of me with my friends. I even found myself free-styling at the dinner table earlier this week... that felt good. With that feeling in mind, I want to share a video from my last concert in California. A while back I posted a low-fi bootleg audio recording of the performance, but now I have the concert DVD with visuals and the good quality sound. So, PLEASE click on the following link to... 

If all goes as planned I will have some new music to share with you before I leave Cape Verde. Until then, thank you for reading, and thank you for listening.**

Pura Vida,


* Municipal Music School

** If you enjoyed this post, or the video, or if you just feel sorry for me, the please click here to "like" my music page on Facebook.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Plan Colombia

I was tempted to title this post, “Luckiest Man Alive, Part. 3,” or, “Muah Hah Hah,” because that is how I am feeling right now. Yesterday, I was offered the opportunity to transfer Baranquilla to serve as a Peace Corps Response Volunteer. Cool, right? Oh, you haven’t even heard the good part yet. I would be working as a Youth Outreach Specialist with a soccer program called Fútbol Con Corazón. Here is the job description...

Title: Youth Outreach Specialist- Soccer (Colombia)
Country: Colombia
Language Qualifications: Spanish
Program Area: Youth Development
Partner: Fútbol Con Corazón

Multiple Peace Corps Response Volunteers are needed to serve as Youth Outreach Volunteers for Fútbol Con Corazón. Fútbol Con Corazón is a grass-roots social change model that uses soccer to provide new opportunities for over 2,000 children living below the poverty line in Colombia. Fútbol Con Corazón fills the gap in before-school and after-school programs for Colombia’s poverty-stricken youth. Due to budget cuts and overpopulation, children in Colombia go to school for only half a day. In their free time, many become involved in gang activity, prostitution, the drug trade, or are recruited by illegal armed groups. With six current sites in operation, Fútbol Con Corazón works alongside various organizations to focus on youth empowerment, conflict resolution, decreasing dropout rates, and increasing gender equality. 

Peace Corps Response Volunteers fluent in Spanish and experienced in youth outreach are needed to assist Fútbol Con Corazón in extending their program and providing increased one-on-one attention to participants. The Volunteers will conduct soccer workshops and training and conduct life-skills workshops, serving as a role model for the children. The PCRVs will be responsible for attending monthly planning meetings, assisting with monitoring and evaluation activities, and participating in an orientation program to better understand Fútbol Con Corazón. Additionally, the Volunteers will provide feedback and suggestions for Fútbol Con Corazón’s current youth development curriculum, and assist the organization with their outreach efforts to the participants’ parents. The goal of this project is for the Volunteers to support site leaders in the areas of soccer training, life skills workshops, and health and nutritional activities.

Academic Qualifications
- Bachelor's Degree

Mandatory Qualifications
- Spanish Fluency
- Two years of experience with youth outreach/teaching life skills, particularly with urban youth
- High tolerance for sun/heat

Desired Qualifications
- Degree in the field of social development
- Background in sports, social work, or psychology


Hmmmmmm... let me think. Yes.

Pura Vida,



Wednesday, April 4, 2012

As You Wish

After my last post on Sunday evening, I fell asleep with two wishes in mind. Here I am two days later, and both wishes have come true. I made my first wish public when I wrote, “I would give almost anything to know where I will be in two months, and what I will be doing." Well, las night I got the call from Peace Corps, so now it is official. I am not going to Mali.* Believe it or not, I have more than one psychic godmother, and here is a haiku message that I received from one of them, just a few hours before I found out.

spirit says not now
other doors will open soon
this is not your fight

- diane

 Currently, the powers that be in Washington, DC are working to arrange my transfer to a different country, but it is safe to say that two months from today, I will still be here at home in Cape Verde, teaching classes at the Centro da Juventude, coaching soccer with GD Amarante, and studying at the Escola Municipal de Musica. It’s not that I didn’t want to go to Mali—although I have dozens of aunties scattered around the world who will breathe a collective sigh of relief, knowing that I am not being sent into a battle zone. I just needed to know one way or the either, and now I do.

As for where they will try to send me next, I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it. Honestly, I’m game for almost anything, but apparently at least one of my friends has a strong preference concerning where I might get reassigned.

Got my fingers crossed
That somewhere in our islands
Peace Corps will bring you

How can you resist
The beauty of the warm sea
Peace Corps bring Drew here

- vicky

My second wish was exponentially more important. On Monday my dad underwent hip replacement surgery, so I am one of many who have had him in mind. Apparently all of our psychic love transmissions are working because he came through strong, and is now recuperating and experimenting with drugs for the first time in his life.**

Pura Vida,


* The 165 Volunteers that are currently serving in Mali are being evacuated. The Peace Corps program in Mali has not been officially closed, but they are not sending in a new training class this year.

**When the sixties happened, I’m pretty sure that my dad was studying and playing basketball. Enjoy the painkillers Pai, just not too much. 

Sunday, April 1, 2012


Unfortunately, things are not looking good in Mali, no matter how you try to spin it, or how much you want to find a silver lining. While I still have no idea whether or not I will be moving there in June, I certainly find it hard to "plan on it." So, here I am again... back to the holding pattern. Actually, this feels a lot like the process of applying to the Peace Corps in the first place, so in some ways I am used to it. That being said, it is not where I want to be, and I would give almost anything to know where I will be in two months, and what I will be doing.

Right now, that just isn't in the cards, so in the meantime, I try to put my energy into living today. For example, I (finally) started studying Cape Verdean music as the Escola Municipal de Musica. I can't explain how crucial and therapeutic just a few hours with a real upright piano can be for me. They're not exactly piano lessons since Professor Cachimbo actually plays guitar, but its still a chance to learn something new, and shake the rust of my fingers.

Things are also in full swing on the football front. I've been working with Gremio Desportivo Amarante as the coach of their U-17 team. Our first game of the Campeonato was today, and honestly, heading into battle I was a little nervous. Let's just say that the struggle to instill discipline on and off the field is a marathon, not a sprint. I survived a near-mutiny in the locker room before the game, but eventually convinced the boys that we all had a role to play, and the sooner we got focused on that, the better for everyone. Translation: "I promise not to run on the field and kick the ball in the middle of the game if you promise to leave the coaching decisions to me." Fortunately, it looks like my tough love has not be in vain. They came out strong and organized today, and they dominated the game. If I do transfer to Mali at the beginning of June, I will miss the last game of the Campeonato... a bummer, but all the more reason to squeeze the juice out of every Sunday untill then.

Since my days here are numbered, I am constantly on the lookout for an opportunity to experience a new slice of Cape Verde. Earlier this week, we took a hike out to the lighthouse in Sao Pedro.

At the end of this month I will get a chance to visit the island of Fogo, which will be a homecoming of sorts. The creole in Cape Verde is amazingly diverse, with each island sporting its own accent and slang. In some cases, as in the north/south (badiu/sanpadjudo) divide, they are legitimately distinct dialects. I, on the other hand, speak a weird, unidentifiable-but-understandable version of the language that I have recently taken to calling Drewese. You start with a few semester studying Brazilian Portuguese in college, add on nine weeks of training in Southern Cape Verdean Creole, then relocate to the North for six months. The end result? Everyone thinks I'm Cape Verdean, they just think/know that I am from some other island. So, almost everyday a Cape Verdean finds an opportunity to ask/tell me, "Abo é de Fogo?"** I'm really looking forward to visiting Fogo, if only to find out what island they think I'm from.

Until then, I am living today, here in Mindelo. Until further notice, my apartment is still my home. Oh yeah, about that... my roommate, with a little encouragement, decided to adopt a kitten off the street this week, so now Mia's got a little sister/arch-nemesis. She survived here first bath, and she should live a long and happy life, as long as she stays out of Mia's food bowl.

Living today means something different everyday, and that's how I've always liked it. When it's not teaching English, playing music, or coaching soccer, its just being here... with my friends, with my colleagues, and with my neighbors. My friend, Sandro, just lost his Grandfather, so I spent a lot a time with him this week. On São Vicente, it is customary for friends and family to visit on the seventh day after someone dies, so we joined him again on Friday evening. In his honor, I wanted to share this haiku that popped into my head when I got home later that night.

Grandma and Grandpa,
we eat, laugh, and drink tonight.
You are gone, but here.

I also wanted to share a piece from a friend back home. The love from you all is what prevents my otherwise-immenent nervous breakdown.

Though it may be hard
   You are very much needed
Wherever you are

- nina

Pura Vida,


* Avo = Grandma / Grandpa
** "You're from Fogo, right?"