October 18, 2006
I journey back home. Any missed connection and I am going to have a tough time getting home. I will walk from the hotel to the airport. Ilse the maid (she even has the outfit) says goodbye to me. I am one of the few guests to stay so long. I leave behind my beat up clothes to lighten my load. I pick up a coke and go for the short walk. I am early so I sit and wait. Slowly different folks arrive, the bartender and some kids to help out, the airplane guys with orange reflection outfits, the lady in town who runs the gift store at the airport, the Cape Verde airlines attendants in stewardess outfits, the Polici with their blue uniforms and black guns~ a rare sight as they guard the entrance, really very silly. There is no security check at all. The flight is over an hour late.
As we take off I snap pictures from above of the Acacia forest that I worked in the last two weeks. It looks wonderfully neat from the air, all the trees planted in rows.
A few minutes later we touch down in Praia. Here I wait another five hours, plenty of time to be surrounded by beggars. They are kind and leave me be after I buy at least one friendship bracelet. I go through security, the machine buzzes randomly but no one really cares. The next flight takes me to Senegal on a propeller flight across the Atlantic to the airport at Dakar. The guys have warned me about the dangers there and told me not to leave the airport. We touch down perfectly and take a bus to customs. There are soldiers everywhere in interesting and colorful uniforms. I make it through just fine until I get confused at the exit to the airport. I ask for directions, and get pointed to a waiting crowd of scammers. I am tired and don't quite catch on, but then realize I am being taken for a scam. Several people mob me and kind of direct me away from where I need to go, they demand twenty dollars for filling out my customs form with my passport number. I argue a bit and by this time I just give in so that I can find my airplane. It was right where I had exited, I felt totally stupid. Another wait of three hours and then it is on to Lisbon.
It has been a rewarding trip. I am thankful to my school district and Principal for letting me go. I am thankful to the folks at ARMADA for writing the NSF Grant and administering it, and for their initiative to see the value of this program in improving science education. I am thankful too to the National Ocean Science Bowl folks for sponsoring me on this trip. I am thankful to Clint, Don, Joel, and Eric for tolerating me and I am especially grateful to Prof Michael Hedlin for taking me on even though it would have been easier logistically not too. His unselfish support of education is what I treasure deeply.
There is a unity on the island, a knowing of its isolation, a want of kindness so that life passes peacefully.