National Geographic : 2004 Jun
One local song hit the top of the Cape Verdean charts, but the singer still earns his living as a landscaper. his poor English. One hit the top of the Cape Verdean charts, but Bita still hasn't given up his day job as a landscaper. Late one afternoon, while Bita is still at work, the mother of his chil dren, Regina Garner, slices green bananas and manioc in their two story walk-up for the family's dinner of fish stew. She isn't hungry herself, having eaten at McDonald's on the way home. Garner arrived in Pawtucket in 1989 with $20 in her pocket. The same day, she found work in a factory and a $300-a-month apartment. Slowly she built a life, one of happiness tinged with sorrow. Triste alegria. "I miss people, espe cially my father.... But over there you can't take care of your kids the way you want." Garner earns $15 an hour as a restaurant cook, a job that has scarred her forearms with burns. Out in the driveway the couple's sons, ten year-old Wilson and three-year-old Harrison, are playing basketball. In the dining room Garner's cousin Maria Lourdes Silva, visiting from Cape Verde, sits with a new baby boy, watching a music video: Bita and the band playing batuque in downtown Providence surrounded by women shaking their hips to the beat. Silva's baby is 12 days old, born just after she arrived in Pawtucket. She timed the trip so he would be an American citizen. Inspired by a place mat of U.S. pres idents (and his and his brother's own names), Wilson named his baby cousin Kennedy. The infant begins to fuss, and Silva settles him into her arm and taps out batuque on his foot: the music of memory, the music of survival, the music of faraway home. D WEBSITE EXCLUSIVE Find more 02860 images and listen to the lively Cape Verdean music of the band Amigos para Sempre at nationalgeographic.com/magazine/0406. Then tell us why we should cover YOUR FAVORITE ZIP CODE at nationalgeographic.com/magazine/zipcode/0406. Pulonga'l Bita (playing accordion) jams with his band; older immigrants dance to a slower beat. Cape Verdeans may leave the islands, but the islands don't leave them, linger ing in music and memory.