When we took first sight of the Cape Verde Islands, it was a thin line of sparsely grouped lights of the islands Sao Antao and Sao Vicente, half way through the night. Early morning light unveiled misty mountains, steep, not too high, somehow magic. They were just there, as ever since, certainly not waiting for us.
After another couple of hours we arrived and set into the harbor, first to the fuel dock, then into the well managed Marina, manager from Northern Europe. All staff greeted us with ‘Welcome to Cape Verde!’. It was lovely to be welcomed into a new country after several days on sea.
Now we had our feet on African soil, this time also politically African. We found a clean town with a couple of ATM’s around the corner and a the mobile communications company selling 3G SIM cards for 2.50 Euro, 3.5 Gigabytes included. So far so good!
The standard of living is definitely a different one here compared to what we are known from Northern Europe. This was a good exercise for our kids as well. Next to seeing what’s going on in the streets, one can easily spot that buying things goes with a different logic. Samples? As most people have no fridge at home, no fresh butter or yoghurt is available in the shops.
Or: As people want to consume fancy products but have only little money, soft drinks are sold in very small bottles, and cigarettes can be bought by the single piece.
A local helped us with finding fresh bread on a Sunday morning. We were glad when he offered to show us the bakery. Finally it was a 1.5km run to the other side of Mindelo and the bread was not really great. I offered to buy some bread for him as well, but he preferred to receive a large box of dried milk powder for his baby twins at a price he couldn’t have afforded. We went into further social engagements. Expecting some gratitude from the receivers usually turned out to be wrong. It may be like that.
Being asked whether independence from Portugal was a good thing, the milk powder man says that he sees economic disadvantages in the now globalized world. But he would also mention that his grandfather still likes the independence since locals felt treated incorrectly those days. Today, the relation between Cape Verde and Portugal seems to be quite friendly.
Low standard of living means low cost for basic things of daily live. This attracted a good dozen of old sailing boats and crews who dropped anchors around the Marina. The boat names tell about dreams which have run out of fuel, and those boats lousy poor appearance tell about the sailors who didn’t manage to find the way back into Northern civilization.
One of our better day trips so far happened in the Cape Verde Islands. We used the ferry to go to Sao Vicente island. We were rewarded with absolutely stunning views, see picture. As much as the Eastern side of the island is dry and brown, the Western side is humid and green. There are sugar canes grown as much as avocados, grape fruits, or papayas.
Back in Mindelo, we find the perhaps safest playground in the world. An armed watchmen would guard the playing children. His job description unfortunately also includes to tell the kids continuously what not to do. It was not appreciated when kids were running too fast, hanging head over on a wooden beam, or if only two kids would sit on a swing which was designed for four kids.
Now we are done with all preparations for crossing the Atlantic Ocean. Yuana is ready again and lots of fruits and veggies are washed and individually wrapped in paper towels. That’s the way how to keep them fresh for a long time on sea. Feelings are like ‘When can we finally go?’. All four weather models predict light winds in right direction all the way to Barbados. So at least the first couple of days should be an easy go. Markus’ brother Joe is now also on board and we are ready for departure tomorrow Thursday November 23rd.
Good bye, Africa!