For the past week we have been in Mindelo, the capital of Sao Vicente. It is also the cultural capital of Cape Verde. This is where Cesaria Evora lived (her house is now a museum to her honour) and all other Cape Verdean singers reside. We were looking forward to visiting this city that our tourist guide describes as lively and full of poets and artists and music. We are rather disappointed.
It’s hard to put a finger on what, exactly, we dislike about this place. The street hustlers are aggressive. Pierrick in particular does not like the feeling of being a walking symbol for money. Zeyno has mentioned a lack of joy from the inhabitants, but maybe we simply haven’t witnessed it? The weather has not helped. It’s been very windy, and strangely enough the port is in a tunnel of wind that comes from the North East and descends the slopes of the surrounding mountains. And these strong winds are cold. The days have been overcast. We had a bit of sun only yesterday and today. Nights require a few layers to stay warm.
The cultural aspect of this city has been lost on us. Zeyno and Dominique visited the Cesaria Evora Museum and don’t recommend it. I have been searching the city and Amazon for a book – any book – by a Cape Verdean author in either English or French, but without success. There is an art gallery in town that we went to visit 3 or 4 times; every time it was closed. There is, only, the music. Every 2 or 3 nights a show is put on in the city. Sometimes it’s free and sometimes there’s an entrance fee of about 10 EUR. Pierrick went to see the show put on in commemoration of Cesaris Evora’s birthday. He liked it. There, he saw some of joy that has been missing from our day to day encounters. We have bought several CDs of local artists. I especially like Mayra Andrade, who studied and lives in Paris.
We stay busy by spending time together. One night last week, Dominique prepared an amazing crawfish dinner. Two nights ago we had a movie night on our boat. We ate pizza, made popcorn (old school way in a pot with oil) and watched Kingsmen, a feel-good action movie.
Yesterday, Pierrick, Dominique, Zeyno and I hired a taxi to explore the island. We did what is the typical half-day island discovery route. We went to the tip of the highest point, Monte Verde, that overlooks all sides of Sao Vicente. We can even see Santa Luzia to the East. We then went to the Baia Das Gatas, a beach where the wealthy from Mindelo have their second homes. We then drove down to Calhao, a small fishing town where we stopped for lunch. After we walked along the rim of 2 volcanoes that surround Calhao. Our drive back was through the Ribeira, a dried-up river that is now a valley between the peaks. The area has underground lakes that create a long oasis stretch. It’s the only place on the island where there’s enough water to properly assure some agriculture. It’s impressive and beautiful. Yesterday was a very good day.
We spent today fixing, cleaning and reviewing the boat. I cleaned out the water pump of one of our toilets (very gross!) and cleaned and defrosted one of the fridges (much grosser than expected!). I have never cleaned anything so much as this boat. I suspect this is some sort of karmic pay-back for all the dirt my mother used to complain about but that I, as a kid, could just not see! With the help of Dominique, Pierrick has been cleaning out and changing the oil of our motors. Pauline has washed the deck and Hugo is fixing the railing to our outside tenting, which has come undone under the constant pressure of the wind.
I think I haven’t yet introduced Pauline and Hugo! They are a young couple we met while in Tenerife. We weren’t planning on taking on crew for the crossing apart from Clément, Pierrick’s godson, but both Pierrick and I felt compelled to reach out to them after seeing some A4 posters they had hung up in the port of Santa Cruz. They already had a ride to Cabo Verde a few weeks before we could leave, so they spent some time visiting these islands and have joined our boat 2 days after our arrival in Mindelo. We saw Claire off and simultaneously welcomed them on board.
Our plans for the holiday? Christmas Eve dinner will be on Slow Motion with Hugo, Pauline, Dominique and Zeyno. For the occasion, the men have bought half a goat! There seems to be a happy competition on who can cook or bake up what for Christmas. I am happy to lay low and eat the fruits of their efforts! The port has let us organize a Christmas brunch at their floating bar on the 25th. It’s a pot-luck for the other mariners. Pierrick and I had organized something like this in Santa Cruz and it went well so we thought it would be nice to do the same for Christmas. Next week Pierrick and I are taking off for a few days to visit Sao Antao. Hugo and Pauline will be taking care of Slow Motion and Moody. Clément arrives on the 31st. New Year’s Eve will be partying in the city. We expect to leave Mindelo for Barbados on the 3rd of January, which should give us enough time to mend our hangovers and take care of last minute preparations.