Andrea and Ken meet a little bit of Africa

Trip Start Nov 07, 2013
Trip End Dec 11, 2013

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Flag of Cape Verde  , Ribeira Grande de Santiago,
Thursday, November 28, 2013

This has to be the most unique Thanksgiving that Ken and Andrea have ever spent. We arrived in Mindelo, Cape Verde early in the morning.  It is a very dry island, in fact the history of the island involves long periods of famine when the expected rains do not come.  There are 10 islands in the Republic of Cabo Verde.  The uninhabited islands were discovered by the Portugese in the 15th century and colonized by them.   The islands became important as a coaling stop for ships headed across the Atlantic ocean.  Not much call for a coaling station any longer so they are trying to establish a tourism industry, among other things.  Their official language is Portugese but they speak Creole amongst themselves. 

Many people emigrated from Cape Verde during tough economic times and now there are more Cape Verdeans living outside of Cape Verde than in the country.  There is a large group of Cape Verdeans living in New England.

Our ship, the Seven Seas Mariner, is traveling in tandem with Oceania's Marina.  So this tiny country had two large cruise ships in port.  The town was filled with tourists.  We went on a tour of Mindelo.  They did put us in a bus, which appeared to be a bus used for local transportation.  One of the problems was that our guide had a very soft voice and there was no microphone on the bus, as we have become accustomed to.

The harbor that Mindelo sits on is a beautiful natural harbor that has been named by UNESCO as one of the 5 most beautiful bays in the world.  We walked along the harbor front and saw many fishermen sitting around makeshift tables and enjoying the day.  Our guide told us that when they come back from fishing the feel full of confidence and they drink.  There were also many dogs just hanging around, some just sleeping in the middle of the sidewalk.

Many of the buildings in Mindelo are colonial buildings. We walked through the fish market which was very loud and full of impressive fish. We coiuld identify large tunas and moray eels, many small fish we couldn’t identify including fish that looked like red snappers.  We did appear to annoy the women selling the fish as there were a lot of us and we clearly weren’t buying fish to take back to the ship with us. 

We visited a square that was constructed by the British that the local people were not allowed to enter, well, actually the requirement was that you had to wear shoes to enter it, so that pretty much eliminated the local residents.  We visited a handicraft market, where Andrea engaged on of her favorite past times – haggling with the merchants.  Not one of them let her walk away, although she started walking several times.  She wonders if she could have gone lower- but really the point was to drop a few dollars into the local economy.

We walked through a very large vegetable market which contained vegetables we could identify and some we couldn’t.  They have a lot of dried herbs that they used for medicinal purposes.  You could smell cilantro throughout the market.  We saw there Catholic church, which was small.  We learned that 80% of the population are Catholic and 20% are protestants.

The highlight of our tour was a visit to one of the few hotels in town.  We were treated to a taste of the local alcoholic beverage, which was either glogg or pontche.  The glogg is similar to rum, and is made out of sugar cane.  The pontche was really sweet and contained glogg and molasses,  at 11 in the morning it was unusual.  Then the music began.  The musicians and dancers were excellent and Ken even got into the act.  Andrea will try to upload some video but it may not work from the ship. 

After a visit to a museum containing art from local artists and a walk through more of the city, including a peek into the local library we got back on the bus and returned to our ship.  Our Thanksgiving dinner did include turkey and dressing but it certainly wasn’t like being home.  However, Cape Verde was absolutely a delightful, vibrant and interesting stop.

This was our last stop on this side of the ocean and tomorrow we start the first of three sea days crossing the Atlantic., heading for our first port of call in Brazil, Recife.
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