In 2015 I went to visit my best friend in Cape Verde. She was there doing a volunteer programme with children in S. Vicente’s island. It was the first time I traveled outside of Europe and I was in Africa, in a Portuguese ex-colony. We share the same language but the contrasts are obvious.
Facts about the city:
The language spoken is in Cape Verde is Portuguese, as the islands were a Portuguese colony from 1462-1975.
Cape Verde is the 3rd largest nesting site for the endangered Loggerhead turtles and gives you the rare opportunity to see these animals in the wild.
I was in Africa for the first time to visit my best friend Soraya in Cape Verde. I went to the city of Mindelo, on the island of São Vicente. It was strange to be so far from home, to see a reality so different from mine and yet we all speak the same language, Portuguese.
The people there are really friendly and welcoming but men are creepy. They say things like “psss, branquinha!” (psss, white girl!) or “lindona” (hey beautiful!) or even “loiriiinha” (blondie!). For them we, white people, are amazingly hot just because we are different from the women they have there.
I loved Laura, an Italian with whom Soraya lived there, and Francesca, who is Laura’s sister, who went to visit her on the same days as me (we even went on the plane together). I also liked Soraya’s friends from capoeira class (I attended one class), especially Carvão.
There was a night when Carvão took us to see the real side of the island. He took us into the middle of the favelas and I got super scared when we went through a tunnel surrounded by strange looking guys (Carvão told us after they steal a lot and they sell drugs) and they just let us go without problems because Carvão said to them that we were with him. He also took us to the top of a mountain that had a magnificent view and then took us to his cousin’s house in the favela and we smoked some weed there together.
Then we went with his cousin to walk by the sea, in hidden caves in front of the sea. The problem is that his cousin did not stop to say things like “you really are beautiful,” to leave the Carvão behind with Soraya. Obviously, I was not interested at all and when I tried to talk to him, we were like two deaf people talking because he speaks a lot of Creole and sometimes he did not understand Portuguese from Portugal. But it was a funny night.
I loved when we went to S. Pedro’s beach, with brown sand. The beach is simply enormous and almost empty. Sao Pedro preserved its fishing athmosphere despite being literally at a stone’s throw from the airport. In the village’s center I saw how the colourful boats are being repared and built.
I enjoyed strolling along the beach near Soraya’s house, with that clear light blue water. From there you can see Monte Cara (Face Hill). It got its name due to its lines resembling apparently the profile of George Washington.
I also went with Soraya to visit a typical Market in Mindelo, and strolled through the characteristic buildings of the city. In addition to the harbour in Mindelo, you can also admire the Mercado de Peixe (fish market), the Torre de Belém (replica of the tower with the same name near Lisbon), the bronze busts of Diego Afonso, the shoreline street with its beautiful manors and, a bit further, the Esplanada or city park.
In the Praça Nova quarter, an upscale neighbourhood with a plaza of the same name that has some pastel-coloured villas with stucco, the Quiosque Praça Nova with a lovely Art Noveau pavilion invites you to relax.
I also enjoyed a night in which we went to the opening of an Italian restaurant of some friends of Soraya and Laura in the rich part of the city and I found there my professor of the University !! Woow the world is really small! He now lives in Cape Verde. It was also cool to go out at night with Soraya’s friends and drink grog in the bars.
I attended an English class that Soraya gave to the children of the favela. And I saw the rehearsals for the Carnival parade. The Carnival in Cape Verde is amazing.
The last day on the island was awesome. Me, Soraya, Laura and Francesca went on a tour of the island with Alveno, a friend of them (Laura’s crush). We went in the back of an open van and it was amazing!
He showed us everything: the agricultural part of the island, Monte Verde (which is the island’s highest mountain and one of the few places of São Vicente covered with lush green vegetation), the volcanoes, the dunes, turtles and, finally, the beautiful Baia das Gatas. A music festival also takes place here every year in August.
I never swam in such a paradisaical place! The water was very clear. There are sharks there, but we swim in a safe area. We drank grog, a typical drink from there and went home.