|Sao Vicente Island|
Mon 23 Feb
Mindelo is a pretty, colonial port; once the hub of the transatlantic telegraph world. It boasts an old fort, high up on a hill, overlooking the compact town, with the harbour on one side and a gorgeous beach on the other.
In the centre of town I visit an artisans’ workshop and find some interesting contemporary art. Outside, in the gardens I bump into a Swedish couple Jasna and Tobi and chat for a while; they're friendly and relaxed. We agree to meet later for sundowners. I call into a music shop and ask to hear lots of CDs from Cape Verde before purchasing a compilation.
In the late afternoon I meet up with the Swedes. The bar is not due to open till well after sunset so unfortunately the "sun" terrace never gets used and "sundowners" don’t actually coincide with sundown. We go and eat in their hotel restaurant. From the first floor balcony we can see people in the street below congregating for first carnival procession. In fact the restaurant closes before this happens so I go and stand outside on the street and wait with everyone else. Shortly after midnight there are fireworks and horns and the parade passes by, mostly dancing girls and flashing lights.
Tue 24 Feb
Today, being Mardis Gras (Shrove Tuesday), it's a public holiday. People have been partying late last night and have been slow to rise this morning. Most shops are shut. The streets are quiet. I go for a swim. I go for a walk. I buy a ferry ticket and take photos in the fish market. I hitch to the fishing village of Sao Paul and then worry about getting a lift back before the roads become deserted or dangerous.
About 4:00pm the Mardis Gras festivities resume. I have wanted to be here for many years and now I am. This afternoon's entertainment is family friendly. At least half the people are in fancy dress. Crowds line the route, waiting patiently. Unofficial performers parade the course, amusing those waiting. The streets are alive and buzzing. Eventually the carnival arrives, it reminds me a little of the English seaside carnivals of my youth. There are lots of children in the procession; and in the crowds. This is very much a local event for the local people although I feel welcome. Apparently this year is considerably toned-down from previous years as pockets are tight and elections are near.
Towards the end of the evening I run into the Swedes yet again. We're all hungry so we go off looking for something to eat. In fact most restaurants are closed and those remaining are exhausted. We find a friendly enough family-run hotel and enjoy several courses washed down with wine. It's nice to have the company.
|Sao Vicente Island|