March 16, 2023
We arrived into Cape Verde around 10:30 in the morning. It is our first port in Africa. Here are some shots of the sail in.
Our tour today was called Island Discovery. We were last here 8 years ago and spent time in the markets so this time we wanted to see more of the island. Our guide was Armindo and we were on a small bus with 15 other guests. We drove through the town of Mindelo where our ship docked. Almost 90% of the population lives in this city, which is the capital. Cape Verde is made up of 10 islands. Most are uninhabited and they are all barren. Many of the houses have no electricity or water and many are in various stages of construction as the owners complete just what they have the money for at the time. The islands obtained their independence from Portugal in 1975. Even though they are African geographically speaking, they have retained a strong Latin flavor. We passed by this fish seller just on the side of the road.
We drove to the outskirts of a small village “Mato Inglese” where we hiked for about an hour through the valley. The area was very uneven and unfortunately one of our group took a fall. He was OK, thank goodness. All around us were dry mountains, someof them volcanic. Armindo said that the tourist season is from October through March and that if they get rain at all it is normally in September or October.
After the hike, we drove to the first beach we would visit, Praia Grande. We tasted the local liquor, Alcane Grogue, which is made from sugar cane and has an alcohol percentage of 43%! It was too strong for me, but Norm enjoyed it so much he even gave some to these people who were not part of our tour.
The beach was pretty far below our stop and it was a short stop, so no one walked down. We could see the stark contrast between the beautiful blue sea, the volcanic rock and the white sand beaches. Many of the beaches are grainy and gray but not this one. The white sand was blown here from the Sahara desert, it is not natural to Cape Verde!
We then drove to Baia das Gatas (Catfish Bay) which is a bay protected by jetties and rock formations, making it very calm, like a swimming pool. I did go swimming and you had to walk out very far for it to get up to your waist. The name comes from a type of shark that was found here that looked a bit like a large catfish. Not sure if any are still here, but we didn’t see any.
We had lunch here at this local restaurant, buffet style, with beer and wine offered.
When I took a walk out on one of the jetties, I saw these rock formations. I am not sure how they hold up in the wind. You can see that on the other side of the jetty, the waves are pretty big.
We had a nice two hour stay at this beach, then we headed for our last stop, the top of “Monte Verde”, the highest peak on the island. The road was narrow and mostly roughly paved if at all, and it would up the mountain side. We had some nice views on the way up. But when we got to the top, clouds were rolling in and we had no view of the beautiful beaches.
We both really enjoyed the day. It was a nice combination of hiking, beach and beautiful scenery. When we got back to the ship and went to dinner, we heard that on the night of the 17th, we will be entering a High Risk Area (HRA) for Piracy. We remember this from the Gulf of Aden, but didn’t know it was also here. We got a letter in our room from the captain that there would be a general announcement in the morning and it included measures we should take while in Piracy areas – keeping balcony lights out and curtains closed during the darkness hours and what an announcement would sound like in the unlikely event of a piracy event.
Thanks for your brief commentary. What an interesting day to end up with a piracy drill.