November 29th 2010: The hospitality of Mindelo, Cabo Verde

Enigma's Transatlantic Voyage
Manuel Ribeiro
Mon 29 Nov 2010 16:18

16:53.20N 24:59.50W


Hello readers, bem vindo à Cape Verde!


Upon arriving in Mindelo (Island of São Vicente), we immediately realised how much this stop differed from the previous ones. Colourfully faded hut-like buildings dominated the jagged, coastal landscape as we passed rusty tugboats into the marina. We were definitely not in Iberia anymore…


Once close enough to the marina, two young men approached us in an old, grimy dinghy to greet us. “Hello,” they said. When we responded with “Olá”, their faces lit up. “É Portugues?” they asked -- and friendly conversation quickly pursued.


As we came to notice throughout our stay, there was a clear advantage to knowing the official language of the country. The people seemed more at ease and smiles appeared from the faces of many that we spoke to. Negotiating prices in markets, looking for the best place to eat (not too touristy), stocking up on fuel reserves and generally being attended to, were all facilitated with a simple ‘Bom Dia’.


As for the reason for our stay, we were able to procure (on the street just off the marina, which quickly became a spontaneous market) large empty oil canisters from eager kids looking to make a quick penny.  Prices were clearly formed by supply and demand rules (amazing how such apparently unsophisticated environment turned into an efficient price-forming mechanism, with more buyers and sellers turning up by the minute).


We filled up on fuel and stored it away before lunch time, while others took several hours to do the same. Once our stomachs started growling, we were quickly directed to a nice, local (albeit a bit upscale for the local average) café. We enjoyed an absolutely delicious meal of the local gambas – finished off with mouth-watering fried bananas for dessert.


Regardless of language, the Cape Verdeans were extremely welcoming to all their unexpected ARC visitors. Many of the locals were competent in a few languages, and were eager to put them to use by tending to everyone’s needs. The young lady at the Marina’s head office, for example, was heard speaking French, English and Portuguese to all those in need – and this doesn’t count the Creolo that she speaks among her peers!


Generally, the entire atmosphere was very relaxed. This was particularly noticed by Manel’s experience of shopping in the markets. After having plenty of experience during his summer in Mozambique, Manel warned Boyan to prepare for an intense swarming by local merchants. Much to his surprise, the vendors’ laid back attitude reflected anything but desperation. This attitude was extended to any situation that we could expect to be stressful. We all felt very comfortable walking around at night and the boys even considered checking out a local club! Because there were only two of them, however, they felt it best to call it a night.


So although the winds haven’t been in our favour, the detour was not for nothing. We had a wonderful stay in Mindelo and consider ourselves fortunate to have had a quick break there. If you somehow find yourselves close by, we recommend a quick visit!


Due to our stay, along with the lack of wind, our estimated time of arrival has been extended. We are hopefully looking to arrive by the 15th of December – so we are glad to have our tanks filled (the boat’s and our own) for the trip ahead.


Until next time,


The Enigma Crew







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