Cabo Verde: São Vicente and Santo Antão

São Nicolao is no official port of entry and exit, therefore we had to go to Mindelo on São Vicente. According to JW it was a spectacular trip, many magnificent views on islands PHOTO 1 , a great sail and lots of sunshine, while P remained down below with a serious eye infection.
That was the second reason for going to Mindelo, as in the Cape-Verdian capital the best possible medical assistance is available. Going to a hospital is an adventure in iteself, the system of intake and administration is incomprehensible but everybody is kind and helpful. The ophtalmologist was very strict and this might be really necessary over here. Out on the streets you see all around people with infections of eyes or skin. The wind funnels through the mountains, blowing lots of sand around. And if the sand is full of bacteria... 

The good thing about Mindelo is that it is a great place to stay. The anchor bay is very sheltered, with excellent holding (like all around in CV), the boatboys are not bothersome and the town is bustling. Built in Portuguese colonial style: many narrow streets with cobbled stones. Women are selling fruit&veg and fish in the streets but there are also covered markets.
Mindelo's colonial name is Porto Grande and there are quite some reminiscents to the 19th century, when it was one of the biggest Atlantic ports.
The old customs house adds to the feeling of decayed international grandeur.
But Mindelo still has style; there is even a Clube Náutico with live music every night!
In daytime you see and especially: hear drumbands all over town; this is because of the elections coming up soon.

During our “obligatory” stay we of course had time for small trips. And in the meantime we found out that the name Cabo Verde gives a totally wrong impression of the archipel, as it is in general far from green. Cabo Verde is actually the name of the cape near Dakar (Senegal), so called by its explorer who arrived after a sailing trip along the Sahara coast. Yeah sure, everything seems green then. 

The 10 islands are very different from each other. The easterly islands, like Sal and Bõa Vista, are the result of vulcanic eruptions of about 20 million years ago, and have suffered ever since from wind and weather (erosion). The ruined vulcano's on those furthermore flat islands are only 400 m high. S
ão Nicolao, São Vicente and also Santo Antão are only 2 million years old and have much higher summits. The vulcan on the island of Fogo is still active, with a recent outburst in 1995.

On the Canaries we saw some drake trees, which were presented as a tourist attraction (on Tenerife one pays 4 euros to see the tree behind a fence in a parc), but here you find them all over the place. For free and they are huge!
PHOTO 4 The biggest trees are 10 m high and giants in comparision to the Canary drake trees.
What else is growing here: banana's (very tasty), mango, papaya, potatoes (deliciously sweet), corn, beans, tomatoes, onions, carrots, beet roots and lettuce, so we don't starve here. The Cape-Verdians eat fish and the langoust is an important export product. For us, meat is only available in the fridge so we don't buy that. If you live here, people come by your door if a cow or pig is going to be slaughtered, and then you order a piece.  

The ports in Santo Antão are not
big enough to take a sailing yacht PHOTO 5 , but the ferry takes you there within an hour. By aluguer into the mountains, over that good old cobbled road again, a nervewrecking ride. The wetter the road (the north of Santo Antão is blessed with lots of rain, which gives fertile soil; there are even sugar and coffee plantations) the drivers drive faster, and coincidentally we had a rather rainy day. The roads are constructed on the grates of the summits and the slopes are incredibly steep. PHOTO 6 gives an idea, as far as a photo can show the dramatic effect of the near abysses. They say Santo Antão is the most beautiful island of Cabo Verde (even more beautiful than São Nicolao), and as far as we can see now (score: 5 out of 10 islands) we agree. It is beautiful and really off the beaten track. We try to imagine the situation in 10 years from now, when real estate builders have explored the area and start building. On the Canaries it was once as quiet as it is still over here.

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