Cabo Verde (Cape Verde), that country my parents left over 40 years ago to find a better life and to which I crave to return now!
It is situated on the shores of West Africa. It’s a nation that counts more capeverdeans outside the country than inside. We are literally EVERYWHERE in the world, with a big concentration in the Netherlands, Portugal, Canada, France and the USA.
10 islands with each its own beauty, the most kind and welcoming people you will find. We are mostly a mixed race due to our history, you can find light skinned blonds with blue eyes to very dark skinned beauties.
Also we have a magnificent Carnival which I heard is the most beautiful after Rio and for participating in it this year I can tell you that it’s pretty amazing!! I was blown away.
- Carnaval de Mindelo, Sao Vicente
It all started out as a joke for me. I had always wanted to see the Carnival in Mindelo on the island of Sao Vicente and made it a point to be there this year. You know when you want to travel the world and go everywhere except where you come from because you think it will always be there…
So as soon as I was sure to have my vacation at that time I booked my tickets!
Then my cousin who participated in the Carnival last year said “Doris you should participate with me”…I was like yeah sure sweetie :p but it was a yes and she was dead serious and once I give my word I don’t like to bail on people…
So here we go, I leave Luxembourg on February 24th, arrive in Sao Vicente on the next day (it’s a 6hours flight total from Lux but had an overnight layover in Lisbon). Had to rush to the costume maker for her to get my measures. She had 2 days to get my whole costume done. I must say I was pretty impressed with their work, very quick and professional. So the morning of Carnival, on the 28th I got my costume all done and ready.
But the Carnival had already started before I got there. Through the whole month of February the streets of Mindelo are packed with disguised people and colorful parades.
Our parade was on the last official Carnaval day. My group Monte Sossego or Montesu like we say, was the first to hit the streets of Mindelo for a tour of 4 hours.
When we arrived there I was amazed! All that work it takes to make that magic happen. The floats were all spectacular and beautifully colored. To be honest I wasn’t thrilled to do it. I’m quite shy and not an outgoing person so I was a bit anxious, but once I was on that float I was like “Wow, I’m so blessed and lucky to be here and be part of this”. So I totally enjoyed myself and I was proud of myself for doing it once it was over.
- Visit to Santiago
This time I absolutely wanted to visit our capital, Praia situated on the Island of Santiago.
Cape Verde is divided into two groups of Islands: the northern Islands (Santo Antao, Sao Vicente, Santa Luzia, Sao Nicolau, Sal and Boa Vista) also called Barlavento (Windward) and the southern Islands (Brava, Fogo, Santiago and Maio) called Sotavento (Leeward).
In Barlavento we are mostly mixed and light skinned with more european influences. Sotavento people are mostly dark skinned and stayed closer to the African roots.
Cape Verde was uninhabited until Portuguese navigators discovered it in 1456 and founded the first European colony in the tropics on the Island of Santiago. The city of Ribeira Grande, now Cidade Velha (Old City) was the first city in Cape Verde and was a first stop for the transatlantic slave trade on the shores of Africa. It was also the first christian city established in Africa.
The city flourished thanks to slave trade and was attacked several times by pirates, french and english navigators. Due to these attacks people fled from Ribera Grande to Praia which became the new Capital.
After the decline of slave trade the port of Mindelo became the first economical attraction. That’s where the navigators stopped for supplies on their way around the World.
Cidade Velha is a place where you feel the emotion of one of humanities biggest drama that still has a huge impact on the descendants of those people who were taken from their motherland Africa against their will. Cape Verdeans have the same roots as African Americans and Afro Carribean people, we just got off the slave ships a bit earlier than them and closer to home.
We spent a few days in Praia, which is a very modern and pleasant city, staying in a residence with a breathtaking view on the sea. We visited the outdoor market Sucupira where you can find everything you need. They sell gorgeous African fabrics and even create your clothes within two days. You can buy shoes, clothes, souvenirs and even get your hair and nails done.
We took a drive through the Island to visit Tarrafal. It’s situated on the other side of the Island and the drive there takes you through beautiful sceneries whether through the mountains or along the shores of Santiago.
The beach of Tarrafal is a very beautiful and peaceful place. Women come to offer you coconut water from the coconut they cut right in front of you and when you finish drinking it they come back to completely cut it open so you can eat the flesh from it. After that we had a good caipirinha. An Italian woman who went on vacation there never left and now sells those delish caipirinhas on the beach of Tarrafal. What a life!
There is a kind of stupid rivalry between Barlavento and Sotavento inhabitants and everybody told me “What are you going to do in Praia??” I told them I was doing something for my general knowledge. And let me tell you that if I could I would have stayed longer in Santiago.
- Back to Santo Antao
After five lovely days in Santiago with the most amazing host, my cousin and I flew back to Sao Vicente and we took the boat on the next morning to Santo Antao. It’s a one hour sea crossing from Sao Vicente. You can actually see the Island on the other side when the sky is clear.
I’ve been travelling to Cape Verde for a while now but this time I noticed an important number of tourists. The boat was packed with Europeans, barely one Capeverdean…
They come to Santo Antao to do trekkings in the mountains. I was chocked to see white women walk around alone under the hot burning sun. I mean I would never do it alone!
Santo Antao is our cradle, there’s not much going on there but we always go back to chill and have some less hectic time than in Mindelo.
My uncle was so kind to give me his car for a few days so we drove to Ponta de Sol to buy fresh fish. Then we went to Paùl, a beautiful place in the mountains so green with plants and food. Just the loveliest place!! The way there was a bit perilous as they are working on the roads to bring the water from there to the city. The girls named me driver of the year. Apparently I drive better than most guys there :p
So I spent the loveliest 2 weeks in my Motherland with my bestie, her daughter, her cousin and my cousin. I want to thank them for the amazing company. And cheers to the new friends I made, and to the old ones I got to spend time with.
I didn’t want to leave and I’ll be back sooner than later this year.
Thanks for reading.
Love and Light