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Africa for beginners

Olivier boeg
The seasick crossing
February 23, 2017
Bootliften uitgelicht
Different paths
March 26, 2017
 

February 12th - Harbour Mindelo

 

After the heavy crossing we arrive in Mindelo. For African standards a very quiet city with a Western look. Maintained architecture, asphalted roads and cars who stop at zebra crossings. The language is Portugees, though most are able to speak French. The city suffers from a schizophrenic face, because, although it is trying hard, it won’t loos the African one. The first thing we see is a men who is walking with his monkey on a leash. While on short distance a women is balancing with an enormous barrel on her head. On a wall a group of man is hanging around, waiting for time that already past. This is what makes the city feel like Africa, but nothing more. We expected more poverty and culture difference, like we know from previous visits to African counties. To adapt we take off the earrings and sunglasses, but we are the exception in town.

 

It might have been the Christian religion that keeps the streets calm, because on Monday the city wakes up. Nevertheless, it are mostly the streets around the market place that give the African feeling. As if you bump into it, the colours and smells are magnificent. Woman in beautiful clothes selling their fruit. Who can’t pay the market stall, sells on the street. Pails with fish, bags with appels and bunches of bananas wander from the one to the other spot. It are the streets around the square that are local and cheap. The street-restaurant in the middle of the market, the haircutter on the street next door and the bar on the corner boost form nostalgia and cultural wealth. Photogenic, but to try out one step to far. The ladies will mew like a pig and point at you as if you are an escaped prisoner. We try the street-restaurant later and have know idea what we are chewing on, but it’s tastes well.

It takes a few days to recover from the crossing. Mentally we are tired and not ready for the next. Already for three weeks we have been living together on a small surface, which makes it very intensive and gives new balances We need some mental and physical space and go for a few days to the other island Saõ Antaõ, a hikers paradise. With backpack and tent we explore the green hills between the drought, but that’s for another story. More and more we realise how unique their invitation is. Most of the sail-hitchers cross in one go, which counts up to a maximum of 25 days. We will live together with Dieter and Margrit for three months, thats a quarter of a year! It requires adjustment and some tensions are part of it, but most of all, we are very thankful, and everyday we get closer to each other.

 

The month Februari is all about carnaval. At least, that is what they say. Indeed, we hear music every night, and see tiny defiles passing by, but count not more than thirty man. We doubt the words ‘small Rio’ but hope for a glamorous festival later this month. Worth a discussion, are the black man who cover themselves with pitch-black oil. While in The Netherlands, everybody is breaking legs about the so called ‘zwarten-pieten-discussie’, where black facial paint seem to have a connection with racism and slavery. Capo Verde has been a center of slavery for years, though they are proud to wear black makeup. Later we hear they chase ghosts in preparation for ‘the’ big party.

After one and a half week on anchorage, life becomes a daily habit. We can cook normally, wash our clothes, clean the boat, we still don’t take showers and we work everyday day in one of the bars. These normal activities, reminds of home. There we did the same, but it was all just a little more convenient. We don’t need to paddle with the dinghy to go on shore, nobody has to watch the boat, there is always good internet and there is no better place for french fries than like home. Is it home sickness, or just not? It is a sign that we need more excitement, because we were not looking for a daily grind on our world trip. Yes it is home sickness, to adventure.

 

Just on time we set sail to the next island. We just hope Olivier doesn’t feel sick and can enjoy the trip. Entering Mindelo by sailing boat was a new and special experience. Luxury sailing yachts lay between the shipwrecks from another century. Half on land perishes an old, third or-forth-hands, cruise ship. It looks like an open-air museum, but without purpose. Poorness exist in the city of Mindelo, but there is also a wealth that shines. Drinkable water from the tap, brand new cars and beautiful houses from concrete. Yes, 'this is Africa', for beginners.

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