Cabo Verde
July 2002
In July 2002, I took a well needed R&R
to Cabo Verde.  I had been in Sierra
Leone for 4 months setting up the
program for refugees in Bo and
returnees in Pujehun.  A week before I
left, I was in The Gambia attending a
SGBV Conference.  Here I thought the
conference would be a nice break
form work.......get to meet new people,
hear new ideas......... But instead I
ended up getting sick as a dog with
Malaria.  Not only was I stricken down
with this deadly illness, but I had an
allergic reaction to the Fansidar, as
well.  My reaction ended up melting
away nice patch of skin on shin.   To
top it off, I also got phat fever blister on
my face.  I looked pleasant.  
Fortunately the World Cup was on TV
and Senegal was kicking ass.  I also
had a fantastic meal at this restaurant
in Serakunda.  I can't remember the
place but it was by far the best
restaurant I've eaten in West Africa.  
Delectable.  They also gave me a free
drink for my sporty Senegalese hat.

Anyways back to Cabo Verde.  The
Cape Verde islands sit off the coast of
Senegal by a couple hundred miles.  
The islands were uninhabited until the
Portuguese came and began using it
for a weigh station as they conquered
the world.  There is good reason why it
was uninhabited.  The place is.......
barren.  When I mean barren I mean
devoid of all trees, not even a brush.  
However, since the Portuguese came
it has been well populated with
people.......and what beautiful people
they are.  

Cape Verde is that perfect mix
between Africa and Europe.   Each
island has its own flavor.  I visited 3
islands...Fogo, Sao Vincente, and
Sao Tiago.  Soa Tiago is the capital
island.  When you walk through the
market in Praia, it definitely has that
African market feel.  Really colorful
and exciting.......vibrant.
Fogo is the island with the volcano and
black sandy beaches.  It definitely has
more of a Portuguese feel to it.  One
interesting point about Fogo is that
you can easily find English speakers
on the island.  Supposedly, Cabo
Verde's economy is primarily based
on World Bank and EU funds as well
as remittances from Cape Verdians
living in Boston.  (In the 1800's
Bostonian whaling ships would pick up
Cape Verdian labor to crew their ships
and they eventually settled down in
Boston.)  So not only do you hear
English on the island but their
pronunciation of  "cars" and "bars" are
very reminiscent to the Bostonian
twang.  Sao Vincente, the cultural hub,
is a fine mix of both African and
Portuguese.  The people are beautiful.
 I found the food delicious and music
fantastic.  It didn't hurt that Brazil had
won the World Cup while I was the
there.  All of a sudden the drums came
out and people were ready to go out
dancing.  If you are ever in Mendelo go
to Picu Pau Restaurant and enjoy the
Rizo Martino.  The meal is so good
that it make the awful house wine taste
good.  Delicious.

My trip in Fogo was pretty laid back.  I
hiked the volcano with a couple of
Spanish tourist.......We communicated
in French.  Fortunately we all spoke it
very poorly...........The initial Volcano
crater is huge.  In fact people live in it.  
Throughout the creator you'll noticed a
batch of curiously blond headed little
urchins, who as I was told were the
creation of a Frenchman who ran
amuck.  Besides the horde of blond
children, I also found it astonishing that
they were growing vineyards and living
inside an active volcano...... which
didn't seem to bother them, even
though, they were briefly evacuated in
1995 when the mountain erupted the
last time.   The hole where the 1995
eruption took place is pretty cool.  The
land is jet black sand and shale.  Then
there are also fields of bright yellow
sulfur and deep red iron deposits.  

In Mendelo and Praia I walked around
the azure beaches and ate.  Mendelo
has great movie theater and a court
yard that the whole city seems to stroll
around each night.  So I would sit at a
café, drink some coffee and watch the
world walk by for hours.  

In general, the trip went by pretty
smoothly even with my non-existent
Portuguese.  That is until I went to the
airport in Mendelo to catch my island
hopper back to Praia.  My plane was
canceled which meant I was going to
miss my return flight to Sierra Leone
the next morning.  Being a small island
in the middle of the Atlantic there aren't
many out going flights a week
especially to a country that just ended
a bloody ten year war.  Basically, I was
stuck in Cabo Verde for another
week........What can I say, if you are
going to be stuck someplace, it might
as well be Cape Verde.   However, my
Portuguese was wearing thin.  You can
only go so far by saying Bom Dia and
Obrigato.  By the end of my second
week, as lovely as Cape Verde was, I
was going nuts talking to my self.
Fogo Volcano, Fogo Island, Cabo Verde
Lava Flow, Fogo Island, Cabo Verde
Blast hole from '95 explosion, Fogo Island, Cabo Verde
Black sand, Fogo Island, Cabo Verde
Mendelo, Soa Vincente Island, Cabo Verde
Mendelo, Soa Vincente Is., Cabo Verde
Mendelo Harbor, Soa Vincente Is., Cabo Verde