After our three days at sea and a calm crossing, the first stop on our way to West Africa is Mindelo, Cape Verde. It is an archipelago country made up of 10 volcanic islands formed thousands of years ago. Once owned by the Portuguese, they achieved their independence from Portugal in 1975 and since the early 1990s they have been a stable but developing country capitalizing on their deep natural harbour and their strategic location at the crossroads of mid Atlantic air and sea lanes. Since the 15th and 16th centuries, the archipelago was important for the supply of water and rations to boats sailing to the Americas, Europe and Africa. It was also a base for the slave warehouses as were many locations throughout the coastal areas of West Africa. Interesting fact – most hurricanes coming to the United States form here in this archipelago.

Fishing is one of the major industries here along with tourism.

Cape Verdeans, as they are known, speak Portuguese, as well as Creole, and also some English, German, French and Spanish. Over 90% of the inhabitants live in the capital, Mindelo, on the island of Sâo Vicente, the rest are scattered throughout the little islands. The historic centre of Mindelo is characterized by old colonial houses, colourful and beautiful if not somewhat faded. Its money, the Cape Verde escudo was linked to the Portuguese escudo and the now to the Euro.

The day’s catch drying in the sun.
Palácio do Povo – the People’s Palace built in 1874 and currently an exhibition centre.

Cape Verde is better known by Europeans than Americans, for its warm tropical climate, sand beaches, wonderful music, and delicious cuisine. Its music, especially Morna, a form of folk music is usually accompanied by clarinet, violin, guitar & cavaquinho – a small four-string guitar-like instrument. It’s thought to be the forerunner for the Ukelele. And morna is similar to the Portuguese Fado singing. And here is an interesting piece of trivia – singer Lena Horne was borne in Cape Verde.

Image of singer Cesária Évora on a downtown wall.

We also visited the CNAD, National Centre for Art, Crafts and Design. Located in a refurbished old colonial house which has been transformed into a modern facility. The new facade has a brightly coloured wall, comprised of about 3000 coloured oil barrel lids. The explanation of the facade is that each of the colours represent a musical note and the arrangement of the colours produces a piece of music written by Vasco Martins, a composer from Sâo Vincente. Architect Ramos Castelano said, “the project aims to be an architectural exclamation that draws attention to the melting pot of Cape Verde. He went on to say that “when a material destined for the landfill can be transformed into a valuable and identity-giving local project, the architecture can erase the now backward concept of first, second & third world.” Impressive. The centre also houses some beautiful works showcasing musical instruments, the basket weaving and tapestry art skills of the area.

Beautiful pieces of handmade art.
The ‘you can eat off the floor’ market selling a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, spices and other commodities.

I enjoyed my visit to Mindelo. It is a lively, colourful town with friendly people and a history of music. Their economy depends mainly on fishing and tourism and it was a delightful visit. Our walking tour took us through the markets. I have never been to a fish market that wasn’t ‘fishy’ smelling and I really did not want to go in. (I gag a lot)!!! But there was no fish smell in there, and the fresh produce market was also very clean with the produce beautifully displayed.

Keeping the flies away from the fish.

SIDE BAR: Cesáre Évora is a well-known Cape Verdean morna singer and songwriter. She won a Grammy in 2004 for her album Voz D’Amor. She has performed internationally and always sang barefoot on stage as a sign of solidarity with the impoverished women of her island. She was known as the Barefoot Diva and the Queen of Morna. However in one interview she said she just didn’t like to wear shoes like a lot of people in her hometown of Mindelo. Her father was a musician and he died when she was 10 years old. At that time she was put into an orphanage because her mother could not raise six children on her own. She grew up in a house in Mindelo which housed famous singers. At 16 she was persuaded to start singing in a sailor’s tavern, and as they say the rest is history. You can check her out on You Tube. I particularly love her version of Besame Mucho. She died in 2011 and the airport in Mindelo is named after her.

Google Doodle honoured this world renowned singer on what would have been her 78th birthday.

2 responses to “CAPE VERDE”

  1. I am so loving your travel tales. Thanks for doing and sharing. I forward them to Joanie Macdonald (I’m certain you don’t mind). Take care and keep having your wonderful adventures. xoxo


    1. Glad you are enjoying my ramblings. Don’t mind at all that you forward to Joanie. Take care xxoo


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