"Tonight there will be a party. On the corner at the end of the block."
Four hundred miles of the coast of Senegal, the Cape Verde Islands (CVI) are the most westerly point in all of Africa. We arrived here after two days at sea from Madeira. There are nine islands comprising a land mass of some 1,500 sq. miles for a population of about 400,000. That's the basic info - the other details are what separate this place from the beauty and comfort of Madeira. MindeloCity of Mindelo - capital of St Vincent in Cape Verde Islands
These islands were actually formed by active volcanoes that rose from the ocean. The large island of St. Vincent is home to the port of Mindelo which formed as a large volcano's crater broke away on one side and created a natural deep-water port. As a result of this geology, Cape Verde holds some of the most infertile rough land in the world. Unlike Madeira, there is little to no agriculture here - early settlers brought goats that quickly ravaged any vegetation that existed and today there are only pockets of arable land where some basic produce is grown.
The history of CVI is short and not particularly sweet, due primarily to their geographic location. The Monte de Cara (Mountain of the Face) In the days of galleons and sailing vessels, wind currents made it likely that all ships travelling between Europe and the Americas or the East would end up among these islands. They became a stopping point for repairs and rest. Portuguese explorers discovered these islands in 1400s and, with no hostile inhabitants to confront them, settled here and formed the oldest European city in the Tropics. Unfortunately they also started trading in a commodity that was common with colonization at that time - slavery. For many centuries, various nations fought over CVI but regardless of the colonizers the slave trade continued until it went in decline and was finally abolished in 1876. The residents were given Portuguese citizenship in 1961 but the fight for independence continued until it was finally granted in 1975. The majority of the population live in the two cities of Mindelo on St. Vincent and Praia (the capital) on island of Sal. The main language is Portuguese but there is also a fascinating dialect called Crioulo common among the residents; it is a combination of Portuguese and various African dialects.
There are lots of fruit/veggie street vendors Mindelo is very different from Madeira - but it is still an interesting place and the people are equally Local mealThis guy let me take his photo but also wanted to see it in black and white! friendly. The Monte de Cara (Mountain of the Face) lies along the top of a mountain ridge and locals will debate with you as to who's face it is on the mountain. There are open air markets and lots of street vendors selling mostly basic produce and lots of fish to locals; and there are of course businesses now catering to the tourists coming to town. The islands are making a large push to develop tourism here. They have guaranteed beautiful weather, lots of beaches and are an ideal port for cruise ships and airlines - so there's increased development of hotels and related services going on these days.
To see all the photos from Mindelo, go to the St. Vincent gallery through the 2018 - REDISCOVERY link.