Mindelo, São Vicente, Cape Verde

View of Mindelo from High on Green Mountain

Cape Verde consists of ten volcanic islands, which are divided into a northern group and a southern group.  The southern islands get more moisture than the northern ones.  All but two are inhabited.  For those who are interested in nature, these islands have multiple unique species of flora and fauna.

We were originally scheduled for a one-day stay in Mindelo, but it was expanded to two days when the African ports were canceled.  On the first day our tour was called “A Stroll Through Mindelo”.  We spent some time walking through the city center, including the fish market and a vegetable and spice market.  This market did not have the beautiful produce we’ve been seeing in other places, but when you look at the island it is easy to understand why: it is an extremely dry volcanic island, and they get all their water through desalination.  There is no natural fresh water there.  Once we finished the walking part, we rode partway up Green Mountain to check out the spectacular views.  From there we went to a beach where we stopped long enough that I was able to look for (and find) shells.  Even though the island is very dry, there are still many plants growing on it, and we saw many flowers up on the mountain.  One of the really amazing things about the island is that most of the roads are built of cobblestones.  This includes the road that goes up to the top of the mountain, which is really mind-boggling to even think about.  In the city the roads have patterns laid in them in red cobblestones.  Very reminiscent of Portugal and Brazil, which is no surprise since these islands were colonized by the Portuguese.  Our tour guide mentioned that the island is on the same latitude as the Sahara desert, which would explain the dryness.  It also turns out that the white sand on the beaches is all from the Sahara.  That discussion reminded us of when we saw Sahara sands on the slopes of Mt. Aetna in Sicily, and some Dutch people we met said they get that sand in Holland, also.  

Dry as this island is, we still found it very beautiful.

In the afternoon we took the shuttle into town, walked around a bit, and then stopped in a cafe to try the local beer.  We were not able to get the same one Harry had had on the previous day, but did have two different Strela beers plus Super Bock, which is a Portuguese beer.  It was an enjoyable afternoon.

On the second day we had an excursion that explored the volcanic side of the island.  This one took us about ¾ of the way up the same mountain, where it was very, very windy.  There were quite a few sisal plants growing up there (the plant from which rope is made), and many rock terraces which make agriculture easier during their rainy season.  After that we went to a different beach, where we were treated to a sample of the local rum.  The drive back to the ship went through the Calhau area, which is where most of the agriculture happens.

Sail-away was quite spectacular.  There is a small island in the middle of what originally appeared to be a huge harbor (it’s really the space between two islands), which has a lighthouse on it.  The lighthouse is now fully automated, but at one time the keeper and his family would live out there for a year at a time.  Landing on that little island would have been difficult, based on what we could see, and the climb up to the top appears to be quite treacherous.

It would be nice to be able to revisit Cape Verde, including seeing some of the other islands.  There are more photos in the photo album.

© Susan L. Stone 2015                   rovingstones@me.com