We slowly sailed away under the setting sun. Flying fish jumped around the boat. A whale broke the surface. Dolphins played.
The suin was rising from behind the rocky volcanoes of the island as we slowly slid into port.
The sky was aflame and the light shone off the volcanic rock and reddish powdery soil.
It looked magical.
I couldn’t stop taking photos.
Brave Helios was peeping through the gold and pink shrouds on the horizon as we slipped through the gaping maw into Vulcan’s belly – the giant crater of a bay in which Mindelo was nestled.
The peaks and ridges surrounded us, creating a safe harbour from which to explore. We were up with the sun to photograph the event prior to taking breakfast in the warmth on deck.
Cape Verde, not so much verdant as rusty brown and dusty – no rain for three years! A set of islands off the coast of Senegal – but not of Africa – raised from the sea bed itself in an explosive inferno of molten rock and lava as magma erupted into air, creating islands of solidified rock and compressed ash, islands used by the Portuguese and British as staging posts for slavery and refuelling, as sanctuary in a natural haven.
The day was sunny and pleasant, but hazy as we set off to investigate the vibrant, colourful markets, the murals, sculptures, architecture, art and people.
The fish market provided an incredible array of tropical piscine’s including the most amazing brightly tinted fish I have ever seen – video carnival – all blue, yellow, green and red. Women walking around with baskets on their heads, men sitting outside gutting their catch, gaily painted boats lined up on the beach, cats lurking, dogs sleeping, women hawking fish and vegetables in baskets on the street with babies sitting in the crates, men with dreadlocks, colourful clothing, gaily painted houses, busy traffic, fruit and vegetables, and African carvings.
We climbed to the top of the copy of the Lisbon Belem Tower for a great view over the town, walked through the fish markets to the African Market with its blue tiles of scenes of Cape Verde from the past, and then to the indoor vegetable market with fabulous wooden roof and murals.
We looked at the art, watched the people, visited the palace and the church, and enjoyed an array of painted buildings.
We walked along a beach of white sand, stopped at the café, drank a coffee, a beer, an orange juice, failed to get wi-fi, and then went back to the ship to eat, sit in the sun to watch the islands disappear as we sailed off – and then read about the weather in Britain.
As we moved through the sea from Gran Canaria towards Cape Verde the sea became calm and the weather warmed. We were off the coast of Africa breathing African air. Its where us humans originated.
I stood at the bow of the ship and breathed it in.
It was early in the morning. I got out of my bunk and headed for the deck. I wanted to catch sight of the sun rising and get my first glimpse of Cape Verde.
As the sun rose lan came into sight. We slowly churned through a gentle ocean towards it.
The sun rose behind the volcanic island, directly behind Sao Vincente. It lit up the volcanic rock and soil into a rich orangey red. An rock island of dark hue stood out starkly in the water in front of those ridges. You could see the volcanic nature clearly.
There was a natural harbour full of sheltering ships bobbing on the waves and caught in the low orange light as silhouettes as we slid into the bay.
My camera clicked. There were too many sights to take in.
We walked round the town and sat on the beach watching fishermen sorting nets and dragging tatty boats into the waves. We went round the fish market where women carried tubs of fish on their heads and trays of red, yellow and orange fish gleamed in trays. Fish with blue luminescent spots, mottle orange eels and brown and silver fish. Big fish and little fish. All types that I’d never seen before.
We took a taxi to the top of the volcano and looked back over a dusty landscape that had its own stark beauty or reddish soil and rock, and peered down to the blue waters of the bay and the ships. Parts looked like the surface of the moon but there were some shrubs and lower down there were goats and egrets.
We walked around the market and talked to the locals. We looked at the buildings with their decaying Portuguese grandeur and peered at the blue tile-work depicting the scenes of the beautiful town it used to be. What had once been pristine with splendour was now settled into a shabby chic.
We walked round the fruit market in its splendid building. There were tiles depicting women that looked like they were Picassos and scenes of the women carrying baskets of produce on their heads.
Back on the ship it was time to head out across the Atlantic for four days in the doldrums. There were sunsets, flying fish, whales, turtles and seabirds to look forward to.
I sat at the bow with a beer and watched the volcanic cliffs slide into the past as the sun shone the orange light of sunset upon them.
What was ahead had to be outstanding to match what had been.
I thought it might be.
Heading in to Sao Vincente at dawn
The sun was shining on the volcanic rock
Cape Verde is a number of volcanic islands 400 miles off Africa.
This is Mindelo.
Sao Vincente is the town.
It’s a fishing town with Portuguese heritage. The people were friendly and poor.
Looking down at the town from the hills.
The picturesque volcanic interior
Looking down to the bay with our little bpoat
The fruit market
The fish market
The centre of town
Heading back out and off over the Atlantic to South America.