Cape Verde is an archipelago of about ten islands located west of Senegal.
The entrance for sailboats could be done in Praia (Santiago Island), Mindelo (Sao Vincente Island) or Palmeira (Sal Island) which is our arrival destination.
Contrary to Praia or Mindelo, Palmeria is a small city. Life is peaceful, people caring and helpful. The official language is Portuguese. Few people speak English and even less French, which doesn’t facilitate contacts! But, with a lit bit English, Spanish, gestural and... Google translation we can communicate!
Sal Island is the most touristic island of the archipelago. It’s a volcanic island, very desert but with very beautiful beaches. People live mainly from fishing and tourism. We met Jair who is BoyBoat (see interview page). He do is best to help boaters by offering them all possible services!! He spoke a lot, with us, about life in Cape Verde, difficulties of people but also the need of mutual help for people in huge difficulty.
After Palmeria, we go to Tarrafal in Sao Nicolau Island. This city is a lit bit more important than the previous one but with exactly the same mindset! We feel good and the population help us.
Here also, the quality of life is not very high. People live from fishing but also port activities, business, a lit bit tourism and agriculture.
The average salary for a worker in a fish caning is around 3/400€, for a teacher the salary is around 600€.
A plot to built his house is 5 000€, houses have been built with the means of the edge, sand from the beach, bricks are handmade. House have been made step by step for economical reasons but also to not pay taxes! Only houses of emigrants (Italy, Portugal but mainly in Holland) are finished.
Everyone doesn’t have his particular car but there are a lot of “aluguer”, cheap collective taxis but no cart pulled by horses! On the other hand, donkeys are very present to bear loads in the mountainous trails.
Cost of living, even if it’s lower than in Europe, remains very high regarding the average salary. The island situation and the low number of farmland, mainly in terrace, could explain this situation. Lot of shops belong to Asian community.
If the educational system seems efficient, economical situation is not very conducive to the development of the archipelago.
Contrary to Sal Island, Sao Nicolau Island is greener and agriculture is very important in the centre of the island.
At Tarrafal, we had a surprising meeting… it seems unreal and however …
Imagine yourself with your family, having lunch in the middle of the bay. You are not in your country, you don’t speak the language, don’t know the culture... The only thing you know is that you can’t go out at night and pay attention to things of values (even if the previous step proved to us that we should not believe everything we were told !)
Here, on this island, there is only 2 others boats... and you see swimming to you 5 people... “Of course, they are black, they are shady et will probably attack you or make a location to steal you tonight... brrr... it scares!!!”. There are 3 children (2 girls and 1 boy) and 2 adults.
We said « Bon dia », they answered « Bon dia !! ». Finishing our lunch, we proposed them Senegalese watermelon. They ate at the back of the boat. Then, the 2 girls suggested to our children, with mimes of course, playing in the water.... that they accepted willingly.
Later, Dayone, the eldest, proposed to move to her house! Ok !! The appointment was made for one hour.
Ok, Let’s go ! They were obviously waiting for us, certainly wondering if we were coming...
This family is composed of Roy, the father, 38 years old, Landirza, the mother 28 years old et their 2 daughters Dayonne, 12 years old and Cheyenne 10 years old.
Roy is builder and work from Monday to Saturday from 8h00 to 16h00, and has one month of holiday to take between June and August. Thanks to football, he went to other islands, Landirza never left her island. Now Roy stops to play football but he is running (1000 meters on track, 5 & 10 kms trials).
Landirza is maid and cook for two Cape Verdean’s houses.
They are not married because the amount of separation is very high. The children can decide if they prefer to stay with their mother or father.
Dayone is in middle school from 8am to 14pm : she learns french and English. She would like to be a professor. Cheyenne is in primary school from 13pm to 17.30pm, she would like to be an artist. They dress uniform to go to school.
Students have 15 days in December and 3 months from July up to September for holidays.
To go beyond middle school, they have to go to other island like Sao Vicente or Santiago : the cost associated is high if you don’t have family there.
This family lives in the grand-mother’s house with Landirza’s disabled sister. The grand-mother cleans the city streets from 6.30 am to 9am. The house has got a small living room, a kitchen in the courtyard, 3 bedrooms and a bathroom. There is running water but neither the toilets or the bathroom are linked with. They use jerrycans for the daily needs. They have a dog and a pig in the mountain.
Sunday is the only vacant day for all the family : they use to climb in the mountain. They like also to go in nightclub to dance on Saturday.
It is a friendly, warm, curious family looking for a contact with us. Of course, they don’t speak French, we don’t speak Portuguese. It was not easy to communicate but by insisting, changing the words, step by step we succeed in understanding each other better and better. For people around us, it was funny to see that !
Landirza cooked us an excellent« cachoupa », tradionnal meat in Cape verde that we savor together. Roy makes ice-creams for dessert!
And say that everything starts with a « bon dia » and a piece of wate melon!! Beautiful meeting !! Facebook will help us to stay connected.
We leave with regret this island to go to Mindelo : change of ambience and decor. Mindelo is a big city, it is the economic capital of the archipelago. Here goes back into indifference and tourism a bit forced. It is a stop obligatory in Cape Verde for the sailors crossing the Atlantic Ocean where you can repair the boat, buy food before going to the other side.
It was our second time in Cape Verde after the 2016 one. We saw two faces totally opposed : the one of small city : friendly, quiet and the other where you don’t live the boat alone in city like Mindelo or Praia. The second time will change our feeling of Cape Verde and its inhabitants. The lands, in particular in Sao Antao, are still wonderfull!