Cape Verde Day 1
Landed in the airport…after a brief search for our bags and a long line waiting for the stamp of approval on our visas, we headed out the door. We were immediately bombarded by young man demanding in rapid Portuguese that we allow them to carry our bags. Warned beforehand, all four girls tried to keep ahold of their suitcases, but failed as the men carried them briskly to the nearest taxi.
Driving past the fortress on the hill, we gazed up at the stone walls that once protected against invading pirates. Visions of the dry countryside flew past the window. Turning quickly from a grayish white, to yellow, to the sandy red of exposed clay, the buildings seemed to be made primarily of mud brick or stone faced with colorful plaster upsetting the primarily monochromatic landscape abruptly with an intense accent of color…the façade of a turquoise blue bar or a lime green apartment. The roads served as an apt frame neutralized by the dusted cobbles.
We were let out in front of a building that was to be our hotel…but it wasn’t. After my Porfessor, Alain, made a few calls, we discovered that the hotel had moved two streets over. We grabbed our suitcases and began to walk. You could hear some of the people calling “Americana” or “Blanche” (referring to Mellissa and Allison) who stood apart as the only white people in a sea of Cape Verdeans. Soon we arrived at Hotel Santa Maria.
After locking our belongings in a room, Alain led us out into Cape Verde. Walking rapidly, we followed behind quickly taking notes of what we saw. In a barrage of images, I recall several stray dogs walking along the rooftops or on the streets begging for scraps; some had sores and their bones stuck out so far I feared they pierced the skin. Cats yowling at a group of pigs trapped under a woven basket. An assortment of pots with curving lips that overflowed with lentils. Crates topped with fish and knotted by strands of garlic.
Down the zigzagging path, women sat with their sale goods…used flip flops, coca cola, and rows and rows of children’s shoes. They called out prices in Portuguese. Some sought shade in an abandoned building that may have been an apartment at some point but now all that remains is a roof and the concrete frame.
We passed through one market only to be swallowed by another. Women were breastfeeding their babies as they bat away flies from the ripening fruits with a frayed broom. Men sat busily working at sewing machines manufacturing pants, dresses, bags, and cloth shoes out of textiles from India and the U.K.