Thursday, January 3, 2008

A Glimpse of Cape Verde

Cape Verde - the (not so) green islands off the coast of wester Africa. They were uninhabited until they were discovered by the Portuguese. Portugal then used the archipelago as a stop-over on their way to Brazil.
The Portuguese brought people from Africa to the islands to work as slaves. Later the white and coloured people mixed and a creole culture was born. However, the majority of the population still has a very dark complexion.
Cape Verde gained independence from Portugal in 1975.
The islands have a very peculiar climate. There is an absolutely steady Northeastern trade wind and it hardly ever rains on the islands. Therefore, potatoes and grains don't fare well, and corn and squash are the staple of the poor.
The bustling market of Praia, the capital on the island of Santiago. The women mainly sell vegetables. However much I like this fact, it is nonetheless a sign of great poverty.
On the few islands suitable for growing anything (here Santiago) every inch is planted with corn.
Of course the people who can afford it also keep animals. One day we were driving through a mountain village when I saw a litter of piglets. I had never seen piglets in (relative) freedom. It was amazing. They were running at great speed and gamboling and playing around like puppies. And so agile, too.
I got out of the car and immediately they stopped playing and eyed me curiously. Finally, the boldest of the group cautiously started approaching me, the others followed him (or her? who knows). They inched closer and closer and then suddenly they scurried off, scared by their own courage. This was the cutest thing... Their eyes so intelligent and curious, their lively play, their agility... Everybody ought to see what wonderful creatures pigs really are!
Their mother btw. was pink. Now this leaves room for speculation as to their father, hehe.

One of the few things the archipelago has to offer in terms of products is salt. Here the view of an (almost) abandoned saline. (Other products include real good wine and superb coffee).

Before, when I saw pink bath salts in shops I always thought how corny. But apparently, natural sea salt really has a pinkish hue due to iron oxides (I don't know how well it comes out in this photo.) We were also able to bathe in the saline. With its salt content of some 86 percent we were floating on the water - Heaven!

Sunset seen from our hotel window that was overlooking the bay.


Vegan_Noodle said...

Wow, sounds like a fascinating place to visit! Your pictures are beautiful, especially those cute little pigs!! Was eating vegan there easy?

Anke said...

Well, it was ok. I speak Spanish, the people there speak a form of Portuguese, so I could make myself understood. The hotel had plenty of fruits and veggies. It was more kind of feeding on side dishes which happed to be vegan than ever having a vegan meal there. But I knew I was traveling to one of the poorest developing countries, so I didn't expect much.

Once in a restaurant for lunch they had rice cooked in tomatoes on the menu. I ordered it and told the waitress ten times "no meat" and then halfway through the plate I find a tiny morsel of meat. Talk about horror...