Saturday 19th November 2022

We were on another early call for breakfast in readiness for a tour of the island of Sao Vicente, Cape Verde. We had arrived here in the early hours and dropped anchor in the sheltered bay in readiness for the pilot to arrive and help us dock.

We visited the old town and port of Mindelo, stopping briefly at the Praça Nova, a colonial square that is now a peaceful backwater. Here are the headquarters of a telecommunication company which is housed in the original telegraph relay station for the first trans-Atlantic telegraph cable at the end of the 19th century.

The area around the harbour and fish market has evidence of the arrival of the Navigators in the form of statues and a miniature Torre de Belem, that are reminders of the discovery of the islands by the Portuguese. The remains of a British coaling station are here, regularly replenished with coal from Newcastle, it was a major refuelling stop in the days of steamships.

The Praça Estrela (African market) is a thriving marketplace built over what were originally salt pans and nearby the fruit and vegetable market. Once out of town we climbed the cobbled road to the summit of Monte Verde, remains of a volcano with lava fields spreading to the ocean over sandstones and wind-blown Saharan sand. We made an interesting find here – a piece of lava (basalt) which spread over the beach trapping seashells. This, over a very long period has been rounded by erosion from the sea and so the remains are small.

Again, the mountains rise from the ocean to about 6,000ft and with harbours in calderas. The island is largely dry because of the archipelago’s position of the West African coast and therefore, is on the edge of the Sahara Desert so experiences extreme heat and aridity. The high mountain here, interrupts the northeasterly Trade Winds, and the rain produces forest and fertile land on the windward side of the islands. Cape Verde means Green Cape, which is a little misleading and demonstrates that the Navigators arrived from Europe onto these windward facing coasts.

We returned to the ship via an agricultural valley on the leeward side of the mountain which only exists because of wind powered pumps, wells and irrigation channels and produces market garden produce for the island.

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