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Cape Verde and Carnival

Once upon a time in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean

sunny 93 °F
View A Backpack, A Bicycle, And a Bonderman Grant to Travel the World on dericvito's travel map.

I took my roundtrip from Southern Africa back to Europe landing in Porto, Portugal. Portugal is now officially my favorite country in Europe for two reasons: First, Both times I've been there the streets are filled with people in costume. During my last visit I was in the university town of Coimbra where students dress in Harry Potter like capes and parade around the streets during graduation. This time it was mostly children in halloween style getups for Carnival. Second, You can get a wholesome homestyle meal (soup, bread, entree, glass of wine, desert and coffee) for five Euro, almost anywhere. Porto was mostly a layover to get a visa for Cape Verde, but also because bike touring in Portugal was my original dream of a cycling trip.

When I arrived in Mindelo, Cape Verde to the shout of my friend Casey from a second story window the Carnival celebrations had already begun. I was later informed the party had been underway for a month. Cape Verde is a small island chain a couple hours flight off the coast of West Africa. It was occupied by the Portuguese, who apparently found it unihabited and subsquently populated it with Europeans and West Africans, the blend of which makes up the current population. The relative recentness and mash of traditions makes it a facinating place which has adopted aspects of both African and Portuguese culture, all of which show up during Carnival. Casey, a long-time Seattle friend, was my traveling partner in Cape Verde and part of Senegal. Together we mingled in the crowd on the streets and watched from our balcony as three days of parades passed by. First it was the children, who trotted along with their schools or community groups to the chat of, "hu hu hu, HA" something similar to the main dance number in the animated movie Madagascar if you've seen it. Then came the Monday evening parade, an elegant affair with an Africa theme. Finally Tuesday and main event competition arrived. Throughout there were street festivities and a constant flow of people watching people while circling the central plaza.

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From Mindelo, the cultural heart of Cape Verde, we traveled to the island of Santo Antao. Cape Verdean islands are mostly dry and barren with a moon-like landscape that brighten up green with a hint of rain. Santo Antao is no exception, but the northern half gets some regular water on their steep hillsides, which thus give way to beautiful valleys. We spent a few days treking, breaking for backgammon games and a beer and watching the sunset in the small towns of this peaceful island. We returned to Mindelo for Saturday night to hear some traditional and modern Cape Verdean music, which did not disappoint, and even a quick visit to the local club where Carnvial never ended.

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Out in the middle of the sea Cape Verdean life is comparitively good compared to most of West Africa, the pace is calm and people relax and enjoy themselves in their free. Our last stop was the capital city, Praia. In Praia the scent of modern African life was present, as was some very tasty friend fish, but nothing like our next stop, Dakar.

Posted by dericvito 01:20 Archived in Senegal

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