Dec 12, 2010 Cape Verde, a short stay.
All of the beauty I saw from the ship …. reality has taken over. I see poverty, buildings without doors, without windows and some without many walls. Partial buildings, stores all closed up, bars covering some entranceways. Signage made of paper and hand writing.
Narrow streets, not well marked. Taxi drivers stop and offer a ride, one after another, after another. Persistent and intrusive. Hot already by 9:15 am, we walk along the water, I notice sandy beach. The smell is not a pleasant beachy smell at all. I don’t wonder where that smell comes from that is assaulting my senses. We keep walking. We are 4, and I feel the need to keep track of all of us all the time. The closer the streets take us to “town”, the less safe I feel. I feel sad that I feel this way. So sad as I read the signage and witness the historical context for this place. The sad eyes that look up from the small door ways with hands outstretched, remind me again and again of the history and pain of this place.
I see no celebration of life or victory. No evidence of community pride or safety. A very few stores open to welcome us, so crowded as some guests have stumbled on them before us. Haggling in currencies – US, Euros, something portugese? This small country has its own currency!! Interesting.
Still consulting the map and trying to find the internet cafe, we ask a police person who chooses not to answer and instead tells us that this local man speaks English and will assist us find the cyber cafe. A local man walks with us – I am suspicious and I don’t want to follow. Part of me wants to believe in something good, but my gut instinct is that this is a trap of some kind. A game. My stomach forms a knot. We are told the cyber place opens at 10. We decide to walk around a bit and find our way back at that time.
When we arrive back, many of our ship mate tourist friends are already waiting for the 10 am opening. Nothing. Two locals, a woman and another male say … “follow us to one that is open” … some follow and the knot in my stomach is now much larger and the once small voice of suspicion is now screaming in my head “this is a trap, don’t go. Walk away”. We stay together, we watch others go and some stay – we go half way and stand. Waiting to see some sign of something that tells us what to do. We check back at the cyber place. Now we believe nothing is open on Sunday and to stay here will only lead to more deception and I just don’t want to spend my day with my new knotted stomach.
We have a quick chat and decide to walk back leisurely to the ship to enjoy the rest of the day from our familiar place. I know I will be writing about this place. I know I will be haunted from being here – not because anything particularly bad happened to me – it did not. Not because I have heard stories of theft by locals – I have not. Only my own thoughts of how this place manages to stay open at all, to find hope and optimism with a history so unhappy and so tragic.
I am sitting now on my veranda watching as the other guests arrive back on the ship – slowly and with less zip in their step than when they left this ship this morning. Some who, like us, chose to not take a bus tour out to see the countryside and visit other villages, back to the comfort and safety of our ship, with memories and sights we will forever take with us from this day forward.
There must be some learning here for me – some message. Some past experience or thoughts, some story I have heard from long ago … some reason that is held in the very cells of my being. Some future event that hinges on me being here this date and seeing what I have seen. It is done. I have been here, done this and there is only the waiting now, to find the reason why. Perhaps I needed to witness.