Where I’ve Been: Cape Verde

Cape Verde is an archipelago of ten teeny-tiny volcanic islands off the coast of Senegal in the North Atlantic. Yes, most hurricanes that hit the Caribbean and the southeast USA start off over Cape Verde as typical summer rainstorms. The uninhabited islands were discovered and populated by the Portuguese in 1460, who brought over Africans as slaves. As was typical of Luso-Hispanic colonialism, blood boiled, races mixed, and Cape Verde was left with a variation of skin tones and hair textures reminiscent of its big brother Brazil. After a brief, shining turn as a major refueling stop for ocean-going vessels and a source of skilled mariners for 19th century American whaling ships, Cape Verde fell into long-term drought-induced economic despair, launching a diaspora now numbering over a million Cape Verdeans in North America and Europe, with less than 500,000 on the islands themselves. Cape Verde’s best-known export: soulful morna singer Cesária Évora.

I was invited to accompany my good friend José, Cape Verdean historian and intellectual playboy, to visit his homeland in August of 2004. For two weeks we swatted flies, battled dust and heat, watched Brazilian soap operas, met (literally) boatloads of folks from the States and Europe visiting family for the summer, and relaxing on beaches in the absolute middle of the ocean. Yes, everybody thought I was Cape Verdean (“Hey, why dudn’t that kid speak Kriolu?”). No, I’m not Cape Verdean. Would be very proud if I was, though. And yes, I know going there’s like going to Hawaii and saying you’ve been to the USA – technically it’s true, so technically, I’ve been to Africa.

Cape Verde on Wikipedia – basic overview
Cape Verde Unabridged – news, politics, and culture
caboverde.com – tourist and cultural information
Cape Verde Home Page – portal to other sites
Governo de Cabo Verde – official government site (in Portuguese)

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8 thoughts on “Where I’ve Been: Cape Verde

  1. LOL – I want u to get somewhere and sat down – lol!!! You’re all over the place and I wondered where you had been.

  2. Ernest,I remember how you said you wanted to travel at FAMU. Congratulations. The rest of us would be traveling too if we could afford it. One of my colleague roommates has fallen madly in love with you. She remembers you back in the day and she’s loving you now. Send me e-mail to merissa.green@theledger.com So I can play cupid. Do you know how to get in contact with Sharon Pugh?

    • @Ms Beauty: I went to Santiago, São Vicente, and Sal. That was back in 04, and I haven’t had the chance to get back yet. I would have loved to have gone to Fogo! When are you going?

  3. Hey I’m back from Cape Verde. I was on Sal for a week in Santa Maria… I enjoyed the sun, the food and the change of atmosphere but it was waaaaay too touristy… Half the island was full of Italians, so that was a little disappointing… I wish I had spent as few days in Palmira but I only found out about the place on an island tour the day before I left. I will be blogging about it and posting some pictures some time soon!

    • @MsBeauty: I was only in Sal for a few days, but I could tell back in 2004 where things were headed with the resorts that were being built at the time. Did you not get to Sao Vicente? That’s Cesaria Evora’s home island and it’s an amazing place, with artifully-crumbling colonial architecture, worldly residents, and stunning rocky beaches. It was my favorite place in Cape Verde!

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