We have had a great time here in Mindelo. To think we nearly didn’t come here after reading the cruising guides!

We have met and made more friends and old friends have turned up and caught up. Dan and Jenni are delighted to have met up with their Swedish friends, Sven and Kirsten, on a 30 ft steel yacht ‘Ash’. We are so pleased that there are a lot of young people, Scandinavians mostly, who have decided to sail now rather than wait for retirement. I was a bit concerned that the Crew would be surrounded by people our age all the time, but the age range so far is from 5 to 75. There has been a lot of socialising and late nights, repairs and restocking as well as some sight seeing.
The neighbouring island is called Santo Antao and is well worth a visit. Several Yachties had told us about getting a minibus tour, so I booked a bus and by the evening we had eight to catch the 8 o’clock ferry the next morning.

On the ferry bound for Santo Antao

On the ferry bound for Santo Antao

The ferry took about an hour to cross some fairly choppy water …. the sick bags were passed around, but they missed us out…… we clearly looked like competent sea farers!
Once ashore, we were met at the very modern ferry terminal by our guide and driver for the day ‘Drongo’.

Drongo.....our guide for the day

Drongo…..our guide for the day

After managing to assure him that we had booked a minibus and not the open backed pick up truck with bench seats, which he tried to usher us into, we set off for a day of the most incredible sights.
The island rises steeply and our trip took us away from the bustle of Porta Nova and up the winding road leading to the old volcano. The road was made of individually laid cobbles which took 47 years to build, every single one laid by hand with no machinery! The Portuguese apparently paid the locals by giving them 75% in food, clothing and fuel and 25% in money……that’s one way to keep your workforce dependent on you!
After climbing for a very bumpy hour or so, with the occasional photo stop, up a very arid mountain side we started to see a bit ore greenery. Drongo pulled up for another photo opportunity, but none of us were prepared for this view. We were overlooking an incredibly deep fertile valley. For those of you old enough to remember a film called Shangrlila, they could have shot it here!

Shanglrila!

Shanglrila!

The contrast between the almost dessert approach and the lush green valley was breathtaking.

Back a bit! Back a bit!  Behind us was a sheer drop.

Back a bit! Back a bit! Behind us was a sheer drop.

Having set off at 7.30 to catch the ferry, we were all in need of a breakfast break. On we went through one incredible view after another, until we came to an unlikely looking stone fronted building that opened out into a terraced cafe/restaurant overlooking a valley.image

It was run by an Italian who had clearly built most of it himself and grew all his own produce. Being self sufficient so far from any town is vital and terracing provides fertile soil and a means of retaining water and preventing erosion during heavy rainfall. This island has a seasonal rainfall and in the past, used to ship water over to Mindelo, but even so, up in the mountains, people don’t have running water and we saw these kids happily collecting water from an irrigation tap.

Such young children fetching water. You can see the cobbled road we were traveling on.

Such young children fetching water. You can see the cobbled road we were traveling on.

After breakfast of home grown coffee, home made bread and home made goats cheese, we were off to see the cauldera of an old volcano. Standing on the rim, we looked down into the fertile plain that covered the floor of the volcano. It was vast and covered with small farms, orchards farmsteads. Drongo told us that most of the produce is shipped over to São Vincente, to feed the ever growing populous of Mindelo.

Breath taking views at every turn.

Breath taking views at every turn.

.....and another!

…..and another!

Back into the bus and we were off to the Ribera Grande for a stroll around before heading on to a fishing village for lunch.

Our restaurant.

Our restaurant.

Our restaurant certainly had a sea view, overlooking the harbour with the boats pulled up on the beach.

The local fishing fleet.

The local fishing fleet.

We watched men hand line fishing from the rocks,

Hand line fishing from the rocks.

Hand line fishing from the rocks.

whilst others gutted their catch in the rock pools,

Gutting fish.

Gutting fish.

weighed them on a balance

Weights and measures?

Weights and measures?

and passed them on to the women to sell.

Fish for tea?

Fish for tea?

Dongo had phoned ahead to place our order, but it seemed they only did the fish of the day, grouper, and chicken drumsticks. Lucky that was just what we wanted!

Lunch with Dongo at the head of the table

Lunch with Dongo at the head of the table

After a brief wander round the village, we were back on the ‘bone shaker’ bound for the ferry, with three students onboard. They were all on a Swedish Sailing School square rigger moored in Mindelo and had been hiking down from the volcano and needed to get to the ferry too, so one of the locals flagged us down and in they clambered. The Swedish have a very enlightened education system……these kids were doing the normal syllabus, but by sailing were experiencing different cultures and environments first hand.
After a brief detour to see a traditional stone and thatch village

Whether it is still lived in, we didn't find out.

Whether it is still lived in, we didn’t find out.

we took the cliff roadblock back.Suddenly the cobbles ran out and we were on smooth tar mac …… we all promptly started nodding off!

A great day visiting one of the least tourist affected places we have ever been. Long may it stay that way. 

2 Comments

  1. Wow, you are certainly living the dream. We are very jealous and so pleased for you. Take care. x

  2. Hi Marcus and Margie,

    first of all happy new year. We hope all goes well and you’ll have the time of your life.
    We planned to leave Mindelo on the day you came in. But we returned after a problem on our rudder. Bregt talked for a little while to Marcus on the VHF when you were entering Mindelo (maybe you remember, you asked if there was enough place in the marina). Anyway, we fixed our problem the same day and left the morning after on Sunday 28th of december. Too bad we did not see you again in Mindelo but who knows somewhere else…

    I saw on the internet you knew the couple on the yacht with the terrible accident in St Lucia. We feel so sorry for his wife. that is really a horrible thing to happen. He looked like a really nice English man as many others we’ve already encountered on our trip.

    We are currently in Barbados. Arrived here after a 17 day journey from Mindelo. All is well, the weather is good and the people are very friendly and helpful. Hope you’re having a good time there and hope to see you again some time.

    All the best!

    Bregt & Lynn

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