Alone Like a Rolling Stone

The farewell of abundance

When we leave Europe, we also say goodbye to the large assortments of the supermarket chains and dive into the diversity of African markets. Perhaps culture shock is not the right word for it, but it does take a few switches in the head to adjust to the new situation. There is no oversupply of goods here. At the market, at best for us, the fruits and vegetables are exotic. What is sold here is what grows seasonally and regionally and is ready for harvest. Oranges are not to be found, but mangoes are in abundance. Tomatoes and carrots no longer look like they do in a European supermarket, well formed, neatly presented and dusted with steam every few seconds to make the produce appear very fresh. Knotty, crooked and with plenty of soil they come along. They are presented on a rickety table made of pallets.

Mindelo African Market

The ground is dusty, cats, dogs and other creatures, try not to be at the bottom of the food chain, and we in between. However, the fruits and vegetables taste much better, they are more durable and cost only a fraction of what they cost in Europe. So slowly the realization is seeping through that we need to change our eating habits. Pasta is no longer the staple food here. We have to switch to cassava and rice. In Mindelo, fish is offered on the street and at the fish market. Mostly it lies in the murky water, in a plastic tub. The number of flies, on such a fish market, is enormous. We have not yet really dared to fish. Therefore we visit a small bar, on the African market. For 250 Escudos, that is not quite 2,50€, we eat there for dinner. There is tuna, rice and manioc. It's better not to look behind the board shack, but the food is plentiful and tastes great. The people are happy that you like it, they depend on the sales, because not too many people come. The assortment in the supermarket has also changed. At the butcher's we find the chocolate next to the meat in the frozen display. To avoid any misunderstanding from the outset, each bar has a large price tag. No bar is available for less than 6€. So we have to change here, too.

Waiting in a shared cab

The minibus in which we sit, holds regularly nine persons, but it goes also twelve purely, as we find out later. Collective cabs connect the metropolis of Mindelo with the villages on the island. We want to go to Sao Pedro, in the southwest of Sao Vicente. At the most southwestern tip is the lighthouse "Farol de Dona Amelia". We want to get to know Dona Amelia. When such a cab leaves is written in the stars or when it is full. In the meantime we look out of the window and watch the market. An elderly market woman selling herbs is sitting under the parasol smoking a big fat cigar. What is striking is that only women run the stalls. Only where the stalls become more and more touristy, men are also busy. Large containers, with merchandise, are carried by the women on their heads. Between the women there seems to be a certain hierarchy, women who have no business in the area are given disapproving looks until they disappear again. The last passenger takes a seat in the middle seat next to the driver. The 60 eggs, which were standing there before, on his lap. We sit close together in the minibus and sweat runs down our faces. Twelve people, including luggage, make breathing difficult. One must not be squeamish, also fear of contact would be here very obstructive. All windows that can be opened on the vehicle are open. With the wind the smell of sweat, which has spread in the vehicle due to the long wait, also disappears. Corona conditionally I still lack my sense of smell, but at Gabys twisted eyes I can understand the smell level so to some extent. 

The beach of Sao Pedro

Sao Pedro is a sleepy nest, not far from the island's international airport. People sit in the shade and try not to move much. Over the place, which is shaded only in a few places by trees, a few dogs roam and now and then a cat can be seen. The beach is impressive with its surf and stretches for about 3km to the west. A few fishermen repair their nets. We turn off the lighthouse and make our way to Santo Andre, on the other side of the runway. Santo Andre is a small collection of hotels and a large construction site. We reach the entrance to the path, towards the lighthouse, via the construction site access road. 

Lighthouse Farol de Dona Amelia

The path winds along the rock and you should be free from giddiness in any case. The lighthouse keeper is happy about our visit and shows us his dwelling. On the tower we marvel at the view and take a look over to Santo Antao. On the way back the shared cab picks us up again and so we make it, without waiting time, back to Mindelo.

Hiking trail from the lighthouse to Sao Pedro

As always, you can read about what we'll be up to next week at Until then, we wish you, as always, fair winds and keep a stiff upper lip.