Saturday, 18 October 2014

Cape Verde – Volcanic Islands in the East Atlantic

We reached the Cape Verde Islands around lunchtime on the 17th of October. Palm trees greeted us again as we expected it after we left Las Palmas two days ago. The sun was burning and the thermometer showed temperatures around 30°C in the shade and in the water as well, but we are on an explorer ship and we were just ready to explore the city of Mindelo - one of the largest cities on the Cape Verde - laying on São Vicente.

The Cape Verde Islands are a volcanic Archipelago in the NE Atlantic, app. 570 km west of Senegal. Ten larger, nine of them inhabited, and several small islands are divided in the islands over and under the wind (NE Trade). The archipelago was formed over a hot spot, a huge magma chamber and the oldest islands are Sal, Boa Vista and Maio in the east. São Vicente belongs to the younger islands with a nice mountain landscape.

As Cape Verde has no original inhabitant we have no exact knowledge about the pre-colonial time. It looks like that the islands have been known as “Gorgaden” by the very early navigators and that the Arabs sailed for salt to Sal, one of the easterly islands.

The first documented circumnavigation of the islands has been done by the Portuguese navigator Antonio Fernandes. 1460 the Genovese Antonio da Noli discovered the islands and named them Ilhas do Cabo Verde. Cape Verde became a Portuguese colony as da Noli discovered the islands in the name of the Portuguese “Henry the Navigator” (Infante Dom Henrique de Avis, Duke of Viseu). Da Noli founded the first European tropical city, Cidade Velha (Cidade de Ribeira Grande) on Santiago. During 1500 and 1620 Cape Verde became a very important “transfer site” for slaves. That’s the reason why we could see so many dark skinned people living on the islands. The islands got later on an importance for the English salt trade and for its coal harbors but pestilences, aridity and hunger crises set an end to the economic importance of the islands. After a longer independence fight against Portugal the islands got their Autonomy at the 5th of July 1975.

Mindelo, the capital of São Vicente has been always very important for its natural deep water harbor. In historical time it was famous for its coal bunker, today the harbor is more well-known for the tourism as also bigger cruise liners can be safely docked at a modern pier.

We docked at this pier also and started our city excursion as soon as the ship had been cleared in. Even it was very hot we enjoyed our walk through the town. Full of new and very deep impressions we came back on board. Look at the pictures and you can take at least a little bit part of our experiences.

As we stayed overnight in the harbor we had the evening and the next morning to learn the city by ourselves. There was even time for a beach visit before we left Cape Verde for our next destination of Salvador da Bahia in Brazil.