Cape Verde day six
13.02.2018 - 13.02.2018
On their way to the carnival
Our last day on Santiago, and we had planned a leisurely start to the day, so of course ironically we were both awake early. No doubt tomorrow, when we have to be up at the crack of dawn for our flight back to Sal, we will want to sleep in!
Example of panu on a loom at the museum
After breakfast we hailed a taxi outside the hotel to go to Plateau. As always, one stopped pretty promptly, we walked over to it, and somehow I managed to slip off the kerb and go flying - ouch! Luckily no major damage was done, either to me or to my camera, which had been my main thought while tumbling to the ground. Battered and bruised, and more than a little embarrassed (several women at the nearby bus stop had coming hurrying to my aid) I joined Chris in the cab and we continued on our journey.
In Plateau we headed for a coffee shop on the Rua 5 de Julho where I could lick my wounds over an espresso. Later we checked out the Ethnographic Museum on the same street which justified its cheap (200 escudoes) entrance fee by having relatively little in it! There was however a temporary exhibition on a local weaving style known as Panu di Terra which was quite interesting. This was derived from the techniques in working with cotton (spinning, dyeing, weaving) brought here from Africa by the slaves. Originally Panu was simply the clothing worn by the slaves, but later it became an important commodity and played an important role in trade alongside other local prodacts such as tobacco and sugar cane rum.
Apart from this the permanent displays consisted of cases featuring household objects related to cooking, farming etc., and some musical instruments.
After this we strolled around, taking a few more photos of the old buildings and some local people (which I originally posted in yesterday's entry, having messed up my dates!). We checked out a shop selling local and African handicrafts (just off the Praça Alexandre Albuquerque, on Rua Serpa Pinto), where I bought a colourful fabric wallet to use for my travel documents.
In the Praça Luis de Camoes
Out and about in Plateau
Then it was time for lunch, and again we headed for our favourite Café Sofia with its airy terrace and excellent fruit juices. Today I had an omelette while Chris went for the tuna sandwich as I had recommended it from yesterday, and we both had the pineapple juice with mint.
Today was Mardi Gras, and although carnival isn’t so much of a big deal on Santiago as on some of the other islands, notably Sao Vicente, it is certainly celebrated. So after a break at the hotel we made the short walk to Avenida Cidade Lisboa, the route of the parade. We had heard various timings for this from the different people we had talked to, but between 3.00 and 4.00 was the usual suggestion, and certainly by three we could hear music from our hotel room, so we set out around then.
Arriving at the side of the route we found people just starting to gather. There was music blaring and lots of food stalls, but no parade as yet. We found a good position beside the road to wait, and after a while, peering through the growing crowds, could just make out dancers congregating at the far end although it was clearly going to be some time before they set off. We amused ourselves meanwhile taking photos of some of the many children who had come along in fancy dress to watch the parade, not to mention a few adults!
Children waiting for the parade
Adults dress up too!
Eventually the dancers came towards us, but this was clearly just the prequel, and consisted of several groups each representing one of the occupations of Praia - chefs, musicians and others we were unsure of. Were the dancers dressed in black plastic refuse collectors perhaps?!
The first group of dancers
After an interval another group of dancers appeared, accompanied by drummers. These seemed to represent the island’s history and African heritage. We found it odd to see black people ‘blackened up’ like this, and couldn’t fathom at all the reason for the blue paint spotted by others, but it was really colourful and lively, although a very tall male dancer with a long stick rather frightened the little girl next to me.
Second group of dancers
I was torn between trying to capture all the activity on video or sticking to still photos. In the end I mostly did the latter, but my short video clips will give a little sense of the music that accompanied the dancers.
There was another pause and then we saw some floats approaching. There were just two of them but they looked super. The first of them was decorated to look like three volcanoes, with those on it dressed in flame colours. Santiago doesn’t have an active volcano (Fogo is the only island in the archipelago to do so) but it does have some that are extinct - possibly three, as on this float?
The float was preceded by dancers all dressed in orange, and behind it came the next, in blue and silver, crowned with stars and with dancers again dressed in coordinating colours.
Accompanying the 'orange' float
On the orange float, and another dancer
Children with the 'blue and silver' float
Blue and silver dancers
On the blue and silver float
Then there seemed to be another large gap before anything else would come along, and we had no idea what else we could expect as the lengthy gaps between periods of activity kept us guessing! So we decided to give up our front row positions to some of the later arrivals as we surely had enough photos by now! Also, the afternoon was wearing on, and as this was our last day on Santiago there were bags to be packed and a prompt dinner to be eaten as our transfer to the airport tomorrow morning was to be very early. We strolled back through the crowds, stopping to take a final few photos as we caught up again with the floats which had parked up at the end of the avenue, and enjoying the relaxed holiday atmosphere.
Last dinner on Santiago
In the evening we had dinner again at the Beramar Grill, just a few minutes’ walk from our hotel. I had the tuna belly (something I had never tried before) which was excellent, washed down with a couple of beers, while Chris had the tuna steak - also very good. With a dessert of dolce de leite it made a very pleasant meal to end our stay here.
In the Beramar Grill