Day 273 – Air Raid

Day 273 – 16th April 2011

Porto de Palmeira, Ilha do Sal, Cabo Verde

“We’ve been attacked by some white bombers!” announced John as he exited the companionway in the morning. 

“Where’s the rubbish?” 

“Oh, I didn’t get to……..”

“I told you before, rubbish attracts vermin and I don’t do feckin roaches, rats or rubbish.” I yelled.

He’d hidden the rubbish in the cockpit, hoping I wouldn’t see it, but the birds sure as hell saw it.  He got a sponge and a bucket and started to clean.

“Go below and eat your breakfast, I’ll clean it, but I’ll never do it again if it caused by god damn garbage!”  The spray hood, canopy and cockpit were covered in white and grey splats, not to mention the mizzen sail and the main sheet.  I mumbled and grumbled to myself as I cleaned everything, believing this time that John finally realised that rotting rubbish can NOT be kept on board longer than necessary. 

John wanted to work on the wind vane today and had a few additional ‘Projects’ he could work on.  My day was my own and I planned to hang out with the locals and try something new.

I took the shared minibus aluguer to Espargos (The Capital) where they had fast internet for Skype and  a bit more going on than in Palmeira.

I went to a snack bar for coffee and ordered some square shaped puffed up pastry things called Pastel.  They turned out to have a little piece of fish inside and a huge amount of air.  Sitting facing the door so I could see the goings on of the passers by, a sunglasses seller having a break from the hot sun enjoying his cup of coffee talked to me from another table.  I invited him to join me for a chat.  Djibi Sow came from Senegal to work here, as have many Senegalese and he invited me to join him for lunch at a special Senegalese Restaurant.  Juggling French and English, I explained that my budget was limited and he assured me it would be a very good price.  John had paid €20 for our lunch yesterday – food was pricey.  He told me to come back at One O’Clock and he would take me.  I had some Internetting to do and said I would come back around 1pm.  The Internet Café was busy so I wandered about town, purchasing a courtesy flag for the boat as instructed.  Back at the Internet Café, the time went quickly and I glanced at my watch noticing it was almost one thirty.  Next thing you know, Djibi Sow was at my shoulder telling me it was time.  I paid my bill and walked with him as he wore at least 5 pairs of sunglasses on his head, 4 Louis Vuitton handbags over his shoulder with dozens of necklaces in one of them. 

He waved to a friend who was standing outside a place which might have been a restaurant. 

“Is this the place?”

“No, this way please.”

He opened the door of a house and walked through towards the steps at the back.  Slowly we trudged our way to a roof top where half a dozen kittens lazed about.  There was a plastic table, a twin tub washing machine, some badly worn stools and two or three make shift seats.  Two ladies, one washing a huge mountain of clothes, the other washing cooking utensils, both in traditional Senegalese costumes were already there.  I was given one of the makeshift stools and a place in the shade of a tree to sit.  Within minutes, there were seven Senegalese men, one additional Senegalese woman and myself sitting on the rooftop. As soon as I arrived, I knew there would be no menu and I was really excited at the surprise of what would be dished up.  A big stainless steel basin of rice, vegetables and vegetables was handed to Mamba, another sunglasses seller, and my barrel stool was turned on its side so I would be closer to the ground where the bowl was placed.  I asked if I could wash my hands, as I knew they were muslim.  The lady who cooked was delighted at my asking and held the jug of water pouring a little for me as had been done in Morocco. There was a shortage of spoons so I opted to eat with my hands, taking my lead from Djibi Sow.  A little mound of tamarind and another of chilli were inside the bowl.  The food was delicious – better than delicious.  Those with spoons broke off pieces of the whole fish and placed it at my section of the bowl.  The cost was 200 Escudos, less than €2 and it was time to leave for tea at Djibi Sow’s house.  I expressed my deepest gratitude to the cook and she kissed me on both cheeks smiling all the time.  It was a fantastic lunch.  I felt very privileged to have been invited.

My entourage of six Senegalese men walked to the house with me for tea.  It would be untruthful for me to say I didn’t feel a little concerned, but my gut told me it was fine.  Into the building I went and down the corridor to the ‘house’.  A room with a double bed, a double mattress and a single mattress on the floor and a gas cylinder with a burner on top filled the space.  It was clean and tidy with a curtain hung inside the door.  I wedged my flip flop under the door, jarring it open, ensuring peace of mind.  Nobody attempted to close it.  The ritual of tea took about half an hour.  While I waited for the brew, I answered their questions about my travels and asked them about their families.  It was the same tea as used in Morocco, green gunpowder tea, prepared very differently.  Boiled with sugar for 15 or 20 minutes and very, very strong, then poured over and over again from glass to glass until the froth was equal in height to the tea.  It looked like Guinness! It tasted sweet and strong with a syrupy consistency.  I left soon after, thanking everyone for sharing the tea and was given a gift of a shell necklace to protect me on my travels.

John was collecting me at 18.15 at the shore and I had a date on Skype at 4pm.

Back in Palmeira, John was talking about the weather to Oswin, a German single hander who’d arrived earlier in the day from Gran Canaria.  I showed him where all the important buildings were located.  The Police, the shower block, the water tap, the internet oven and where and how the aluguer operate. Later I gave my weather report to John and it made no difference to his plans.

I went to bed at 9pm, tired and excited from my adventure.

Menu today

Breakfast – Tea and muesli and half a papaya

Lunch – Thiébe au Dieune (Rice with Fish and vegetables)

Dinner – Fried Chicken with potatoes and a carton of mixed vegetables (3 YEARS out of date)

Snacks – 2 x milky coffees, 2 Pastel, banana, 2 x cold beers, Sprite, Ataya (Senegalese Tea)

Meraid Griffin

Freelance writer, adventurer and public speaker. Descibed in the Sunday Times as a 'modest explorer'. Nothing modest about me.

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